London 2012: Men’s 4x100m relay misfire in upset
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Magnussen's missle men misfire in men's 4x100m relay (CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP)
In the biggest boilover so far at the London Olympics, France pinched the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay from the Americans and the Russians, leaving pre-race favourites Australia languishing in fourth place.
Questions must be asked why the fastest sprinter on the planet James Magnussen led the Australians off instead of anchoring.
They were never in the hunt after Magnussen finished a close second at the first change to Matt Targett, then Eamon Sullivan, with James Roberts anchoring, the weakest link in the qualifier.
The breakdown – France 3.09.93, USA 3.10.38, Russia 3.11.41, and Australia 3.11.63.
A fantastic swim by the Frenchmen, the country’s first Olympic men’s 4×100 relay gold, just outside the world record.
It took a world record to deny Australian Christian Sprenger gold in the 100 breaststroke. South African Cameron van der Burgh grabbed gold with his 58.58, Sprenger silver with 58.93, American Brendan Hansen bronze with 59.49. Former world record holder, Australia’s Brenton Rickard, finished sixth with 59.87.
Australian butterflyer Alicia Coutts was a gold medal chance in the 100, but American Dana Vollmer had something to say about that, setting a new world record of 55.98 for gold, China’s Lu Ying silver in 56.89. with Coutts bronze at 56.94.
That was a courageous swim by Coutts, who reached the halfway stage in sixth place, but came home strongly to medal.
In semi-final action – Emily Seebohm was fastest qualifier for the 100 backstroke with 59.39, Belinda Hocking seventh fastest with 59.79.
Leisel Jones defied her critics by finishing fifth fastest with a time of 1.06.81 behind Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte’s 1.05.21.
Thomas Fraser-Holmes qualified eighth fastest for the final of the 200 freestyle. Kenrick Monk was 13th fastest.
And Hayden Stoeckel also qualified eighth fastest for the final of the 100 backstroke.
On the world stage, let’s keep an eye on China’s Sun Yang who could well create Olympic history by becoming the first to win gold in the 200, 400, and 1500 freestyle at the same meet. He’s a powerhouse who looks unbeatable, at all three distances.
There’s an equestrian sniff of gold for the Australian individual and team eventing. Veteran Andrew Hoy, in his seventh Olympics with four golds to his credit, finished fourth in the dressage, Sam Griffiths seventh, and Christopher Burton eighth for Australia to be on top of the team standings after day one of three.
But more bad news for Team GB. Paula Radcliffe, world record holder for the women’s marathon, won’t be a starter at next Sundays marathon, suffering from a persistent foot injury. That’s it for the 38-year-old, ending her stellar career without an Olympic medal of any description in four starts.
Paula Radcliffe deserved better. She has been a great, but injury-prone, competitor over the years.
A gold medal still eludes Team GB, with cyclist Elizabeth Armitstead winning silver in the 140km women’s road race in treacherous conditions with heavy rain and strong winds, so different from yesterdays perfect conditions for the men. Marianne Vos from the Netherlands took out the gold, with bronze to Russian Olga Zabelinkskaya.
Kiwi Linda Melanie Villumsen was the best placed Australasian at 18th, while the Australian trio of Chloe Hosking, Shara Gillow, and Amanda Spratt failed to finish in the top 30.
An estimated million spectators lined the road race route for the men yesterday. Despite the putrid weather, the women’s race wouldn’t have had much less last night.
Those are serious numbers, emphasing how keen spectators are to see Olympic action, and how angry they are when they see vast numbers of empty seats on television at various venues, including the swimming.
The LOCOG investigation found most of those seats were allocated to sponsors. That being the case, why not sell them off on the day or night? Those tickets will sell like hot cakes, creating a better look, and a far better atmosphere for the competitors.
- Basketball with the all-powerful US Dream Team 2 thumping France 98-71, while Brazil beat the Boomers 76-71 in a close contest.
- The Hockeyroos lost 0-1 to New Zealand, the first time the Black Sticks have been successful over their arch cross Tasman rivals in five Olympic encounters.
- Lleyton Hewitt’s first round at Wimbledon against Sergiy Stakovsky was cancelled because of rain. Bernard Tomic, heading for his sixth successive first round defeat, lost the first set against Kei Nishikori 7-6, before play was suspended. (Editor’s note: Tomic lost 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-4))
- While Joshua Jefferis became the first Australian to qualify for an Olympic gymnastic final in 12 years.
- There’s an ugly image problem surfacing within Team GB on home territory in the first two days of competition.
- Welshmen Ryan Giggs, and Craig Bellamy, refused to sing God Save the Queen before the kick-off against Senegal which ended 1-1 with 72,176 fans at Old Trafford.
- And two Scots – Kim Little and Ifeoma Dieke – also refused to sing before Team GB played New Zealand in the women’s football at Millennium Stadium. Team GB won 1-0.
- Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins, the first Brit ever to win the gruelling event and an Englishman, was worse.
He dismissed a congratulatory letter from the Queen, with “**** the Queen, I got a Twitter from Johnny Marr (lead guitarist for The Smiths), and one from god – Robbie Fowler”.
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- 2012 London Olympics