RAPID NO: The Canadian women went from leading the US to going home eliminated in about fifteen minutes thanks in no small part to Megan Rapinoe. Photo courtesy US Presswire

It only took a week and a half, but the world’s most popular sport has finally shined to the forefront of the Olympics. I am, of course, talking about soccer — or football for just about everyone outside the U.S.

But while the woman’s soccer match between USA and Canada dominated highlight reels, it was not the end-all-be-all for newsworthy happenings in London. So, without further adieu, let’s look back at Day 10 of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Women’s North American National Teams Wage War on Turf

Up until yesterday, the vast majority of headlines the USA Women’s Soccer Team made were not directly related to soccer. Suffice it to say, some distractions were forming.

First there was Megan Rapinoe who came out of the closet to her teammates. Her team’s very apparent vocal support and encouragement combined with the fallout over a Chick-Fil-A executives comments on gay marriage made the story even larger. Then Hope Solo kept the spotlight on the team when she, without warning or provocation, took to Twitter to blast the commentating style of NBC analyst and former US Women’s Soccer teammate Brandi Chastain.

The stories became so large that, when the team went undefeated in pool play to cross over into the knockout round, it was almost treated as an afterthought. But that all changed Monday.

The two North American nations went back and forth for ninety minutes. Christine Sinclair scored early and often for Canada with her first goal coming in the 22nd minute. That 1-0 lead stood for nearly a third of the game before the aforementioned Rapinoe scored in 54th minute.

That’s when things got wild.

Sinclair and co. countered to retake the lead 2-1 with a goal scored in minute 67. Three minutes later, Rapinoe got HER second goal and evened the game. Three minutes after THAT, Sinclair racked up a hat trick with her third goal and Canada led 3-2 with 17 minutes left to play.

But that wouldn’t stand. In the 80th minute, veteran Abby Wambach came through with a goal of her own to even the game at 3 apiece. Then, as the game entered injury time, young phenom Alex Morgan came through to give the US its first lead of the night at 93-minute mark. Moments later, the ref blew the final whistle and the American women stood as victors.

Now, the US advances to the gold medal match against Japan where they will seek redemption. If you recall, it is the same Japanese team that handed Team USA that stinging lost in the finals of the women’s world cup last year. Now, if you ask the team, it’s time for payback…Olympics style.

 

USAIN WHO: Kirani James shined in the mid-distance Men’s 400-Meter race, winning gold for his native Grenada. Photo courtesy Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Holding it High: Little Grenada Wins First Medal Ever

Of all the feel-good stories that have emerged from the games, this one might be the coolest. On Monday, Kirani James won gold in the Men’s 400 Meter. What’s so great about that? It’s the first medal — gold, silver, or bronze — the tiny nation has ever won in ANY Olympic games.

And it couldn’t have happened to a classier athlete.

On Sunday night, the man nicknamed the ‘Blade Runner’, double amputee track athlete Oscar Pistorius, finished dead last in his semifinal heat for the 400 Meter. The winner of that heat was James, who, after he crossed the finished line, turned back and waited for Pistorius to finish. When he did, James removed his last name tag from his jersey and asked to exchange with Pistorius, a sign of respect and courtesy amongst runners.

James’ good karma helped him capture his nation’s first medal one day later. If you think Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, or Tom Daley were national heroes, just think in what praise James is going to be held when he returns home.

Algerian Runner Banned, Then Unbanned For Taking it Easy

It was one of the most bizarre turn of events in an exceptionally bizarre Olympics games. And, had Olympic organizers not acted quickly, it could’ve become another black eye for London’s third term as Olympic host.

In the qualifying heats of the Men’s 800-Meter, Algerian runner Taoufik Makhloufi mysteriously pulled up short in the first lap of Heat 5. Undoubtedly more sensitive to “thrown matches” after last week’s ‘badmintongate’, the race referee not only slapped a DNF (Did Not Finish) on him in the race, he disqualified the 24-year-old from the finals of the Men’s 1,500 Meter for which he had already qualified.

The Algerian Olympic delegation quickly objected, and argued that their athlete had a lingering knee issue which officials had been made aware of and he didn’t want to force the issue in a non-medal event.

After citing evidence submitted by a medical officer — yes, that’s right, the Algerian delegation gave their runner a doctor’s note — the disqualification was overturned and it was announced that Makhloufi would be allowed to compete in the Men’s 1,500 Meter.

 

FROM ROLLING PAPERS TO WALKING PAPERS: Nick Delpopolo wasn’t going to win a medal, but now he leaves the Olympics as a punchline instead of an athlete. Photo courtesy Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

High Times: U.S. Judo Fighter Expelled For Pot

We’ve grown accustomed to drugs and sports being interwoven and forever corrupting the purity of the games, but usually it’s something that gives the athlete an advantage.

In the case of United States Judo competitor Nick Delpopolo, he was kicked out of the games for something else entirely. Delpopolo tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. A pothead Judo artist? Oh, but wait, it gets better.

In accepting his expulsion (basically admitting guilt), Delpopolo said that he “inadvertently” ate a pot brownie before traveling to the games. How does that happen? Did he just think that the chocolate was making him feel really, REALLY good? I don’t know, that excuse seems HALF-BAKED to me.

The other obvious thing to point out here is that Delpopolo (god, I could say that name all day) knew immediately what caused him to test positive, making it seem less and less likely that ingestion here was truly “inadvertant”.

To be clear, though, the Olympics does not consider marijuana a performance-enhancing drug. And, unless Delpopolo was fighting a giant pop tart, they are correct in doing so. No, weed is just simply a “forbidden drug” on the Olympic charter and, even though we’re having a bit of fun with this story, a positive test carries a two-year ban from international competition. Not so fun now, is it? Next time, Nick, ask your buddy just what exactly makes the brownie so special.

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NOTE: This story was also published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure you follow him @bclienesch for Olympic updates and other shenanigans!