Today most observers were focused on Olympic Stadium and Wimbledon, and the action did not disappoint at either place. We start there for today's recap of Day 9 at the 2012 Olympics. As always, spoilers lurk here for NBC's prime time broadcast.
Fastest Man in the World The past few years, people have doubted Usain Bolt. There were reasons for that: his false start in the 2011 World Championship, rumors of him not working as hard, persistent back injuries, and the emergence of training partner Yohan Blake. Tonight, the night of the Olympic final in the 100 meter dash, Bolt made all those doubters look foolish. Bolt defended his gold medal in a blistering Olympic record time of 9.63. Blake was second with a 9.75, and Justin Gatlin third in 9.79 in what was the fastest race ever top to bottom. Seven of the eight runners ran under 10 seconds, the exception being Asafa Powell, who appeared to pull up with injury. Poor Tyson Gay ran a 9.80 and finished out of the medals. Tonight though belonged to Bolt, who emphatically took back his crown. All hail the World's Fastest Man.
Destiny Fulfilled Four years ago, Sanya Richards-Ross went out too fast in the 400 meter final and faded late to finished third. Tonight, she exorcised those demons and won a gold medal that was four years in the making in a time of 49.55. Great Britain's Christine Ohuruogu took silver and American Dee Dee Trotter took bronze.
Other track and field gold medal winners today were Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia in the women's marathon, Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan in the women's triple jump, Krisztian Pars of Hungary in the men's hammer throw, and Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya in the men's steeplechase.
Finally, double amputee Oscar Pistorius finished last in his 400 meter semifinal. However, after that race, heat winner Kirani James of Grenada went up to him and asked to switch bib names, similar to players switching jerseys after a soccer match. For those still wondering about whether Pistorius should be racing with able bodied athletes, note that his competitors don't seem to have a problem with it.
Finally His Time In his career, Andy Murray has come close many times, but had never gained the brass ring, meaning a Grand Slam title. Just a few weeks ago, he lost in front of his countrymen in the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer. Today though, Murray got another chance, going for gold against Federer back at Wimbledon, and this time he took full advantage. Murray played possibly his best match ever, while Federer was never in it and looked his age. The result was a Murray blowout that delighted the home fans: 6-2, 6-1, 6-4. It's not quite a Grand Slam, but Murray this summer has looked like he could challenge the Big Three, and Olympic gold only confirms it.
What Murray couldn't quite do was keep his run going with Laura Robson in the mixed doubles final, as they fell to Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi of Belarus. Serena Williams, however, did keep her dream Games going, partnering with Venus to take gold in women's doubles. Team USA added another medal to its tennis haul when Lisa Raymond and Mike Bryan took bronze in mixed doubles. Who says American tennis is dead?
Team USA Update We'll start on the beach volleyball sands, where our two female pairings both had little issues winning their quarterfinal matches. Their indoor counterparts also won easily today, beating Turkey in straight sets to finish pool play unbeaten. It wasn't a perfect victory though, as team captain Lindsey Berg left the match with an apparently ankle injury. The severity of that injury will be an important development going forward for the Americans.
Elsewhere, the women's water polo team won its quarterfinal match over Italy 9-6. Australia is up next in the semifinals. The women's basketball team continued its march to gold by crushing China 114-66 to end pool play undefeated and not particularly challenged.
I'm Sure We'll Get Over It Quickly Today was the first of the gymnastics event finals. On tap for the ladies was the vault, which for the US meant McKayla Maroney. Her first vault was excellent and put her in prime position, but on the second, she fell on her rear, and the resulting low score dropped her to silver medal position. While a silver medal is never anything to be ashamed about, I'm guessing the three idiot NBC gymnastics commentators will probably want Maroney deported or something equally ridiculous.
The men had their finals on floor exercise and pommel horse. A Chinese dude won on floor, while a Hungarian dude won on pommel horse in what appears to be a tiebreak over Louis Smith of Great Britain.
Women's Boxing Debuts Today were the first ever women's boxing Olympic bouts. While two of the US boxers had bye, the other, Queen Underwood, fought today and unfortunately was fairly handily defeated (we think) 21-13. Underwood has arguably has the most heartwrenching back story of any US Olympian, having been sexually abused for many years as a kid by her father. This was truly a situation was just getting here was an epic accomplishment, even if it didn't go as planned in the ring.
Today in Handball The women's tournament completed pool play today. Advancing out of Group A were Brazil, Croatia, Russia, and Montenegro (with Angola and Great Britain eliminated). Advancing out of Group B were France, South Korea, Spain, and Norway (with Denmark and Sweden eliminated, drastically reducing the Scandinavian babe quotient). The quarterfinals are Tuesday.
Medal Count Update Another diving ass whooping plus one last day of owning badminton have put China back in the lead, with 61 medals to our 60, and 30 golds to our 28. Great Britain remains third in both categories with 37 medals, 16 of them gold.
On Tap Tomorrow We all go back to work, but Olympic Stadium remains active with five more medals to be awarded, most notably in the men's 400 meters, where for the first time ever no American will be in the final. Three Americans however will be in the final of men's 400 meter hurdles. Medals will also be awarded in women's pole vault, women's shot put, and women's steeplechase. Heats start in the women's 200 meters and 100 meter hurdles.
The semifinals in women's soccer are also tomorrow. The first semifinal (noon eastern) pits France and Japan. The second (2:45 pm eastern) pits Canada against the United States. Men's beach volleyball produces the other win or go home action of the day with its quarterfinals.
Gymnastics continues the event finals with the men's rings, the women's uneven bars (including Gabby Douglas), and the men's vault.
Group play concludes in women's field hockey, men's handball, men's volleyball, men's water polo, and men's basketball. Team USA plays Argentina in the latter. Finally, we see the beginning of flatwater canoeing/kayaking and the end of the shooting program.
Olympics Day 9 Recap