Recapping Day 14 of the London Olympics [SPOILER ALERT]
USA! USA! The women's 4x100 relay looked to be another showdown between Jamaica and the United States. The score on the women's side was tied at 1 after Jamaica took the 100 and the US the 200. This time though, it wasn't even close. The US team of Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight, and Carmelita Jeter crushed the rest of the field, winning in an unbelievable time of 40.82 seconds. That shattered by over half a second the old record, set by East Germany 27 years ago. That team, of course, was blatantly doping. Today's athletes? Well...
Close, But Not Quite The United States normally dominates the men's 4x400 relay. However, there were so low on healthy bodies that they had to enlist hurdler Angelo Taylor to run in the final. Despite that, the US was looking like they could still win, only to be run down by the Bahamas in the stretch. It was the Bahamas' first gold medal ever by male athletes. The US still hold on for silver, while Trinidad and Tobago took bronze. Oscar Pistorius did run the anchor leg for South Africa, but they were well back and finished 8th.
It was also a close loss for Tirunesh Dibaba in the 5000. The Ethiopian was trying to repeat her double gold in the 5000 and 10000 from Beijing. She had the lead in the final lap, but this time was run down by countrywoman Meseret Defar, who went on to win the gold. Dibaba faded to bronze, but that's still a fantastic performance over two Olympics.
Heartbreak In the women's 1500 final, American Morgan Uceny appeared to be good position when the bell lap. However, she would soon trip and fall, ending her race and sending her off in tears. Bad luck has followed Uceny around. She fell in the 1500 final at the last world championships as well. Turkey's Asli Cakir Alptekin won the gold. Other track and field winners today were Renaud Lavillenie of France in the pole vault (with an Olympic record) and Tatyana Lysenko of Russia in the hammer throw.
Onto the Gold Medal Game It was a familiar pattern for USA basketball in today's semifinal against Argentina. Their opponents hung around for a while, particularly in the first half, before the US poured it on and cruised in the end. The result was a 109-83 US victory. They will face Spain in the final, who won a defensive battle with Russia 67-59. One concern for Team USA is Russell Westbrook, who left the game with an ankle injury.
He Saw Gold Wrestler Jordan Burroughs had made it clear what we was after. His Twitter handle is @alliseeisgold. Well, as they say, it isn't boasting if you can back it up, and that's exactly what Burroughs did, winning the gold in the 74kg freestyle class.
Team USA also picked up a medal in taekwondo today, a bronze by Paige McPherson in the 67 kg class.
Today in Handball On men's semifinal day, France showed why they are defending gold medalists and likely favorites to repeat. The French defeated fellow heavyweight Croatia 25-22, leading throughout and never letting the Croats in the game. The French goalie saved 19 shots. Given how handball is, I consider that one of the top athletic performances I've seen this entire Olympics. I'm not kidding. In the other semifinal, Sweden ended Hungary's Cinderella run 27-26. Hungary was close the whole game, but couldn't get over the hump at any point.
Team Sport Update The Netherlands won gold in women's field hockey, beating Argentina 2-0 in the gold medal match. Great Britain defeated New Zealand 3-1 for bronze.
In men's volleyball, Russia defeated Belarus in four sets and Brazil defeated Italy in straight sets to advance to the gold medal match.
In men's water polo, Croatia defeated Montenegro 7-5 and Italy defeated Serbia 9-7 to advance to the gold medal match. The United States lost to Spain 8-7 in the classification round, and will thus play Australia for 7th place.
Medal Count Update The US increased its lead over China in both medal counts, and look good to top both tables. The US has 94 medals to China's 81, and 41 gold medals to China's 37. Russia (63) and Great Britain (25, of 57 total) retain third place in total and gold medals respectively. Tunisia (men's open water swimming), Colombia (women's BMX), and Latvia (men's BMX) all picked up their first gold medals of these Games, while Bahrain picked up its first medal in London, a bronze in the women's 1500 meters.
On Tap Tomorrow The pentultimate day of competition is loaded, plain and simple, with 32 medals scheduled to be awarded. A quarter of those will be awarded in track and field, highlighted by the men's 4x100 relay. Not surprisingly, it looks to be another battle between Jamaica and the United States. Both teams looked strong in the heats, and that was without Usain Bolt or Tyson Gay respectively. It should be a good race, at least if the US can handle the baton. Medals will also be awarded in the women's 4x400 relay, women's 800, men's 5000, women's high jump, men's javelin, men's 50k race walk, and women's 20k race walk.
For Team USA, it's ladies' day, as the women's basketball and women's volleyball teams play for gold. The basketball team will face France at 4:00 pm, and the volleyball team will face Brazil at 1:30 pm. Finals will also occur in men's soccer (Brazil-Mexico, 10:00 am), men's field hockey (Germany-Netherlands, 3:00 pm), and women's handball (Norway-Montenegro, 3:30 pm).
Many sports conclude their programs tomorrow, highlighted by diving and the men's platform final. We also say goodbye to canoeing/kayaking, sailing, and taekwondo for these Games. Men's boxing, meanwhile, holds its first five gold medal bouts. The women's mountain bike race is also tomorrow.
Finally, the last sport left to make an entrance these Olympics starts competition, and that of course, is modern pentathlon. The men are up tomorrow, and will start with fencing, then swimming, and then riding. Then, because modern pentathlon isn't weird enough, the shooting and running portions of the competition are now combined. That part is scheduled to start around 1:45 pm eastern. In a perverse way, I'm excited about this.