The next to last day of competition brought thrills all over the place, but especially at the track. Thus, we start there. As always, spoilers abound for NBC's primetime coverage.
Simply The Best The anticipation for the men's 4x100 relay was palpable for one reason: Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, and the rest of the Jamaican team. The United States were considered the only team that had a chance, and they did run well, tying the world record of 37.04. The problem was Jamaica was even better, running an absurd 36.84 to set a new world record. The US led halfway through, but Blake drew even with Tyson Gay almost immediately, and as good as Ryan Bailey is, he had no chance against Bolt. Trinidad and Tobago took bronze after Canada was heartbreakingly disqualified for a lane violation.
Once again, Usain Bolt has become the dominant worldwide story of an Olympics. He has indicated in press conferences that this could be his last Olympics. While Jamaica will be fine without him thanks to Blake and their never ending sprinting farm system, it would be hard to imagine track and field without him. He has practically the entire sport of track and field. We can only hope he decided to go onto Rio in four years. It still doesn't feel like we've seen the totality of what he can do.
We Can Dominate Too The women's 4x400 relay looked like a rout on paper, and that's exactly what happened. The US team of DeeDee Trotter, Allyson Felix, Francena McCororyk, and Sanya Richards-Ross left no doubt, winning the gold by 3.5 seconds over Russia and Jamaica. It was Felix's third gold medal of these Olympics.
The United States won one another medal today at Olympic Stadium. Brigetta Barrett won a silver in the women's high jump. Anna Chicherova of Russia took the gold. The goal for US track and field was 30 medals. With only the men's marathon left, the team currently has 29 medals, nine of them gold. Not bad.
Britain's Olympic Capstone It's been an incredible Olympics for the host county Great Britain, and today one of its biggest stars came through again. Mo Farah took the lead with 2 laps to go in a very slowed paced 5000, and held off a late charge from Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethopia and Thomas Longosiwa of Kenya to win the gold medal. That gives Farah the 5000-10000 double and sent the Olympic Stadium crowd into a frenzy. America's Bernard Lagat was in good position at the end, but was tripped up as he was starting his finishing kick on the final stretch and finished 4th. Galen Rupp and Lopez Lomong couldn't quite handle the fast pace of the final lap and finished 7th and 10th respectively.
Thrill of Victory, Agony of Defeat Both the US women's basketball and women's volleyball teams played for gold today, but the results were complete opposite. The women's basketball team walked all over France 86-50 to win their fifth straight gold medal. The volleyball team got off to a great start against Brazil, winning the first set 25-11. From there though, it all fell apart. Brazil took the next three sets to take the gold. Many times winning a silver medal is an honor, and in a long run, it certainly should feel that way for the Americans. Right now though, I'm guessing it doesn't feel very good.
A Titanic Upset China dominates diving, and these Games have been no exception. Going into today's men's 10 meter platform event, China had won 6 of 7 events so far. Most of those winners were heavy favorites, and Qiu Bo in the platform event might have been the biggest favorite of all. Meanwhile, American David Boudia and British heartthrob Tom Daley struggled to get out of the preliminaries, with Boudia taking the 18th and last transfer spot.
However, both Boudia and Daley rebounded in the semifinals to qualify easy, and in the final, the two matched Qiu Bo dive for dive. Going into the final dive, Daley had the lead, but by a miniscule .15 points over both Boudia and Bo, who were tied for second. Daley went first on the final dive and scored well, 90.25 points. Boudia, however, scored even better, a whopping 102.60 points on a fantastic dive. Qui Bo went last and gave it everything he had, but could only score 100.80 points. Just like that, David Boudia became an Olympic gold medalist, and Qiu Bo was left shocked with a silver medal. Daley took bronze. Boudia is the first American to win a diving gold medal since 1992. Despite all the American gold these Olympics, there haven't really been any huge upset winners. Boudia certainly qualifies.
Other US Medals Team USA also won two bronzes today. The first was by Georgia Gould in the women's mountain bike race. The second was by Coleman Scott in the men's 60 kg freestyle wrestling class.
Not surprisingly, this is a big recap, so read on to the next page for more.
El Tri is Coming It was not a good day for fans of the US soccer team. In the men's gold medal match, Mexico scored just 29 seconds in, and added another in the 75th minute to seemingly sink Brazil. However, Brazil wouldn't give up, and Hulk scored in the 91st minute to make it 2-1. A few minutes later, right at the end of the match, it looked like Brazil would tie it up when Oscar was found in the box wide open. Unfortunately, Oscar somehow missed the wide open header, and the match ended immediately after. What's disconcerting for US fans is that this was an under-23 tournament primarily. While our top rivals Mexico won the thing and showed how dangerous they will be in the future, we didn't even qualify, and in fact choked away our oppoturnity to do so. It's not a good comparsion.
Today in Handball In the women's gold medal match, Norway faced off against tournament Cinderella Montenegro. The goalie for Montenegro was fantastic, saving 40% of shots faced (very good for handball), but it wasn't enough. The favored Norwegians led throughout and won the match and the gold medal 26-23. Montenegro can console themselves with the fact that they won their first Olympic medal as an independent nation.
In the bronze medal match, Spain defeated South Korea 31-29 in double overtime.
There was one other team sport final today. Germany defeated the Netherlands 2-1 in men's field hockey. I note this because the Dutch coach's name is Paul van Ass. Seriously.
Modern Pentathlon Update Because I know you care, the men's modern pentathlon was today. How it works is after the fencing, swimming, and show jumping parts, the field sets off on a combined cross country run with stations to shoot at 5 targets with a laser gun. The start is staggered based on the amount of points earned the first three events, with the leader going first and everyone else going on at certain intervals. David Svoboda of the Czech Republic started the run first, followed immediately by Zhongrong Cao of China. Cao was the better shooter this day, but Svoboda ran him down in the end and took the gold medal. Cao won the silver, Asia's first ever medal in modern pentathlon, and Adam Marosi of Hungary took the bronze. America Dennis Bowsher finished 32nd.
Medal Count Update USA! USA! It's obvious now that we will win the medal count, regardless of whether it's total medals or gold medals. The US leads China 102-87 in total medals, and 44-38 in golds. Great Britain remains third place in golds with 28, while Russia remains third in total medals with 78. A fuller analysis of the medal count will come tomorrow.
On Tap Tomorrow It's the final day, and you better get up early, since everything starts early in order to be done i time for the closing ceremonies. Since there isn't much left, here's the entire schedule for tomorrow (all times Eastern).
Team USA and Spain play for the gold medal in men's basketball at 10:00 am, a rematch of the Beijing final. I don't think I have to tell you what's at stake there. Argentina and Russia will play for bronze at 6:00 am.
The men's marathon traditionally concludes track and field, if not the entire Games themselves. The latter won't happen, since it's starts at 6 am, but it's still a symbol that it's almost over. Will Kenya finally win gold in an event you'd think they'd dominate?
Handball concludes with the men's gold medal game between France and Sweden at 10:00 am. Hungary and Croatia play for bronze at 6:00 am. The men's volleyball gold medal game pits Russia and Brazil at 8:00 am, and men's water polo has its gold medal match at 10:50 am between Croatia and Italy.
Gold medal boxing bouts in the flyweight, lightweight, welterweight, light heavyweight, and super heavyweight classes begin at 8:30 am. The men's mountain bike race begins at 8:30 am as well, as does the team rhythmic gymanstics competition if you are interested for some reason. Wrestling ends with the men's 66 kg and 96 kg freestyle classes. The gold medal matches are expected to start a little after 9 am.
Finally, 16 days after the women's 10 meter air rifle awarded the first Olympic medals of the 2012 Games, the final medals of the Games will come in the women's modern pentathlon. The competition takes most of the morning, but the final running/shooting combination that will decide the winner will start at around 1:00 pm eastern. The closing ceremonies begin around 4:00 pm eastern and will be streamed online by NBC if you are interested and can actually get the site to work.
Day 15 Olympic Recap