Recapping a Golden Day 8 for the Hosts [SPOILER ALERT]
The End of an Era Michael Phelps competed in the Olympics for the last time, swimming the butterfly leg of the men's medley relay. The US has never lost this event, and it showed, as Phelps and freestyler Nathan Adrian pulled away from Japan to take the gold. Phelps ends his career with an unreal 22 Olympic medals, 18 of them gold. The next most golds anyone else has is 9: Larisa Latynina, Carl Lewis, Paavo Nurmi, and Mark Spitz. Olympic legends all, and Phelps just blows them away. Between the sheer quantity and thrills he produced, a salute to the amazing career of Michael Phelps.
Also in the pool, the US women also won the medley relay. Missy Franklin won her fourth gold of the Games, Alison Schmidt and Dana Vollmer their third, and Rebecca Soni her second. Sun Yang broke the world record in winning the 1500 freestyle, and the Dutch woman with the impossible to spell name added the 50 freestyle to her 100 freestyle victory.
The US finishes swimming having won an incredible 16 gold medals (half the golds available) and 30 total.
Union Jack on the Track The world's fastest woman was crowned today, but I doubt many in Olympic Stadium really cared after what they had witnessed the previous hour. First, Jessica Ennis added to her heptathlon lead from day one and won the gold in style, winning her 800 meter heat (American Hyleas Fountain had a disastrous javelin and withdrew from the 800 meters). Then a few minutes later, Greg Rutherford won the long jump for the host country (American Will Claye won bronze). With the crowd in a frenzy, the men's 10000 meters started. In with the usual mix of Kenyans and Ethopians were Brit Mo Farah and American Galen Rupp. With two laps to go, Farah took the lead, and held off the field on the final lap sprint to win yet another gold for the hosts. Rupp, Farah's training partner, had a fantastic finishing kick to take the silver, America's first medal in the 10000 since 1964.
After all that, it was time for the women's 100 meters. The start was the key. Shelley Ann Fraser-Pryce had the best one, and she held on to repeat as World's Fastest Woman, in a time of 10.75 seconds. Fraser-Pryce joins Gail Devers (1992 and 1996) and Wyomia Tyus (1964 and 1968) as the only repeat gold medalists in the women's 100. Carmelita Jeter took silver, and Veronica Campbell-Brown bronze. American Tianna Madison was 4th, and Alyson Felix 5th, but with a personal best time, a good sign for her for the 200.
The men's 100 meters had its first round without incident. Ditto the men's 400, except for LaShawn Merritt not finishing his heat with an injury.
Tennis Beatdown, Anyone? Serena Williams took it to Maria Sharapova in the gold medal match and did not let up, winning 6-0, 6-1. Remember, this isn't some dinky tournament and an unknown opponent. This is an Olympic final at tennis's most hallowed ground against a player with a career Grand Slam. Serena was just on another planet this week, and she adds to her legacy, become the second woman to earn a Golden Slam (with Steffi Graf).
That wasn't the only high point for Americans today in tennis. Serena partnered with her sister Venus to advance to the doubles final, and the Bryan brothers won the gold in men's doubles.
Team USA Survives Two days after the crushing of Nigeria, today's game against Lithuania was much different for USA basketball. Lithuania, who's mostly recognizable player is Linus Kleiza, played a great game, while the US struggled in their usual small lineup. Lithuania actually lead with about four minutes to play until LeBron took over late. The US eventually won 99-94. If this was the wake up call the US needed, it's good it came out in group play. The team will play Argentina on Monday in its final group game.
It wasn't a good day overall for our team sports. Both the men's water polo and volleyball teams suffered their first losses of the tournament. The volleyball team's loss was especially bad, as they blew a two sets to none lead to Russia. Both teams have qualified for the knockout round. However, the women's field hockey team lost to New Zealand, officially eliminating them.
Some Things Never Change If there is one constant in soccer, it's England/Great Britain losing on penalties. Today in the quarterfinals against South Korea, it happened again. One Brit had his shot saved, and all five Koreans hit theirs. South Korea will face Brazil in the semis, who beat Honduras 4-2 in a game marred by excessive cards given out by the ref. The other semi will be Mexico (who beat Senegal 4-2 in extra time) and Japan (3-0 winners over Egypt).
This is going to be an extra long recap apparently, so turn to page 2 for the rest of today's action.