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OLYMPICS

Olympic Daily News - Saturday, July 28

Ryan Lochte says he isn't here just to race against Michael Phelps. There are plenty of swimmers he has to beat.

And in the sport's first medal event at the London Olympics, Phelps wasn't really one of them.

Lochte easily won the men's 400-meter individual medley Saturday night by dusting a field of seven other swimmers.

Phelps? He was kept off the Olympic podium for the first time since he was 15, beaten by three other swimmers in a race he had won in each of the last two games.

"I'm really surprised he didn't medal just because whenever Michael swims he's always on the medal stand no matter what," said Lochte.

Not this time. Not here. The most anticipated race of these games, seen as a duel between the American teammates, took a daylong turn that started in the morning when Phelps barely qualified for the final, taking the eighth and final spot by just .07 seconds with one final surge in his heat.

Hours later, Phelps had no such recovery.

Lochte electrified the Aquatics Centre the way Phelps charged Beijing's Water Cube four years ago when he won the 400 IM for one of his record-setting eight gold medals.

Lochte led the grueling race for the final 350 meters. Which meant, of course, that he had his American teammate beat after the first 100 meters -- after the fly, Phelps' signature stroke.

Lochte finished the race, which includes all four strokes, in 4 minutes, 5.18 seconds. Phelps touched more than four seconds later in fourth place, with two swimmers in between.

"I was trying to find a gear that I couldn't find," said Phelps, who swum in the unfamiliar eighth lane because of his poor heat. "I felt fine for the first 200 (meters) and spent the last 200 struggling. I have swum better races and been better prepared. It was a very frustrating finish."

Brazil's Thiago Pereira and Japan's Kosuke Hagiono took silver and bronze. Lochte beat Pereira to the wall by 3.68 seconds -- a rout -- for his fourth career gold and seventh Olympic medal overall.

"I've said this before that this is my year. I know and I feel it just because I've put in hard work," said Lochte, 27. "I've trained my butt of for four years. I just feel it in my gut."

Phelps, in what he swears is his last Summer Games, remained stuck on 16 medals -- still two short of tying the overall Olympic record, though he will probably swim six more races here, including another against Lochte. He had been 16-for-16 in winning medals the last two Olympics, including a record 14 golds.

"I honestly don't think it was a fitness issue," said Phelps' coach, Bob Bowman. "I thought he was in a good place mentally."

Said Lochte, who also beat Phelps in the race at U.S. trials last month: "Michael still is one of the world's greatest. And no matter what happens, he will always go down as one of the greatest."

Lochte said it was "weird" not having Phelps on the medal stand next to him while he stood on the top podium as the U.S. anthem played. Everyone -- even Lochte -- figured the teammates would finish first and second in some order.

Lochte said Phelps offered his congratulations after the race was over while the two were in the massage area together. Phelps told him "way to go" -- way to keep the Olympic 400 IM title in U.S. hands.

"He was definitely proud of me," said Lochte. "I know at the same time he was kind of upset but it is probably more motivation for him the rest of the meet."

Phelps never led. He was running third after the first 50 meters and second after 100 and 150, but trailed off toward the end of the backstroke and as the swimmers reached the breaststroke.

By the time they got around to the freestyle, Lochte was quickly pulling away and Phelps was simply fighting for a medal.

"A lot of people say Michael is inhuman. But you know what, he's just like all of us," said Lochte. "He trains harder, though, and he knows how to win. And that's what you really have to learn is trying to find ways to beat him.

"But's he's only one person. There's other athletes out there that you gotta worry about. The best thing you can do is learn how to race. You have to race tough. You can't always keep your mind on one person. You gotta think about everyone else."

Saturday those guys were named Pereira and Hagino. How strange.

AUSSIES GET RELAY OR; COUGHLIN TIES U.S. RECORD

London, England (Sports Network) - Australia won the women's 400-meter freestyle relay Saturday night in Olympic-record time while Natalie Coughlin tied a U.S. record without swimming in the race.

The Netherlands took silver behind the Aussies and the American foursome of Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Lia Neal and Allison Schmitt won bronze.

Coughlin also gets a bronze for swimming in the morning qualifying heats, her 12th career medal -- tying her with fellow swimmers Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres for most among American women at the Olympics.

SUN BEATS PARK TO WIN 400 FREE

London, England (Sports Network) - China's Sun Yang beat 2008 Olympic champion Park Tae-hwan of South Korea to win the men's 400-meter freestyle on Saturday night.

Sun broke Ian Thorpe's Olympic record with a time of 3 minutes, 40.14 seconds, touching nearly two seconds before Park, who had been reinstated for the final after his country successfully protested a disqualification in the morning heats.

American Peter Vanderkaay won the bronze medal and teammate Conor Dwyer finished fifth.

It was an up-and-down day for Park, who was DQ'd in the morning for a false start only to learn hours later that he was in the final after a ruling by FINA.

"I felt bad. I was almost heartbroken, but I decided I would not think about it," said Park. "There was a problem but now it is solved."

Ryan Cochrane, the Canadian record holder in the 400, was bumped from the eighth and final qualifying spot when Park was shifted back in.

Earlier, Cochrane had written on Twitter: "Snuck right in that final for tonight! I'm excited to see how it all pans out..." before adding, "anything can happen at the olympics!"

Vanderkaay collected his fourth Olympic medal and second bronze. The other two are relay golds from Athens and Beijing.

YE WINS WOMEN'S 400 IM; BEISEL TAKES SILVER

London, England (Sports Network) - China's Ye Shiwen set a world record to win gold in the women's 400-meter individual medley Saturday night, beating world champion Elizabeth Beisel of the U.S.

Australia's Stephanie Rice, the 2008 gold medalist, ended way back in sixth.

Ye's swim of 4 minutes, 28.43 seconds bested Rice's world record from Beijing by more than a second.

Beisel finished 2.84 seconds back for her first Olympic medal and said she was "totally satisfied" despite being the favorite.

"A gold would be a little bit cooler," she said, "but I can't complain. I'm just really excited."

China's Li Xuanxu took bronze.

AMERICAN VOLLMER BREEZES INTO 100 FLY FINAL

London, England (Sports Network) - American Dana Vollmer qualified fastest in the women's 100-meter butterfly semifinals Saturday night, capping a dominant day for her at London's Aquatics Centre.

In the morning heats, the 24-year-old Vollmer set Olympic and U.S. records with a time of 56.25 seconds -- beating a 12-year-old games mark held by Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands.

Vollmer was .11 seconds off that pace in the evening but still easily made Sunday's final.

U.S. teammate Claire Donahue also got one of the eight spots, qualifying in fifth place, but Canada's Katerine Savard missed out.

HANSEN MAKES 100 BREAST FINAL

London, England (Sports Network) - American Brendan Hansen, back at the Olympics once again after shunning retirement for another chance to win an individual gold medal, will at least have a shot at it.

Hansen qualified for the final of the 100-meter breaststroke Saturday night at the London Games, sneaking in with the eighth and final spot by .11 seconds.

Cancer survivor Eric Shanteau of the U.S. didn't make it, coming in 11th in the semifinals.

Hansen has two Olympic gold medals, but both came in relays. He won a silver and bronze medal in individual events at the 2004 Athens Games.

ITALY SWEEPS WOMEN'S FOIL; VEZZALI TAKES BRONZE

London, England (Sports Network) - Valentina Vezzali came up short in her personal bid for Olympic history, but she still claimed bronze as Italy swept the women's foil competition in the first fencing event of the London Games.

Elisa Di Francisca won gold, defeating fellow Italian Arianna Errigo, 12-11, in extra time. However, Vezzali failed in her attempt to win gold in this event for a fourth straight Olympics, but she did make a thrilling comeback to win the bronze medal.

It marked the first time Italy had won all the medals in a women's event in an any sport at the Olympic Games. The sweep was only the second in the history of women's foil, following West Germany's gold, silver, and bronze showing at the 1988 Summer Games.

The 38-year-old Vezzali was trying to become the first woman to win individual gold in the same event at four consecutive Olympics. Americans Carl Lewis (long jump) and Al Oerter (discus) remain the only Olympians to pull off the feat.

Despite heading into the semifinal showdown with a 13-2 lifetime record against Errigo, Vezzali lost to her 24-year-old compatriot by a 15-12 margin. The three-time gold medalist then needed to erase a 12-8 deficit in the final minute of the third period against South Korea's Nam Hyun Hee en route to a 13-12 victory in extra time of the bronze medal bout.

"It was such a tough battle for the bronze medal, but in the end I managed to get it," said Vezzali. "Although my goal was of course to get my fourth gold in a row."

Di Francisca also rallied for the win in the gold medal match. Errigo led 11-8 in the last minute of the third period, but Di Francisca eventually won the contest in extra time.

American Lee Kiefer finished fifth in the overall standings.

VINOKOUROV WINS SURPRISE GOLD IN ROAD RACE

London, England (Sports Network) - Kazakhstan's Alexander Vinokourov was the gold medalist in the men's road race Saturday at the London Olympics, outsprinting Colombian Rigoberto Uran in a surprise finish that didn't include Great Britain's Mark Cavendish.

Uran and Vinokourov attacked a small group of riders about seven kilometers from the finish, getting enough of a gap for them to hold. The chase group never got organized, leaving gold and silver for the two leading riders.

The 38-year-old Vinokourov then jumped with a few hundred meters to go, easily winning the sprint to take his second Olympic medal. He won silver in the road race at the 2000 Sydney Games.

"It's just unbelievable," Vinokourov said. "I finished the Tour de France a little tired, but the Olympics, I must go there."

Norway's Alexander Kristoff won the sprint among the chasers to take bronze, while American Taylor Phinney finished just outside the podium in fourth.

"Some would call fourth place the worst to arrive at the Olympics, but I won't focus on that," Phinney said.

The British team entered the race with intentions to deliver Cavendish -- the reigning world champion and 23-time Tour de France stage winner -- to a sprint final.

They bet all their chips on him, and Cavendish was considered a safe bet, the favorite.

Only the race never got to that point. Cavendish's team -- which included Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins and other strong riders -- managed to control the 250-kilometer race for most of the Box Hill circuits.

A small breakaway group, which included American Timmy Duggan, lingered off the front of the main field for most of those circuits. They built up a lead of a little more than four minutes, but the British kept them close.

However, several smaller groups attacked off the front, and some of them stuck. That's how Phinney and another American, Tejay van Garderen, along with Swiss star Fabian Cancellara and Belgian Philippe Gilbert, bridged up.

On the last time up Box Hill, the leading breakaway group led by about a minute, but the British team didn't reel them in. And they couldn't with so many strong riders working together.

Kilometer after kilometer, the gap stayed the same -- about a minute. With 25km to go, it seemed clear that the British strategy had failed and the breakaway would succeed.

"We rode the race we wanted to ride," Cavendish said. "We couldn't pull the group back on Box Hill. Other teams were content that if they didn't win, we wouldn't win. We expected it."

Cancellara lost his chance at a medal when he crashed while going around a corner with 15km remaining. He apparently misjudged a right-hand turn, going into it with too much speed, and went head-first into a barrier. Cancellara got back on his bike, but held his right arm off the handlebar. He appeared to have an injury that could thwart his chances at medalling in Wednesday's time trial.

After the crash, a group of about 25 went on toward the line. Several riders attacked, but only the one by Uran and Vinokourov stuck.

"I decided to attack out of the last group," Uran said. "It was the right moment to attack and I continued until the finish line."

The victory is a fitting one for Vinokourov, who has been an attacking rider his entire career and often takes opportunities when they present themselves.

But the result may give Olympic organizers pause, because Vinokourov has served a suspension for doping. He came out of retirement in 2009, and in 2010 won Liege-Bastogne-Liege, a prestigious one-day race.

He took that victory in similar fashion to Saturday's, attacking his breakaway companion close to the finish line. However, a Swiss magazine later reported that Vinokourov paid the runner-up and published alleged and damning emails between the two.

Vinokourov has said that 2012 would be his final season as a competitive cyclist, and hadn't won prior to Saturday. Now, he'll go out a gold medalist.

"I knew if I followed the group, I would have no chance in the sprint," Vinokourov said. "Uran and I worked well together. This victory to finish my career."

ITALY EDGES U.S. MEN FOR ARCHERY GOLD ON FINAL ARROW

London, England (Sports Network) - Michele Frangilli shot a bull's-eye with the final arrow, giving his Italian team a one-point win over the United States in the gold medal match of the men's archery team competition.

Italy earned its first gold medal in the event with the 219-218 decision, having taken silver behind South Korea in 2000 and '08. The U.S. knocked off the heavily favored Koreans in the semifinals.

"We have won a medal as a team and that's special," said American Brady Ellison of the silver. "I'm here with my guys. Now we are fired up for the individual."

South Korea took bronze against Mexico by a 224-219 margin.

The Americans were the last country other than South Korea to win gold, in 1996, though their chances for another decreased after falling behind by four points after 15 of 24 arrows.

But the U.S. team of Jake Kaminski, Jacob Wukie and Brady Ellison combined for 29 points to finish the third of four ends -- which are combinations of point totals from six shots.

In the team competition, each member from one team shoots in succession before the other team does the same. They do that twice per end, and an 8 by Marco Galiazzo in Italy's last rotation allowed the U.S. to trim the difference to two.

The U.S. got within a point after the team's first rotation of the fourth end, thanks to an 8 by Frangilli.

But by the time he stepped up to shoot again, he had the final arrow and Italy was down by 9 points. He fired an arrow that stuck into the target on the border between the center -- worth 10 points -- and the 9-point range. It counted as 10, and the Italians broke into a wild celebration.

"I don't know what happened. I was just shooting my arrow," said Frangilli. "I had a few seconds left. I tried to give all I had to give. I am happy because I managed to empty my mind."

Saturday's competition featured an elimination round, along with quarterfinals, semifinals and the two medal bouts.

The U.S. and South Korea received byes into the quarterfinals based on the strength of their qualifying performances, along with China and France.

The Americans scored a comeback win against Japan in the quarterfinals, winning by just one point. The Japanese had beaten India in an elimination match shootoff, then were leading the Americans. But a strong performance in the final two ends gave the U.S. the win.

Also in the quarterfinals, South Korea won against the Ukraine, which had earlier ousted Great Britain. Italy beat China, which won bronze four years ago, in the quarters.

The U.S. then scored an upset victory against South Korea in the semis. The American trio out-pointed the Koreans in the final three ends for a 224-219 triumph.

It was an upset because South Korea had won the last three gold medals in the event, and broke its 216-arrow world record in Friday's ranking round. During that stage, Im Dong-Hyun, who is legally blind in one eye, broke his own world record.

Italy edged Mexico by two points in the semifinals.

CHINA'S YI TAKES SHOOTING GOLD

London, England (Sports Network) - Yi Siling claimed the first gold medal of the London Games for China, winning the women's 10-meter air rifle competition with a score of 502.9.

Yi, who is competing at her first Olympics, was the clear favorite in this event and she bested Poland's Sylwia Bogacka for gold. Bogacka won her first Olympic medal by posting a score of 502.2.

"I have been up since five this morning. There was a lot of pressure on me" said Yi. "I was quite nervous and I just focused on the competition."

The bronze medal also went to China as Yu Dan finished third with a score of 501.5.

Czech Republic's Katerina Emmons, who won gold in this event four years ago in Beijing, finished fourth, while Jamie Lynn Gray of the United States placed fifth. Emmons is the wife of American shooter Matt Emmons.

Sarah Scherer of the U.S. finished in seventh place.

SOUTH KOREA'S JIN WINS GOLD IN SHOOTING

London, England (Sports Network) - Jin Jongoh of South Korea won the men's 10-meter air pistol event Saturday at the London Olympics, giving him four medals at the Summer Games.

Jin qualified for the medal round with the top score and won the event with 100.2 points in the final 10 shots. He finished with a total score of 688.2 to beat first-time Olympian Luca Tesconi of Italy by 2.4 points.

"It's a fairytale, it's the best day of my life," said Tesconi.

This is the second gold medal for Jin, who won the 50m pistol event at the 2008 Beijing Games. He won silver in the 10m air pistol in Beijing and also took silver in the 50m pistol eight years ago in Athens.

"The Chinese guy (Pang Wei) won the gold last time. I promised myself that I would not let it happen this time," Jin quipped.

Andrija Zlatic of Serbia picked up the bronze, finishing just 0.6 points behind Tesconi. After winning the competition in Beijing, Pang finished fourth this time around to fall just short of medalling in this event for the second straight Olympics.

China's Tan Zongliang, a two-time world champion and Beijing silver medalist in the 50m pistol, failed to qualify for the final round. He finished in 12th place.

Daryl Szarenski turned in the best result for the United States, placing 23rd, while fellow American Jason Turner, who won bronze in this event in Beijing, ended in 34th place.

RUSSIA'S GALSTYAN, BRAZIL'S MENEZES GRAB JUDO GOLD

London, England (Sports Network) - Russian Arsen Galstyan earned gold in the men's 60kg event on Saturday, while Sarah Menezes of Brazil captured judo gold in the women's 48kg.

After besting favorite Rishod Sobirov in the semifinals, Galstyan earned the top medal in his Olympic debut with a win over Japan's Hiroaki Hiraoka. The 23-year-old had won a world cup in Spain earlier this year and needed just 41 seconds to score an ippon.

"I can't believe it yet that I won," said Galstyan. "I was determined to go for the gold. My dream was to become an Olympic champion."

Hiraoka's silver gave Japan its seventh all-time medal in this event, leading all countries.

Sobirov failed to become the first Uzbek judoka to win an Olympic gold, but the reigning world champion did pick up a bronze medal for a second straight Olympics. Also grabbing bronze in the event was Brazil's Felipe Kitadai.

Menezes, a former bronze medal winner in the world championships, bested 2008 Beijing gold medal winner Alina Dumitru of Romania to capture her first Olympic medal.

With the win, Menezes captured Brazil's first gold medal in a woman's judo event and first in the sport since a gold in the men's 66kg at the 1992 Games.

"I'm loving this moment. It's the first time a Brazilian woman has won an Olympic gold medal (in judo)," noted Menezes. "I had to control my anxiety and tiredness but I'm so happy. The women of Brazil have fought so hard to get a medal."

Dumitru came in as the favorite thanks to her Beijing medal as well as three world medals. The 29-year-old had announced at the recent European Championships that she plans to retire following the London Games and is staying true to her word.

"This is my last Olympic Games. I want to go and have a family," she said.

The bronze medals in the women's 48kg matches went to Belgium's Charline van Snick and Eva Csernoviczki of Hungary. The 21-year-old van Snick topped 2008 bronze medal winner Paula Pareto of Argentina, while Csernoviczki captured her country's first medal of any kind since 1992.

CHINA'S WANG WINS WEIGHTLIFTING GOLD

London, England (Sports Network) - Weightlifter Wang Mingjuan won the women's 48-kilogram event on Saturday for China's second gold medal of the London Olympics.

Wang, 26, remained undefeated in international competition for the last 10 years and captured gold in her first Summer Games.

"I was so focused on the game," said Wang. "I put all my heart and soul into my lifts and made sure I followed my coach's instructions."

Picked over countrywoman Tian Yuan, Wang lifted 91 kilograms in the snatch and 114 in the clean and jerk for a total of 205.

Japan's Hiromi Miyake earned the silver with 197 kilograms while North Korea's Ryang Chun Hwa finished with 192 for bronze, beating Thailand's Pramongkhol Sirivimon by 1 kg.

Earlier, China's Yi Siling claimed the first gold medal of the London Olympics in the women's 10-meter air rifle competition.

China won an Olympics-best 51 gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games.

FEDERER SURVIVES SCARE; ISNER AMONG WINNERS IN OLYMPIC TENNIS

Wimbledon, England (Sports Network) - Wimbledon champion Roger Federer returned to his beloved Centre Court at the All England Club and nearly left a loser as the Olympic tournament opened Saturday.

Federer claimed his seventh Wimbledon title just three weeks ago by beating Scotland's Andy Murray, but on Saturday was forced to go the distance in an opening-round Olympic win over Colombia's Alejandro Falla.

The top-seeded Swiss superstar was on the verge of a straight-set win, but Falla won the final three games of the second set to force a third -- the Olympics are a best-of-three until the final. Federer, though, managed to prevail and emerged with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 triumph.

It wasn't the first time Federer has struggled against Falla. Two years ago in the first round at Wimbledon, Falla took the 17-time Grand Slam champ to five sets before finally falling.

"I've struggled against Falla in the past at times," said Federer, who wasted three match points in the second set. "All of a sudden I missed the match points, things got difficult and he played a great match to come back. I'm relieved of course. Falla is a great player, counter-punches well, plays really well and made things really difficult for me."

Next up for Federer will be Frenchman Julien Benneteau, who toppled Russian Mikhail Youzhny, 7-5, 6-3. Benneteau nearly upended Federer at Wimbledon in the third round a few weeks ago, losing in five sets.

American John Isner, who played the longest-ever Grand Slam match two years ago at Wimbledon, also advanced with a 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 triumph over Belgium's Olivier Rochus. The 10th-seeded Isner will next face Tunisia's Malek Jaziri, who moved on with a three-set win over Taiwan's Yen-Hsun Lu.

There were a couple of upsets on Saturday as sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych and 14th-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain were eliminated. Belgium's Steve Darcis pulled off a 6-4, 6-4 win over Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up, while Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin knocked out Verdasco in a 6-4, 7-6 (11-9) decision.

Seventh-seeded Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia posted a 6-3, 6-4 win over Argentine veteran David Nalbandian, the 2002 Wimbledon finalist. Tipsarevic will next face Germany's Philipp Petzschner, who cruised past Slovakia's Lukas Lacko, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.

Other seeded winners Saturday included Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, Spain's Nicolas Almagro and Frenchman Gilles Simon.

The eighth-seeded del Potro eased past Croatia's Ivan Dodig, 6-4, 6-1, and will next take on Italy's Andreas Seppi, a 6-4, 6-4 winner over American Donald Young.

Almagro, seeded 11th, topped Serbia's Viktor Troicki in straight sets to earn a second-round matchup with Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr., who beat Argentina's Carlos Berlocq.

Simon, the 12th seed, dominated in a 6-4, 6-2 win over Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin and will next take on Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, who ousted Poland's Lukasz Kubot.

Gilles Muller of Luxembourg thumped Romania's Adrian Ungur, 6-3, 6-3, and will next play Istomin. Colombia's Santiago Giraldo dumped American Ryan Harrison in two sets and will meet Darcis in round two.

Doubles action on Saturday included a win for the top-seeded American duo of Mike and Bob Bryan. They needed three sets to get past Brazilians Thomaz Bellucci and Andre Sa. However, Isner and Andy Roddick were straight-set losers to another Brazilian duo -- Bruno Soares and Marcelo Melo.

The first round continues Sunday with singles matches for Novak Djokvoic, Andy Murray, David Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Roddick.

Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew on Saturday because of a hamstring injury he sustained during the final in Austria. He will be replaced by someone in the doubles draw.

TOP CHINESE DOUBLES TEAMS WIN BADMINTON OPENERS

London, England (Sports Network) - The top-seeded Chinese pairs in men's, women's and mixed doubles all won Saturday as badminton group play got started at the London Olympics.

All five categories -- men's and women's singles and doubles, and mixed doubles -- began competition at Wembley Arena.

In every doubles category, China has the top-seeded and reigning world champion team. Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang won in women's doubles, Cai Yun and Fu Haifeng claimed a victory in their men's doubles opener, while Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei took their first match in the mixed category.

The Chinese are dominant in the sport, sweeping the gold medals at last year's world championships. They also won three golds at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but have never won an Olympic gold in men's doubles. Cai and Fu were silver medallists in '08.

In the men's singles draw, none of the top 10 seeds played Saturday. Indonesian Taufik Hidayat, the No. 11 seed, did compete and earned a win against Czech Peter Koukal. Hidayat won gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics in the event.

Other seeded players to earn victories in men's singles were Dane Jan O Jorgensen (No. 12), South Korea's Son Wan Ho (13) and German Marc Zwiebler (14).

Indonesia's Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir, seeded third, notched a two- game victory over India's Diju V and Jwala Gutta in mixed doubles. Gutta is one of the players affected by a drastic, late change to the badminton schedule. An oversight by officials in regard to the competition format forced the change, which resulted in an apology from the sport's world federation.

Gutta had to play twice and lost both matches. She was also defeated in a women's doubles bout.

In women's singles, third-seeded Li Xuerui of China, sixth-seeded Juliane Schenk of Germany, and eighth-seeded Korean Sung Ji Hyun were victors. Briton Susan Egelstaff also won her opening match.

Group play continues Sunday and runs through Tuesday.

U.S. WOMEN TOPPLE CROATIA IN OLYMPIC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

London, England (Sports Network) - Tina Charles scored 14 points and Angel McCoughtry added 13, as the United States opened its quest for another Olympic gold medal in women's basketball with an 81-56 victory over Croatia.

The Americans have won the last four gold medals and six of the nine since women's basketball became an Olympic sport in 1976. They might be more of an overwhelming favorite for another gold than their male counterparts.

Saturday wasn't as much of a blowout as the score indicated. The Americans held the Croats to just four points in a sluggish first quarter and it was just 53-47 heading to the fourth, but the U.S. eventually pulled away.

The Americans scored the first nine points and held the Croats without a basket until Marija Vrsaljko scored with just under two minutes left in the opening quarter.

Croatia, though, dominated the early portion of the second quarter as a 14-0 run turned a 21-9 deficit into a surprising 23-21 lead. A three-pointer moments later by Jelena Ivezic gave the Croats a 26-23 advantage.

Diana Taurasi then turned the tide with back-to-back three-pointers and the Americans never trailed again. The Croats, though, went into the break down just 31-28.

Ivezic's bucket to start the third quarter pulled Croatia within one and it was a 36-36 game with just under six minutes left in the period. Lindsay Whalen scored four in a 6-0 U.S. burst that created a little breathing room, 47-40, and the Americans carried a 53-47 lead to the final period.

After Vrsaljko started the fourth with a bucket for the Croats, the Americans scored the next 16 points to finally put it away. Tamika Catchings' three- point play with just under six minutes left gave the U.S. a 69-49 cushion and Croatia never recovered.

Catchings chipped in 10 points for the Americans and Whalen scored nine. Charles added 10 rebounds for a double-double, while Candace Parker contributed her own double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds. The Americans held a commanding 57-32 edge on the boards.

Ivezic led Croatia with 22 points, while Vrsaljko supplied 19 in defeat. Only four other players scored for the Croats.

CHINA WINS OLYMPIC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL OPENER

London, England (Sports Network) - Ma Zengyu scored 16 points and Miao Lijie added 12, leading China to a 66-57 victory over the Czech Republic in the Olympic women's basketball opener.

Gao Song and Chen Nan each chipped in 10 points for the Chinese, who never trailed after the Czechs scored the game's opening basket but couldn't put it away until late.

Eva Viteckova scored 14 points for the Czech Republic, while Katerina Elhotova contributed 13.

After Ilona Burgrova's basket gave the Czechs a 2-0 lead, Gao countered with a three-pointer to start an 8-0 run for the Chinese. A Chen bucket inside gave China a 15-4 cushion, but the Czechs battled back and trailed 20-16 after one quarter.

The Czechs tied it at 24-24 midway through the second, but China again quickly opened an eight-point margin and carried a 36-29 advantage to the break. The Chinese led by as many as 12 in the third quarter and took a 51-44 edge into the fourth.

A three-pointer by the Czech Republic's Michaela Zrustova tied it at 53-53 with 7 1/2 minutes remaining, but Chen scored inside to ignite a 12-2 run that finally sealed it for China.

TURKEY THUMPS ANGOLA IN WOMEN'S HOOPS

London, England (Sports Network) - Emine Tugba Palazoglu scored 13 points to lead Turkey to a 72-50 victory over Angola in the women's basketball tournament.

Bahar Caglar made each of her five shots and added 11 points in the victory, while Saziye Ivegin and Kuanitra Holingsvorth each chipped in 10 for Turkey, which opened the game with the first 13 points and never trailed.

Nacissela Mauricio led Angola with 11 points.

Caglar scored four during Turkey's opening 13-0 run and it was 21-8 after the opening quarter. Angola trailed by 10 at halftime, 35-25, but Turkey opened the second half with the first seven points and led by as many as 24 down the stretch.

FRANCE PULLS AWAY LATE TO BEAT BRAZIL

London, England (Sports Network) - Celine Dumerc scored a game-high 23 points and France used a dominant fourth quarter to post a 73-58 win over Brazil in the women's basketball tournament.

Edwige Lawson-Wade and Endene Miyem contributed eight points apiece for France, which outscored Brazil by a 21-9 margin in the fourth quarter. France entered the final frame with a three-point lead.

Miyem also grabbed a team-best seven rebounds.

Erika Souza had 17 points to pace Brazil, while Karla Costa supplied 13 points in defeat.

AUSTRALIA TRUMPS GREAT BRITAIN IN WOMEN'S HOOPS

London, England (Sports Network) - Lauren Jackson had 18 points, Suzy Batkovic scored 10 and Australia topped Great Britain, 74-58, in the women's basketball tournament.

Jenna O'Hea, Samantha Richards and Abby Bishop each scored eight points for Australia, which outscored Great Britain in every quarter.

Australia led by five after the first quarter and held a 39-26 lead at halftime.

Natalie Stafford contributed 12 points to pace Great Britain, while Johannah Leedham donated 11 points in the loss.

U.S. MEN OFF TO GOOD START AFTER GYMNASTIC QUALIFIERS

London, England (Sports Network) - The U.S. men's gymnastics team used a pair of great all-around efforts and some early swagger to announce their medal contention at the London Games.

It didn't hurt that two of their biggest adversaries put together some mistake-laden performances.

Behind solid showings from Danell Leyva and John Orozco, the United States earned a score of 275.342 to lead all teams in Saturday's qualifier.

The American duo didn't show any nerves in their Olympic debuts, posting two of the highest all-around scores. Leyva used a team-high score on the horizontal bar for his leading 91.265 mark, while Orozco was fourth overall with a 90.597 score.

In fact, the only gymnast of the five-person team with Olympic experience, Jonathan Horton, fell on both the pommel horse and parallel bars. Samuel Mikulak also had a miscue on the horizontal bar.

Those missteps did little do rattle a squad looking to win gold for the first time since 1984.

"Can we just get the medals now," asked Horton, a veteran of the 2008 Beijing Games, when asked of repeating the team's performance in Monday's team final.

Horton had a reason for confidence after fellow contenders China and Japan struggled.

Saturday marked a slow start for the Chinese in defense of their 2008 Beijing gold medal. China found itself sixth overall in the team standings after replacement Guo Weiyang struggled.

Guo fell off the pommel horse and also struggled in earlier rotations. He failed to cleanly land one of his tumbling presses on the floor exercise and also fell forward on his dismount from the parallel bars.

The Chinese replaced Teng Haibin with Guo due to a torn muscle in his left forearm suffered by the former while training in mid-July. Teng had won gold at the 2004 Games in Athens on the pommel horse.

However, Guo's miscues, as well as one by Zhang Chenglong on the pommel horse, hampered China to a score of 269.985.

Japan, which features three-time individual all-around world champion Kohei Uchimura, finished just above China in fifth with a score of 270.503. Uchimura fell on both the horizontal bar and the pommel horse while brothers Kazuhito and Yusuke Tanaka also committed errors on the day.

Uchimura ended with the ninth-best all-around score on the night with an 89.764 mark. He won silver in the all-around four years ago and is favored to win the gold in London.

Great Britain also took advantage and finished third on the day with a score of 272.420, just .175 behind Russia. The hosts were paced by excellent performances out of Kristian Thomas (90.256) and Daniel Purvis (89.199).

"It is just awesome," said Purvis of finishing ahead of China following the first subdivision. "To be honest we were just trying to hit our routines, so to beat them is just great. But China are the world champions, they are awesome and I really think they'll pull it up a level on Monday."

Japan won silver in Beijing, with the United States finishing third.

In addition to Monday's team final, the individual all-around final is scheduled for Wednesday and the apparatus finals are set for Aug. 5-7.

U.S. LINEUP SET FOR WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS QUALIFICATION

London, England (Sports Network) - Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman will be the United States' all-around competitors in women's gymnastics at the London Olympics, while the injured McKayla Maroney is competing in the vault.

USA Gymnastics released its women's lineup for qualifying on Sunday, when the Americans will be in the third of five subdivisions. Qualifying rounds will determine which teams and individuals advance to the finals.

Maroney aggravated a previous toe fracture in training last week, and had bruising and swelling. USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said she trained well and is ready to compete. She is a favorite to win gold in the vault after doing so at the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo.

Wieber is a threat for the all-around title, having won at worlds in Tokyo, as well as the Pacific Rim Championships and the Visa Championships this year. Douglas took silver at the Visa Championships while helping the U.S. to team gold at worlds last year.

Kyla Ross will compete in the uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise for the Americans.

The women's team final takes place July 31, while the individual all-around medals will be awarded August 2. Apparatus finals are scheduled from August 5-7.

USA CLINCHES QUARTERFINAL BERTH IN WOMEN'S SOCCER

Glasgow, Scotland (Sports Network) - The United States booked a place in the quarterfinals of the women's soccer competition on Saturday by dispatching Colombia, 3-0, in Group G play.

The Americans have claimed six points from their first two matches after a 4-2 triumph against France on the opening day of the tournament, while Colombia has lost its first two contests without scoring a goal.

Megan Rapinoe opened the scoring for the U.S. in the 33rd minute before the Americans turned up the pressure in the second half with goals from Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd.

"I didn't quite see all the things I wanted to see after the first game," said United States head coach Pia Sundhage. "In the first half the speed of play could have been better, but although it wasn't the best game, we scored three goals and got three points so that is the most important thing."

The opening goal came after a tight first 30 minutes and it loosened up the game a bit after Rapinoe beat goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda with a well-placed chip from 20 yards that just managed to slip under the crossbar.

Rapinoe nearly doubled the lead before halftime when she redirected a ball on target that was cleared off the goal line by a Colombia defender.

But the second 45 minutes belonged to the U.S. with Tobin Heath setting up a first-time finish for Wambach from inside the penalty area with a pinpoint pass.

Wambach struck the crossbar a few minutes later as the Americans continued to pressure the Colombia defense, and it paid off shortly after that as Rapinoe laid off a pass to Lloyd, who burst through the middle of the back line to slot a shot inside the left post.

"Lloyd's goal was a beautiful move and Megan played a big part in that. She makes good decisions and the way she is playing she is having a huge impact," Sundhage said of Rapinoe. She has had two good games."

The U.S. will face North Korea in its final game of group play before moving on to the knockout round, while Colombia finishes up its tournament against France.

The French bounced back from their defeat against the Americans in a big way on Saturday, handing North Korea a 5-0 defeat that puts France in position to secure a place in the knockout round with a win over Colombia.

Canada put itself in position to advance beyond the group stage after Christine Sinclair scored a pair of second-half goals in a 3-0 win over South Africa in Group F play on Saturday.

Following a 2-1 defeat against Japan on the opening day, Canada needed to take three points from its game against South Africa, and the Canadians got off to a great start when Melissa Tancredi put them in front after seven minutes.

Canada was in control for much of the game but it wasn't until Sinclair's goal in the 58th minute that the result was secure.

"On some days there's just no stopping Christine," said Canada coach John Herdman. "But the fact that Melissa scores as well takes some of the weight off Christine's shoulders. It shows that there's more to us than just Christine. We depended on her for too long."

The Canadian captain then added another tally in the last five minutes to seal the win, which puts the team one point behind both Sweden and Japan in Group F after those two sides played to a 0-0 draw on Saturday.

Canada will face Sweden on July 31 with a chance to clinch a place in the next round with a win.

Brazil coasted to a 5-0 victory against Cameroon in its opening match, but found things to be much more difficult against New Zealand on Saturday.

There weren't many chances for either side as New Zealand did a good job in frustrating Brazil. However, Cristiane's volley in the 86th minute rescued a 1-0 win for the South Americans, who remain on top of Group E along with Great Britain, which topped Cameroon, 3-0 on Saturday behind goals from Casey Stoney, Jill Scott and Stephanie Houghton.

Those results mean that both Brazil and Great Britain have reached the quarterfinals and the two sides will face each other on July 31 to determine the winner of Group E.

USA clinches quarterfinal berth in women's soccer Glasgow, Scotland (Sports Network) - The United States booked a place in the quarterfinals of the women's soccer competition on Saturday by dispatching Colombia, 3-0, in Group G play.

The Americans have claimed six points from their first two matches after a 4-2 triumph against France on the opening day of the tournament, while Colombia has lost its first two contests without scoring a goal.

Megan Rapinoe opened the scoring for the U.S. in the 33rd minute before the Americans turned up the pressure in the second half with goals from Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd.

"I didn't quite see all the things I wanted to see after the first game," said United States head coach Pia Sundhage. "In the first half the speed of play could have been better, but although it wasn't the best game, we scored three goals and got three points so that is the most important thing."

The opening goal came after a tight first 30 minutes and it loosened up the game a bit after Rapinoe beat goalkeeper Sandra Sepulveda with a well-placed chip from 20 yards that just managed to slip under the crossbar.

Rapinoe nearly doubled the lead before halftime when she redirected a ball on target that was cleared off the goal line by a Colombia defender.

But the second 45 minutes belonged to the U.S. with Tobin Heath setting up a first-time finish for Wambach from inside the penalty area with a pinpoint pass.

Wambach struck the crossbar a few minutes later as the Americans continued to pressure the Colombia defense, and it paid off shortly after that as Rapinoe laid off a pass to Lloyd, who burst through the middle of the back line to slot a shot inside the left post.

"Lloyd's goal was a beautiful move and Megan played a big part in that. She makes good decisions and the way she is playing she is having a huge impact," Sundhage said of Rapinoe. She has had two good games."

The U.S. will face North Korea in its final game of group play before moving on to the knockout round, while Colombia finishes up its tournament against France.

The French bounced back from their defeat against the Americans in a big way on Saturday, handing North Korea a 5-0 defeat that puts France in position to secure a place in the knockout round with a win over Colombia.

Canada put itself in position to advance beyond the group stage after Christine Sinclair scored a pair of second-half goals in a 3-0 win over South Africa in Group F play on Saturday.

Following a 2-1 defeat against Japan on the opening day, Canada needed to take three points from its game against South Africa, and the Canadians got off to a great start when Melissa Tancredi put them in front after seven minutes.

Canada was in control for much of the game but it wasn't until Sinclair's goal in the 58th minute that the result was secure.

"On some days there's just no stopping Christine," said Canada coach John Herdman. "But the fact that Melissa scores as well takes some of the weight off Christine's shoulders. It shows that there's more to us than just Christine. We depended on her for too long."

The Canadian captain then added another tally in the last five minutes to seal the win, which puts the team one point behind both Sweden and Japan in Group F after those two sides played to a 0-0 draw on Saturday.

Canada will face Sweden on July 31 with a chance to clinch a place in the next round with a win.

Brazil coasted to a 5-0 victory against Cameroon in its opening match, but found things to be much more difficult against New Zealand on Saturday.

There weren't many chances for either side as New Zealand did a good job in frustrating Brazil. However, Cristiane's volley in the 86th minute rescued a 1-0 win for the South Americans, who remain on top of Group E along with Great Britain, which topped Cameroon, 3-0 on Saturday behind goals from Casey Stoney, Jill Scott and Stephanie Houghton.

Those results mean that both Brazil and Great Britain have reached the quarterfinals and the two sides will face each other on July 31 to determine the winner of Group E.

MAY-TREANOR/WALSH WIN IN BEACH VOLLEYBALL

London, England (Sports Network) - Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States began their gold medal defense in women's beach volleyball with a win on the first day of group play at the London Olympics.

May-Treanor and Walsh, who have won gold at the last two Summer Games, posted a straight-sets victory over the Australian duo of Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley. The Americans won the opening set, 21-18, and took the second by a 21-19 score.

The Chinese team of Zhang Xi and Xue Chen, who won bronze in Beijing, were handed an upset in their opening match of the tournament, losing in three sets to the Russian duo of Anastasia Vasina and Anna Vozakova.

On the men's side, the U.S. team of Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal posted an easy two-set victory over South Africans Freedom Chiya and Grant Goldschmidt.

Group play continues for both men and women on Sunday at Horse Guards Parade.

U.S. WOMEN WIN VOLLEYBALL OPENER

London, England (Sports Network) - The United States kicked off the women's volleyball tournament by beating South Korea, while defending gold medalist Brazil barely defeated Turkey in another preliminary round match.

The U.S., which lost to Brazil in the gold medal game four years ago in Beijing, downed the Koreans in four sets. Meanwhile, Brazil needed five sets to down Turkey in its opening match, taking the final stanza by a 15-12 score.

Both the U.S. and Brazil are in Group B at the London Games and will face each other on Sunday when women's preliminary round action continues.

Hugh McCutcheon is coaching the U.S. women after leading the men to a gold medal four years ago in Beijing where his father-in-law, Todd Bachman, was stabbed to death at a city landmark early in the competition.

China beat Serbia in the other Group B game, while Japan, Italy and Russia all won games in Group A. Japan and Russia posted straight-set victories over Algeria and Great Britain, respectively, but the Italians needed four sets to dispose of Dominican Republic.

TABLE TENNIS VET PERSSON ADVANCES IN 7TH OLYMPIC GAMES

London, England (Sports Network) - Swede Jorgen Persson won his men's singles table tennis match on Saturday as he searches for his first Olympic medal.

Persson has participated in every Olympic table tennis competition since the sport was introduced at the 1988 Seoul Games. He has never finished higher than fourth, but the 46-year-old is into the second round.

Great Britain's Paul Drinkhall also moved on after a victory.

The U.S. saw its participant pool cut in half on the women's side. Ariel Hsing advanced on Saturday, but 16-year-old Lily Zhang, the youngest table tennis player at the 2012 Games, was knocked out of the first round.

The hosts also have a woman into the second round in Joanna Parker.

The women's side also featured a few second-round matchups on Saturday, with eight players moving on.

AMERICAN BANTAMWEIGHT DIAZ WINS FIRST BOUT

London, England (Sports Network) - United States bantamweight boxer Joseph Diaz Jr. won his opening bout Saturday at the London Olympics.

The 19-year-old Diaz, competing in the 56-kilogram weight class, earned a 19-9 victory in his match against the Ukraine's Pavlo Ishchenko. It was the first match of the Olympic boxing competition.

Diaz was leading Ishchenko by a 9-6 margin after two rounds, then clinched his victory by outpointing his opponent by a 10-3 score in the third and final round.

The two-time reigning U.S. champion at bantamweight, Diaz moved on to the round of 16. He will next fight Wednesday against Cuban Lazaro Alvarez Estrada, who is one of the favorites to win gold. Alvarez is the world No. 2 and received a bye in the competition.

Tajikistan's Anvar Yunusov, the world No. 1, Great Britain's Luke Campbell and Azerbaijan's Magomed Abdulhamidov also got byes into the second round.

The first round of the men's 75kg (middleweight) competition also took place Saturday, and Great Britain's Anthony Ogogo was a 13-6 winner against Junior Castillo Martinez of the Dominican Republic.

Ogogo's next opponent will be a tough one -- top-seeded Ievgen Khytrov of the Ukraine. Khytrov won the world championship in 2011.

He, along with Japan's Ryota Murata, Romanian Bogdan Juratoni and Brazilian Esquiva Florentino, received byes into the second round.

Among other middleweight bouts, two-time world titlist Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan moved on, as did 2008 bronze medalist Vijender Singh and American Terrell Gausha.

NEW ZEALAND DUO SETS WR IN MEN'S PAIR

London, England (Sports Network) - New Zealand rowers Eric Murray and Hamish Bond posted a world record time Saturday in men's pair.

Murray and Bond haven't lost at a world cup or world championships since becoming a team in 2009 and won the first heat with a time of 6 minutes, 8.50 seconds. That was nearly six seconds better than the previous world mark, held by the Great Britain duo of Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell that was set at the 2002 World Championships in Spain.

"There's one thing saying you're really well prepared and there's another to go and show you're prepared, but this has given us a real confidence boost," noted Murray.

France and Poland finished behind New Zealand in the first heat to advance to the semifinals, while Canada's David Calder and Scott Frandsen won the second heat. Those two figure to be Murray and Bond's biggest obstacle for London gold.

The final race was won by Great Britain's George Nash and William Satch, while the United States finished fourth in the second heat to move to the repechage.

The U.S. did see some advancement on the day, including qualifying boats in the women's pair and the men's eight, which saw Germany continue its domination of the event.

The German eight figure to be the team to beat in this event, having won each world cup race they have entered over the last three years. They had the best time of any group, finishing the second heat in 5:25.52.

The American's time of 5:30.72 was enough to edge past Australia in Heat 1, while Canada finished last in the latter heat. Only the winners of each heat moved on.

The United States was one of four teams to advance to the finals in the women's pair, along with medal favorites Great Britain and New Zealand.

The U.S. team of Sara Hendershot and Sarah Zelenka finished two seconds behind the host duo of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning in the first heat, while New Zealand came across just over five seconds behind New Zealand, which also advanced, in the second race.

Glover and Stanning set a new Olympic record with a time of 6:57.29, besting the previous mark of 7:01.39 that was set by the Australian duo of Megan Leanne Still and Kate Elizabeth Slatter at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Romania's Georgeta Andrunache and Viorica Susanu finished third in the first heat, moving the 2004 and 2008 gold medal-winning duo into the repechage, which is set for Monday.

In the tightest race of the day, Germany edged out two boats to win its respective heat in the men's double sculls, while defending gold medal champion Australia failed to advance.

In the event's first heat, Germany grabbed first place by just 0.04 seconds over Lithuania and Slovenia, who finished in a dead heat. All three countries advanced to the semifinals.

"Wow, that's close," said German rower Eric Knittel. "I mean, I'm not surprised, there's always just one second between a lot of crews."

Australia's duo of David Crawshay and Scott Brennan, which took home gold in Beijing, finished behind Lithuania and Slovenia and must now turn its attention to the repechage.

Also advancing were favorites New Zealand, which saw its team of Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan set a new Olympic mark of 6:11.30, just edging out the previous record of 6:11.49 set by Italy in 2004.

Belgium's Tim Maeyens established himself as an early favorite in the men's single sculls, setting an Olympic record of 6:42.52 to advance to the quarterfinals.

Maeyens, who finished fourth at the Beijing Olympics in this event, topped Xeno Muller's time of 6:44.85. The Swiss set that mark during the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

All three medal winners from Beijing also advanced: Norway's Olaf Tufte (gold), Czech Ondrej Synek (silver) and New Zealand's Mahe Drysdale (bronze).

American Kenneth Jurkowski was also one of the 18 rowers to advance as was Great Britain's Alan Campbell.

Veteran rower Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus kicked off her quest for a sixth Olympic medal with a heat victory in the women's single sculls on Saturday.

Fighting off a rib injury, the 40-year-old Karsten finished her heat with a time of 7:30.31. She is looking to add to her total that already includes two gold medals in addition to a silver.

Many of Karsten's top competitors also advanced to the 20-woman quarterfinal. They included New Zealand's Emma Twigg, Czech Miroslava Knapkova and China's Zhang Xiuyun.

American Genevra Stone also moved on, as did Australia's Kim Crow.

It went as expected in the women's quadruple sculls, with favorites Germany and Ukraine winning their respective heats to advance to the final.

Those two countries are expected to battle for the gold after the Ukraine won all three world cups, while the Germans recorded the world's best time at Lucerne in the heats.

The U.S. finished just behind Germany in the first heat.

Great Britain captured a silver medal in this event at the 2008 Games, but finished a disappointing fourth in the second heat.

Croatia and Germany could be on another collision course in men's quadruple sculls after winning their respective heats on Saturday.

Croatia is heavily favored after winning all three world cups this year, but the Germans came in second in all three races and were never more than three seconds behind. Croatia advanced to the semifinals with a time of 5:39.08 in Heat 2, while Germany claimed the third heat by crossing the line at 5:39.69.

Denmark was one of nine teams to advance in the men's four lightweight, no surprise given its history in the young event.

Winners of three of the four gold medals since the event's inception in 1996, Denmark finished third in the first heat, behind winners Switzerland and second-place South Africa to advance to the semifinals.

Advancing out of the second heat were Great Britain, Australia and Germany, while France, Netherlands and China round out the semis from the third heat.

The U.S. finished last of the five boats in the event's first heat.

FRANCE DOWNS NORWAY, GB LOSES WOMEN'S HANDBALL DEBUT

London, England (Sports Network) - Norway's defense of its 2008 gold medal got off to a losing start on Saturday thanks to a 24-23 defeat to France at the Copper Box.

In a rematch of the 2011 World Championship final, won by Norway, France got some revenge thanks to five goals from both Paule Baudouin and Mariama Signate.

Ida Alstad paced Norway with five goals.

In a matchup between nations making their Olympic debut in this sport, Great Britain got six goals from Marie Gerbron but was still handed a 31-19 defeat by Montenegro. The Balkan team was led by five goals from Katarina Bulatovic.

In other action, 2008 silver medalist Russia took a 30-27 victory over Angola, which nearly pulled off an upset before faltering late.

Korea, which picked up its women's teams-leading sixth medal four years ago in Beijing with a bronze, downed Spain 31-27 behind nine goals by Ryu Eun Hee. The squad did suffer some bad news when Kim On A collided with a Spanish defender and had to be carried off the court on a stretcher due to a left knee injury.

Croatia nearly picked up a victory in its Olympic Games debut, but dropped a heartbreaker to Brazil 24-23, while three-time Olympic champion Denmark bested Sweden 21-18.

TABLE TENNIS VET PERSSON ADVANCES IN 7TH OLYMPIC GAMES

London, England (Sports Network) - Swede Jorgen Persson won his men's singles table tennis match on Saturday as he searches for his first Olympic medal.

Persson has participated in every Olympic table tennis competition since the sport was introduced at the 1988 Seoul Games. He has never finished higher than fourth, but the 46-year-old is into the second round.

Great Britain's Paul Drinkhall also moved on after a victory.

The U.S. saw its participant pool cut in half on the women's side. Ariel Hsing advanced on Saturday, but 16-year-old Lily Zhang, the youngest table tennis player at the 2012 Games, was knocked out of the first round.

The hosts also have a woman into the second round in Joanna Parker.

The women's side also featured a few second-round matchups on Saturday, with eight players moving on.

GERMANS 1-2 IN EVENTING AFTER DAY 1; AUSTRALIA TOP TEAM

London, England (Sports Network) - Germans Ingrid Klimke and Dirk Schrade sit atop the individual standings after the first day of eventing competition at the London Olympics, but Australia is currently the top team.

Australia had three of the top 10 performances in dressage, and is atop the team standings with 133.20 points. Defending gold medalist Germany is second with 137.60, while the United States is third with 150.90.

Team scores are a bit distorted because not every team had three riders compete Saturday. Every country has five riders, and the best three scores are used to make up the team score.

Klimke (39.30) and Schrade (39.80) had the best two individual scores on day 1 of dressage, but the third German rider to compete Saturday, Peter Thomsen, struggled to a 58.50.

Australians Andrew Hoy (41.70), Sam Griffiths (45.40) and Christopher Burton (46.10) are all placed in the top-10, and that made the difference in the team standings.

Great Britain's Mary King is third overall (40.90), but only two British riders completed the dressage Saturday. One who will compete Sunday is Zara Phillips, daughter of Princess Anne and granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II.

Karen O'Connor is the best-placed U.S. rider, in ninth.

Eventing, sometimes referred to as the "three-day event," combines dressage, cross-country and jumping. The individual and team competition run concurrently and medals are awarded for both.

Two days, Saturday and Sunday, feature dressage competition. Monday is cross- country, and the two-round jumping finale is Tuesday.

ALBANIAN WEIGHTLIFTER BANNED FOR DOPING

London, England (Sports Network) - Albanian weightlifter Hysen Pulaku tested positive for a banned steroid, forcing him to withdraw from the London Olympics.

Pulaku tested positive for stanozolol on July 23, and already had been dropped from the Albanian Olympic team before the results were announced.

The 19-year-old was scheduled to compete in the men's 77-kilogram weight class.