Olympic Daily News - Saturday, August 4

Published August 04, 2012

| Sports Network

It was a familiar scene, Michael Phelps atop an Olympic medal podium, gold medal hanging from his neck.

No one has ever done it more. Maybe no one ever will. And if what Phelps says is true, it's the last time we'll see him in that position.

"It's wild. Twenty years. I couldn't ask to finish on a better note. I've done everything I've ever wanted to do and I'm very happy," Phelps said, struggling to sum up his career in a late-night press conference after winning what he says will be his last race.

"I don't think everything has really struck me yet about what's happened," he said. "I'm sure over the next few days things will really start to set in."

Phelps retired on top, the most decorated Olympian in every way possible after swimming the butterfly leg for the heavily-favored American 400-meter medley relay team Saturday night.

He won his 18th gold and 22nd Olympic medal overall in his final competitive swim, extending both records.

Phelps actually stood atop the medal podium twice -- once during the medal ceremony with teammates Matthew Grevers, Brendan Hansen and Nathan Adrian, when he fought back tears during "The Star-Spangled Banner" -- and again when he stopped back for one last time, holding a silver trophy given to him by FINA to celebrate his accomplishments.

The Aquatics Centre was packed on the last night of swimming here, and many stuck around to bid Phelps farewell.

The U.S. relay teammates held up a white banner with the words: "THANK YOU LONDON." Someone near the top of the arena screamed, "We love you, Michael!" And as one of the greatest days in British Olympic history unfolded next door during track and field, some folks decked out in the Union Jack tried to get a "Michael! Michael! Michael!" chant going.

Phelps lingered, taking a victory lap, stalking around the pool to show the trophy to spectators and photographers. He joked with an Olympic volunteer as they walked between the swimming and diving pools. They both smiled.

This was some farewell.

"What he did for the sport will remain forever," said Hansen.

The records should stand for a while, at least, until some other young gun comes along with a bag full of strokes and a body built for swimming the way Phelps' was. Perhaps that swimmer's already arrived -- Missy Franklin, maybe -- but the present belongs to Phelps.

He won six medals in seven races here -- his only loss came Day 1 -- including another four golds and his first two silvers. It was two fewer medals than he captured in each of the last two games, and half as many golds as his record haul in Beijing four years ago.

Phelps shared the spotlight with Ryan Lochte entering London and left with the light all to himself.

His final race wasn't quite a laugher, but there was never really any doubt about the outcome with medalists from all four strokes swimming on the U.S. team.

Grevers, the 100 backstroke champ, gave the Americans a lead after 100 meters. They trailed Japan after Hansen's breaststroke leg but Phelps had them back on top by .26 seconds after 300 meters and 100 freestyle champion Adrian locked it down with a fast split, touching the U.S. team in 3 minutes, 29.35 seconds -- 1.91 ticks ahead of Japan.

"I'm nothing compared to Michael," said Japanese breaststroke legend Kosuke Kitajima, who swam in the relay. "It was a wonderful experience for me that we were able to swim together in that last relay."

The U.S. swept the medley relays on the last night of swimming.

Earlier, Franklin became the first American female to swim in seven Olympic events when she led off in a record-setting win by the U.S. in the women's 400 medley team.

Franklin, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer and Allison Schmitt swam the race in 3:52.05 to take .14 seconds off China's old world record from 2009. Australia ended 1.97 seconds back in second place and Japan was third.

Franklin, 17, swam the leadoff backstroke laps and won her fifth medal in London, including four golds to cement her place as the new young star in U.S. swimming.

Phelps leaves U.S. swimming in the hands of the likes of Franklin and 15-year- old Katie Ledecky, the 800 free champion.

Yes, he swears he's done. Don't expect him to pull a Brett Favre, coming back for another chance only to retire again. Only to come back, only to retire, and on and on.

Phelps, just 27, has always said he doesn't want to still be swimming by the time he's 30. And he knows if he swims one, two, three more years, it will mean swimming four more years. It will mean another Olympics.

He'd like to travel, please, to see other parts of cities around the world besides their hotels and pools. He's seen so many interesting places, but never really SEEN them, if you know what he means.

There's a chance his first stop will be South Africa, where he says he wants to cage dive with sharks. Chad le Clos, the 20-year-old South African who beat his hero in the men's 200 fly here, may have talked him into that one.

"I've been very fortunate to look back over my career and say I've been able to accomplish every goal that I've ever wanted to. And I think at that point in your career, it's just time to move on," said Phelps.

"There are other things that I want to do in my life and I'm not sure staring at a black line for four hours a day is one of those."

U.S. SETS WR IN WOMEN'S MEDLEY RELAY

London, England (Sports Network) - Missy Franklin became the first American female to swim in seven Olympic events, leading off in a record-setting win by the U.S. in the women's 400-meter medley relay Saturday night.

Franklin, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer and Allison Schmitt swam the race in 3 minutes, 52.05 seconds to take .14 seconds off China's old world record from 2009.

Franklin, 17, swam the leadoff backstroke laps and won her fifth medal in London, including four golds to cement her place as the new young star in U.S. swimming.

The U.S. swimmers in the relay combined to win 16 medals here, some of them overlapping.

"I honestly couldn't think of a better way to end it, that was so perfect in every way," Franklin said. "It was the most fun relay I've ever been on. ... Every single team in the ready room tonight was laughing and joking."

Australia ended 1.97 seconds back in second place and Japan was third.

SUN BREAKS OWN WR TO WIN 1,500 FREE

London, England (Sports Network) - China's Sun Yang smashed his own world record to win the men's 1,500-meter freestyle Saturday night for his second gold medal of the London Olympics.

Sun finished the grueling race in 14 minutes, 31.02 seconds to take 3.12 ticks off the mark he set in July 2011.

Canada's Ryan Cochrane was second, 8.61 seconds back with a North American record, and Tunisia's Oussama Mellouli ended third.

American Connor Jaeger was sixth.

Sun jumped early but was not disqualified. He smashed the water with his fists in celebration when the race was over, then cried. He also won the 400 free here last Saturday and finished with four medals at the London Games.

100 CHAMP KROMOWIDJOJO ADDS 50 FREE WIN

London, England (Sports Network) - Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands, already the 100-meter champion, won the 50-meter freestyle Saturday night in Olympic-record time.

Kromowidjojo swam the length of the Aquatics Centre pool in 24.05 seconds -- taking .01 seconds off German Britta Steffen's record from Beijing in 2008.

She touched .23 seconds ahead of Aliaksandra Herasimenia of Belarus while fellow Dutchwoman Marleen Veldhuis earned the bronze .34 seconds back.

Steffen was fourth and American Jessica Hardy finished seventh.

Kromowidjojo also set the Olympic record in the 100 free on Thursday night. Herasimenia was the silver medalist.

JAMAICA'S FRASER-PRYCE WINS 100 AGAIN ON BIG NIGHT FOR BRITS

London, England (Sports Network) - Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won her second straight gold medal in the women's 100-meters Saturday at the London Games, but the host nation of Great Britain wound up stealing the spotlight with three gold medals.

Jessica Ennis was expected to win heptathlon gold for the host nation after building a big lead heading into Saturday evening's final discipline, but Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford's Olympic titles on the men's side were nothing short of shocking.

Farah, a Somalian-born and British-raised distance runner, became the first non-African to win the men's 10,000 meters since Italy's Albert Cova claimed gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Farah was also the first British man to win the event.

Not to be outdone, Rutherford became the second man from Great Britain to win gold in the long jump and the first in 48 years. Lynn Davies won the other gold at the 1964 Tokyo Games.

Including three additional golds won Saturday in track cycling and rowing, Great Britain had its most successful day at the Olympics in over 100 years. The last time the nation won six gold medals on a single day was at the 1908 Summer Games, which also happened to be held in London.

"People say there's pressure being in a home Olympics, but I don't think there's pressure," said Farah. "They (the crowd) give you that lift, that buzz."

Meanwhile, the United States picked up two silvers and a bronze on the night, with Carmelita Jeter finishing just .03 seconds behind Fraser-Pryce in her first Olympic race. Galen Rupp also claimed silver behind Farah in the 10,000, becoming the first American man to medal at that distance since Billy Mills in 1964.

Will Claye added the bronze for the U.S. in the long jump.

The women's 100 was billed as a battle between American and Jamaican sprinters and it did not disappoint. In the end, Fraser-Pryce retained the title of "World's Fastest Woman" with a sprint of 10.75 seconds, while Jeter, last year's world champion, was just a step behind.

"It was a tough race, I gave it my all. I got a medal at the Olympics," said Jeter.

The next three finishers were also Jamaican or American with Veronica Campbell-Brown joining her countrywoman Fraser-Pryce on the podium. Americans Tianna Madison and Allyson Felix finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Fraser-Pryce is the only Jamaican woman to have ever won the 100 and she is the third from any nation to win the event twice, joining Americans Wyomia Tyus and Gail Devers. Meanwhile Campbell-Browm, a six-time Olympic medalist and two-time defending champion in the 200m, won her second bronze in the 100. She also finished third eight years ago in Athens.

The Jamaicans swept the 100 in Beijing, with Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart taking silver and bronze, respectively, behind Fraser-Pryce.

Felix has been the runner-up to Campbell-Brown in the 200 at the last two Olympics and the rivals are also expected to compete for gold in that event here in London.

While the 100 is always thrilling, the most shocking result of the night had to be the 10,000 meters, an event that quite simply has been owned by African nations in recent years. With Farah winning gold and Rupp placing second it marked the first time runners from African nations didn't occupy all three spots on the podium in the 10,000 since 1988.

The race stayed together for most of the 10,000 meters, but with a few laps to go Farah moved to the front. He began his kick with a little more than a lap remaining and held on for the victory, while Rupp surged for second. Farah completed the race in 27 minutes, 30.42 seconds and Rupp crossed the finish line .48 seconds later.

"These don't come around often. It's the best moment of my life, Farah said.

Adding to the incredible result is the fact that Farah and Rupp, both of whom are based in Oregon, are training partners. The friends embraced soon after crossing the finish line.

"I'm thrilled for Mo," Rupp said. "It's unreal. Two training partners coming in first and second, I couldn't be happier. I wouldn't be where I am today without him."

The history made by Farah and Rupp prevented Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele from becoming the first man to win the 10,000 three times. He entered London as the two-time defending champion, but finished fourth while his brother Tariku Bekele won bronze.

Rutherford added to the British theme by winning the long jump with a leap of 8.31 meters, beating Australia's Mitchell Watt by .15 meters. Claye took bronze with a jump of 8.12 meters.

Marquise Goodwin of the U.S. finished 10th.

Before Farah and Rutherford won their events, Ennis officially claimed gold for Britain in the heptathlon on Saturday, completing her dominating performance with a first-place finish in the 800 meters.

She held a 188-point lead over Austra Skujyte of Lithuania heading into the final race and left little doubt by taking the early lead in the 800 before gutting it out for the win. Ennis finished the race in 2:08.65 seconds, and just before crossing the finish line she raised her arms in celebration of the overall win.

"The crowd helped me and I can't believe I've done it," said Ennis.

Ennis' final point total of 6,955 is the third-highest in Olympic history, trailing Jackie Joyner-Kersee's marks from the 1988 and 1992 Summer Games. Tatyana Chernova of Russia was 327 points behind Ennis for silver, while Lyudmyla Yosypenko won bronze with 6,618 points.

Meanwhile, Skujyte, the silver medalist in this event eight years ago in Athens, finished eighth in the 800, nearly 22 seconds slower than Ennis. She wound up placing fourth in the overall competition.

American Hyleas Fountain, silver medalist in Beijing, was in 27th place after six events and was a DNF after failing to participate in the 800.

Gold was also awarded in women's discus to Sandra Perkovic of Croatia in the women's discus, with Perkovic beating Russia's Darya Pishchalnikova with a throw of 69.11 meters. Li Yanfeng won bronze with a toss of 67.22 meters, claiming China's first Olympic discus medal.

Stephanie Brown Trafton of the United States finished in eighth place. She won a surprise gold in Beijing, becoming the first American woman to win the event since 1932.

Semifinals for the men's 400m hurdles were also held and all three American runners -- Angelo Taylor, Kerron Clement and Michael Tinsley -- qualified for Monday's final.

Also on Saturday night, American women DeeDee Trotter, Sanya Richards-Ross and Francena McCorory earned spots in the 400m final, which will take place tomorrow night.

FARAH WINS MEN'S 10,000M, RUPP TAKES SILVER FOR U.S.

London, England (Sports Network) - Mo Farah of Great Britain won the men's 10,000-meters Saturday at the London Games, shocking two-time defending gold medalist Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia.

Farah, the European record holder, finished the race in 27 minutes, 30.42 seconds. Galen Rupp, the U.S. Olympic trials champion, crossed the finish line .48 seconds later.

The race stayed together for most of the 10,000 meters, but with a few laps to go Farah moved to the front. He began his kick with a little more than a lap remaining and held on for the victory, while Rupp surged for second.

Farah became the first British man to win the event, while Rupp is the fisrt American to medal in the men's 10,000 since Billy Mills won in 1964.

Ethiopia's Tariku Bekele was third with a time of 27:31.43, while his brother Kenenisa Bekele, winner of the last two gold medals, finished fourth. Kenenisa Bekele was trying to become the first man to win three gold medals in the 10,000m.

REIGNING 400 CHAMP MERRITT DOESN'T FINISH HEAT

London, England (Sports Network) - American runner LaShawn Merritt's quest to defend his 400-meter Olympic title ended Saturday after he failed to finish his first race in qualifying.

Merritt was running in the sixth of seven heats at Olympic Stadium when a hamstring injury forced him to pull up midway through the race.

The 26-year-old Merritt also helped the United States win a 1,600-meter relay gold in Beijing, but now it seems unlikely he'll be able to compete in that race in London. The relay is scheduled for Friday.

"I have some more time before the relay," said Merritt. "If I still feel it (the injury to his left hamstring), I will let someone else run."

Merritt had been cleared for the London Games despite failing three drug tests in 2010. After initially receiving a two-year ban that would have stopped him from competing, his suspension was lowered to 21 months. Merritt blamed the failed tests on the penis enlargement product, ExtenZe.

Belgium's Jonathan Borlee logged the fastest time in heats with a run of 44.43 seconds. Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nellum qualified for the semifinals for the U.S.

PISTORIUS ADVANCES TO 400 SEMIFINALS

London, England (Sports Network) - Double amputee Oscar Pistorius of South Africa became the first man to compete in both the Summer and Paralympic Games on Saturday, qualifying for the semifinals of the 400 meters.

Pistorius, who had both his legs amputated halfway between the knees and ankles at 11 months old, ran in the first of seven heats at Olympic Stadium. He finished second in the heat with a season-best time of 45.44 seconds.

The 25-year-old posted the 16th-best split of Saturday's heats. Belgium's Jonathan Borlee logged the fastest time at 44.43 seconds.

"I didn't know whether to cry," Pistorius said. "I had a mixture of emotions. It was the most amazing experience, the crowd was amazing."

Nicknamed the "Fastest Man on No Legs," Pistorius runs with the help of carbon fiber artificial limbs.

In January of 2008, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruled Pistorius ineligible for competitions after concluding that his artificial legs gave him a competitive advantage. However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned the IAAF's decision late that year.

Although Pistorius was eligible to run at the 2008 Beijing Games he was unable to qualify for South Africa. After setting numerous records at the 2008 Paralympics, Pistorius qualified for the London Games on July 4, 2012.

Five women athletes have previously competed at both the Summer and Paralympic Games, including Pistorius' compatriot Natalie du Toit, who had her left leg amputated at the knee, but competed in marathon swimming four years ago in Beijing.

MERRITT OUT OF 400; FAVORITES ADVANCE IN 100

London, England (Sports Network) - A new men's 400-meter Olympic champion will be crowned at the London Games, after LaShawn Merritt of the United States pulled up lame in Saturday's heats for the event.

The favorites in the men's 100-meters did not have the same problem, as Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake qualified for Sunday's semifinals, as did Tyson Gay, Justin Gatlin and Ryan Bailey of the U.S.

Bolt, of course, captured the world's attention with his gold medal run in the 100 at the 2008 Beijing Games. He also won the 200m and helped Jamaica take gold in the 400m relay.

While everything went according to plan in the men's 100 heats in the day session at Olympic Stadium, there was no shortage of action in heats for the men's 400 on Saturday morning. In addition to Merritt's injury, double amputee Oscar Pistorius also moved onto the semifinals.

Merritt failed to finish his first race in qualifying when a left hamstring injury forced him to pull up midway through. The 26-year-old Merritt also helped the United States win a 1,600-meter relay gold in Beijing, but his status for that race here in London is now in question. The relay is scheduled for Friday.

"I have some more time before the relay," said Merritt. "If I still feel it (the injury to his left hamstring), I will let someone else run."

Meanwhile, South Africa's Pistorius became the first man to compete in both the Summer and Paralympic Games and he qualified for the semifinals.

Pistorius, who had both his legs amputated halfway between the knees and ankles at 11 months old, ran in the first of seven heats at Olympic Stadium. Nicknamed the "Fastest Man on No Legs," Pistorius runs with the help of carbon fiber artificial limbs.

The 25-year-old finished second in the heat with a season-best time of 45.44 seconds. Pistorius posted the 16th-best split of Saturday's heats.

"I didn't know whether to cry," Pistorius said. "I had a mixture of emotions. It was the most amazing experience, the crowd was amazing."

Belgium's Jonathan Borlee logged the fastest time in heats with a run of 44.43 seconds. Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nellum qualified for the semifinals for the U.S.

While Bolt coasted to a win in the fourth of seven heats Saturday, his time of 10.09 seconds tied Canada's Justyn Warner for ninth-fastest. Blake, who beat Bolt at the Jamaican Olympic trials, ran the race in 10.00 seconds flat to finish with the third-fastest time.

"I expected it, I'm running well," said Bolt of his comfortable sprint.

Bailey posted the best time with a run of 9.88 seconds and Gatlin, the gold medalist eight years ago in Athens, was next, .09 seconds behind. Gatlin is back at the Olympics after missing Beijing due to a four-year doping ban.

Gay finished eighth at 10.08 seconds.

Six of the seven events in the heptathlon have been contested and Jessica Ennis of Great Britain is still in the lead.

Ennis has been in first place after five of the six disciplines and, with 5,971 points, is 188 ahead of Austra Skujyte of Lithuania.

Ennis could become the first British athlete to win the heptathlon since Denise Lewis claimed gold at the 2000 Sydney Games. The champion will be determined tonight after the running of the final event, the 800-meter race.

American Hyleas Fountain, silver medalist in the heptathlon in Beijing, is currently ranked 27th. Sharon Day of the U.S. is 17th, while Canada's Jessica Zelinka is sitting in eighth place.

Defending heptathlon champion Natallia Dobrynska is out of the competition. The Ukrainian had a poor showing in this morning's long jump and chose not to compete in the heptahlon's sixth event -- the javelin.

In qualifications for the women's pole vault on Saturday, Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva, the two-time defending gold medalist, cleared 4.55 meters to move on in the competition. Americans Jennifer Suhr and Becky Holliday also qualified for Monday's final round.

RUTHERFORD WINS RARE LONG JUMP GOLD FOR GREAT BRITAIN

London, England (Sports Network) - Greg Rutherford became the first man from Great Britain to win gold in the long jump in 48 years, taking the competition at the London Games with a jump of 8.31 meters.

Rutherford posted the winning distance in his fourth of six jumps and beat Australia's Mitchell Watt by .15 meters. Will Claye of the United States took bronze with a leap of 8.12 meters.

The last man from Great Britain to win the long jump was Lynn Davies, who grabbed gold at the 1964 Tokyo Games.

Marquise Goodwin of the U.S. finished 10th.

CROATIA'S PERKOVIC WINS DISCUS GOLD

London, England (Sports Network) - Sandra Perkovic of Croatia won gold in the women's discus Saturday at the London Games, beating Russia's Darya Pishchalnikova.

Perkovic had a winning throw of 69.11 meters -- a Croatian national record -- to beat Pishchalnikova by 1.55 meters. Li Yanfeng won bronze with a toss of 67.22 meters, claiming China's first Olympic discus medal.

Both Perkovic and Pishchalnikova have served doping suspensions in the past. The Croatian served a six-month ban in 2011 and Pishchalnikova missed the 2008 Beijing Games becase of a two-year suspension.

Stephanie Brown Trafton of the United States finished in eighth place. She won a surprise gold in Beijing, becoming the first American woman to win the event since 1932.

U.S. MEN ESCAPE WITH NARROW WIN OVER LITHUANIA

London, England (Sports Network) - Lithuania figured to be a tougher matchup for the U.S. men's basketball team than Nigeria, but not this difficult.

After a record-setting performance in an 83-point victory on Thursday, the U.S. trailed in the fourth quarter on Saturday but a late run kept the Americans unbeaten in the Olympic tournament with a 99-94 victory.

LeBron James scored 20 points and keyed a 15-4 run that turned an 84-82 deficit with just under six minutes remaining into a 97-88 lead. Carmelo Anthony added 20 points for the Americans, while Kevin Durant chipped in 16.

"We had to make some big plays to win," said Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "We beat an outstanding team today and had a lot of game pressure on us and we came through and I am proud of them for doing that."

The U.S., on the heels of its 156-73 win over Nigeria, improved to 4-0 in Group A and will close the preliminary round on Monday against Argentina.

Linas Kleiza scored 25 points for Lithuania, which fell to 1-3 and will try to gain a spot in the quarterfinals on Monday against winless Tunisia.

The Lithuanians shot a staggering 58.5 percent on Saturday, including 7-of-16 from three-point territory, but were undone by 23 turnovers. The U.S., aided by 17 steals, scored 26 points off the Lithuania miscues and committed just nine turnovers.

"The game itself is incredibly important for us," Krzyzewski noted. "Not only did we win, but we were put in a position where every possession counted. We are not usually in that type of game. We are going to be in those games if we want to win the gold medal."

After a 12-4 run to start the contest, the Americans just couldn't shake the hot-shooting Lithuanians. The U.S. held a 33-25 advantage after one, managed only a 55-51 margin at the break and led by only as much as six in the third quarter.

Kleiza's three-pointer three minutes into the fourth capped a 10-2 run to start the final period, giving Lithuania an 82-80 lead. After trading baskets, Chris Paul drilled a three to put the U.S. on top for good.

Deron Williams followed with a layup off the break to make it a three-point game, but Darius Songaila answered to draw Lithuania within one with 4:12 left.

James then got hot. He connected from long range, then flew in for a dunk off a Paul steal and an outlet from Williams to make it 92-86. After another Songaila bucket, Paul came up with a key offensive rebound on the next U.S. trip and Williams made it count by drilling a three before James added a driving layup for a nine-point margin with 2:10 remaining.

"He took the game over, I thought," Krzyzewski added. "For those people that say he doesn't produce at the end of ballgames, he always produces for us at the end of ballgames. He was terrific and really made the plays that needed to be made both offensively and defensively in the last three minutes."

Williams finished with 12 points for the U.S., while Paul contributed seven points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Songaila scored 11 in defeat and Martynas Pocius netted 14 with seven rebounds and six assists.

RUSSIA EDGES SPAIN TO REMAIN UNBEATEN IN MEN'S BASKETBALL

London, England (Sports Network) - Vitaliy Fridzon carried over the momentum from his winning shot on Thursday and scored 24 points Saturday to lead Russia to a 77-74 victory over Spain in a matchup of unbeatens in men's basketball.

Fridzon hit the winning three-pointer in a 75-74 triumph over Brazil on Thursday. On Saturday, he made 7-of-11 shots, including a pair from beyond the arc, and also drained a pair of free throws in the final seconds to keep Russia unbeaten after four games and atop the Group B standings.

Anton Ponkrashov contributed 14 points and 11 assists in the victory, while Timofey Mozgov chipped in 12 points and scored the go-ahead basket in the final minute. Andrei Kirilenko added eight points and eight rebounds for Russia, which will close its preliminary round on Monday against Australia.

Pau Gasol scored 20 points and Rudy Fernandez added 10 for Spain, which was also coming off a one-point win over Great Britain on Thursday an

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