Gold for Aussie women as Phelps and Rice beaten in London
The shocks continue at the London Olympics with the King and Queen of the Beijing pool dethroned.
Michael Phelps finished fourth in his 400 individual medley final, Stephanie Rice sixth in her final.
The writing was on the wall when American Phelps qualified in lane 8 by a mere seven-one hundredths of a second for the final, while Australian Rice qualified seventh fastest.
In the final, a sluggish Phelps stopped the clock at 4.09.28, well outside his world record 4.03.84, with compatriot Ryan Lochte taking gold with 4.05.18. Australian Thomas Fraser-Holmes finished seventh in 4.13.39.
Rice’s 4.35.49 was well outside her world record 4.29.45 which was broken by the 16-year-old from China Ye Shewin with 4.28.43.
On the Australian credit side, pay day for the 4×100 freestyle relay team with the first gold of the meet with a golden performance, setting an Olympic record 3.33.15 thanks to Alicia Coutts, Cate Campbell, Brittany Elmslie, and Melanie Slanger to beat the Netherlands and the defending champion USA.
Alicia Coutts qualified for tonight’s 100 fly final with the second fastest time behind American Dana Vollmer.
And both Brenton Rickard and Christian Sprenger qualified third and fourth fastest for tonight’s 100 breaststroke final.
Leaving cyclist Alexandr Vinokurov to grab the day one honours in London with Kazakhstan’s first ever Olympic gold medal in cycling, outfoxing Rigoberto Uran Uran to win Colombia’s first ever Olympic medal.
The road race finish reminded me of the 1954 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver when Australian John Landy was leading Roger Bannister on the final bend of the 1500m final. Landy looked over his left shoulder to see where Bannister was as the Englishman passed him on the right. By the time Landy looked ahead, Bannister had bolted to gold.
That’s exactly how Vinokurov won gold last night. In an identical “two-horse” race like Vancouver, Uran Uuran looked over his left shoulder, and the Kazak was gone on his right.
Cagey tactics by the 39-year-old, the oldest man in the race, who intends to retire at the end of the year. What a way to go with Olympic gold as his swansong.
Australia’s veteran 38-year-old Stuart O’Grady finished sixth in his record sixth Olympics for a cyclist, while England’s Mark Cavendish, favoured to win, ended up 29th, and well off the pace.
To magnify Australia’s shaky start, Samantha Stosur seeded 5, repeated her first round defeat at Wimbledon by bowing out of the Olympic tournament with a 3-6 7-5 10-8 defeat by Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, ranked 45 in the world.
So far in these Games, Michelle Obama has been my highlight – a standout. While her husband is back in the States trying to be re-elected President, the First Lady has swept all before her wherever she has appeared in London. A constant breath of fresh air with a beaming smile and happy to see anyone. And she’s seen plenty.
To the American team she said – “Try to have fun, try to breathe a little, and try to win, winning is good”.
Of England she said – “They are wonderful people, celebrating a Royal wedding last year, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee this year, and now hosting the Games”.
Damn shame she leaves tonight to wend her way home to a dog-eat-dog election. London will be the poorer for the First Lady’s departure.
- 2012 London Olympics