London 2012 Olympics roundup
HIGH jump legend Dick Fosbury believes Britain’s Robbie Grabarz will have to settle for silver behind American Jesse Williams in the London Olympics.
Grabarz and Williams are ranked joint third in the world in 2012 with best clearances of 2.36 metres, but 1968 Olympic champion Fosbury - whose innovative Fosbury Flop revolutionised high-jumping - believes world champion Williams will have the edge over Grabarz.
“This will be really interesting,” Fosbury said. “Williams had an awful day in Beijing [when he failed to make the 2008 Olympic final], Ivan Ukhov is unpredictable and Andrey Silnov is the defending champion.
“But a home crowd matters and I think Grabarz will probably get a silver behind Williams, who has a point to prove after only finishing fourth in Eugene.”
Eugene refers to the US Olympic trials, where only the top three were to earn spots to the Olympics, but the man who finished third in the high jump - Nick Ross - had not made an Olympic ‘A’ standard, allowing fourth-placed Williams to qualify.
Double Olympic decathlon champion Daley Thompson, speaking at an adidas press conference, added: “I think the weather is going to be a big factor because in Eugene it was wet and Williams was only fourth. He is lucky to be here. I’ll take Grabarz over Williams.”
FIVE former Olympic champions have picked Yohan Blake to beat defending champion Usain Bolt in the 100 metres at London 2012.
Bolt won gold over 100m, 200m and in the 4x100m relay at the last Games in Beijing, also setting world records in each event, but has struggled with injury this year and lost twice to world 100m champion Blake in the space of 48 hours at the Jamaican Olympic trials.
And when asked for their predictions for the showdown between the training partners in London, Maurice Greene, Daley Thompson, Ed Moses, Haile Gebrselassie and Dick Fosbury all tipped Blake to edged out Bolt again.
Moses, speaking at an adidas History Day event, added: “I think it’s going to be one of the big surprises of the Games. You are only as good as your last race. I hate to not vote for Bolt, but I don’t think the cards are in his favour. I think Blake is the man to beat.
“At some point, it comes down to how much can one person improve? If you are the world record holder you have to break a world record and sprinters cannot stay on top all the time.”
SOUTH Korea maintained their remarkable record in women’s team archery, winning a seventh consecutive Olympic gold at Lord’s.
They have triumphed at the competition at every Games since it was added to the schedule in Seoul in 1988 and extended that proud tradition in London.
Lee Sung-jin, Ki Bo Bae and Choi Hyeonju defeated Chinese trio Cheng Ming, Fang Yuting and Xu Jing 210-209 in wet and windy conditions reminiscent of those that blighted the gold medal match between the nations in Beijing four years ago.
It is third time in a row China have finished in the silver medal position behind the Koreans, though none of the archers involved four years ago are on duty in London.
The match was decided on the last arrow, when Ki needed at least nine to secure victory. She duly hit the outer gold to cue wild celebrations with her team-mates.
The bronze medal match was won by Japan, who defeated Russia 209-207 to claim the first women’s archery medal in their history.
Ren Hayakawa, Miki Kanie and Kaori Kawanaka came all the way through the draw - having just missed out on a first-round bye - defeating world number threes Ukraine 207-192 and Mexico 219-209 in the quarter-final.
GREAT Britain’s Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney made a dream start to their Olympic campaign as they defeated Canada’s Marie-Andree Lessard and Annie Martin in three sets at Horse Guards Parade. The British pair prevailed in an absorbing Pool F contest, showing flashes of real quality on their way to a gripping 17-21 21-14 15-13 victory.
Mullin and Dampney will take great encouragement from their performance and will hope for more of the same in their next preliminary phase match against Italy’s Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti tomorrow. Mullin and Dampney have worked hard just to reach the Games, prevailing in a long battle with Denise Johns and Lucy Boulton for the
right to represent Team GB, and both looked delighted to finally step out on the Olympic stage.
JENNIFER Kesey and April Ross made it two wins out of two for the United States’ women’s teams as they cantered to 21-11 21-18victory against Argentina’s Ana Gallay and Maria Virginia Zonta in Pool D this evening.
Kesey and Ross are ranked at number four on the world list, just one place behind compatriots and reigning two-time Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, who kicked off their defence with victory over Australia last night.
Kesey and Ross, the 2009 world champions, were quickly into their stride tonight at a chilly Horse Guards Parade, taking the first set with ease before doing just enough in the second to win.
CHINESE third seed Chen Long survived a fightback by Thailand’s Ponsana Boonsak to claim his place in the last 16 of the Olympic men’s badminton singles.
Chen prevailed 21-12 21-17 at Wembley Arena but the scoreline did not reflect world number 22 Ponsana’s efforts in a compelling 52-minute encounter.
Ponsana led 15-10 and 17-16 in the second game as he pressed to take the contest into a decider but Chen hit back and won five successive points to settle the match.
Being the only match in Group E, the result meant the end of Ponsana’s London 2012 campaign and he later voiced displeasure with the format.
While some players are guaranteed two matches in the round-robin section, half of the 16 groups comprise just two players.
Ponsana said: “It’s like a knockout for me. The chance is 50-50 if we were three in a group but with two there is no chance.
“I think I lost my confidence to play. I lost some points and I lost my control. I made too many mistakes.”
EUROPEAN champions Spain got their Olympic medal challenge under way with 95-80 victory over China made comfortable by a late surge.
China fought hard early on but Spain’s class showed through in big performances from their veteran players.
Pau Gasol scored 21 points while Serge Ibaka added 17, Juan Carlos Navarro 14 and Jose Calderon 12.
China came out determined to match the European champions, and for much of the first half they did.
In a tight first quarter the teams were locked together 11-11, with every Spanish run countered by China.
The teams traded the lead a number of times before Spain ended the quarter up 19-17.
Liu Wei had China within two, 33-31 midway through the second quarter, but Spain then began to turn the screw.
Ibaka sparked a 10-2 run that put them up 43-32 on Navarro’s free throws, before a three-pointer from Rudy Fernandez made it 48-36.
Gasol scored on the buzzer to make it 53-41 at the break.
China hung on in the second half and a dunk from Dallas Mavericks Yi Jianlian made it 67-60 late in the third quarter.
But a 9-0 charge from Spain early in the final stanza made it 78-62 and that proved too big a margin for China to claw back as Ibaka added an exclamation mark with two late dunks.
Yi led China with 30 points and 12 rebounds.
GREAT Britain’s Fred Evans booked his place in the last 16 of the Olympic welterweight competition after getting the better of a richly entertaining brawl with fired-up Algerian Ilyas Abbadi at ExCel.
The 21-year-old Welshman did not have things his own way against a gutsy opponent but extended his lead throughout the contest to triumph 18-10, to the delight of another excited capacity crowd.
Evans said: “The atmosphere was unbelievable - like nothing I’ve experienced before. I felt the buzz when I watched Anthony Ogogo on Saturday but you don’t really feel it until you go out there yourself.
“I’m so proud to be here fighting in my home country in front of my friends and family and fulfilling my dream. The whole team is building the momentum and we are all looking at going to win medals.”
In an action-packed opening round, Evans was caught by a pair of left hands by teenager Abbadi, but responded with a series of sharp assaults, landing a big right on his way to establishing a two-point lead at the end of the first.
Evans pulled away in the second, despite looking a little excitable at times and still being troubled by Abbadi’s stiff left hands. He had extended his lead to five points at the end of the second and continued exchanging hard shots in a grandstand finish.
Next up for Evans is Lithuania’s fourth seed Egidijus Kavaliauskas, who dropped and stopped Evans in the quarter-finals of last year’s World Championships, with Evans already having secured qualification for the Games.
The prospect of a rematch does not faze the confident Evans, who said: “He is going to see a different Fred Evans next time. I am stronger and sharper and he is going to find that out when we fight on Friday.
“What happened in the Worlds doesn’t bother me. I’d just achieved my goal of qualifying for the Olympics and my mind wasn’t on the job. This time, in front of my home crowd and my family, it’s going to be a different story.”
JOHNY Akinyemi - an accountancy student from Warrington in Cheshire - became Nigeria’s first ever Olympian in the canoe slalom today.
By his own admission, the 23-year-old had a tough day in the kayak at the whitewater course in Lee Valley, but cheered on by a delegation from Nigeria’s government, he said he was just pleased to be taking part.
Akinyemi, whose father John is Nigerian and mother Heather is British, had been part of the youth set up in the UK until he visited family in Lagos five years ago.
It was there that he was persuaded to represent Nigeria, and with the prospect of competing in the London Olympics, the offer was too good to turn down.
But today ended in disappointment as Akinyemi finished 21st out of 22 competitors in the K1, with the top 15 going through.
His best time of 104 seconds was 17 seconds off the pace after he hit four gates in the first run and incurred a 50-second penalty in his second run for missing a gate altogether.
He said: “It’s been a real privilege to have been given the opportunity to represent Nigeria at the Olympics.
“I have had the full support of everyone in Nigeria. It was a bit of a shame not to get a better result, but I really enjoyed it.”
HUNGARY’S incredible Olympic record in men’s sabre fencing was continued at the ExCeL last night as 22-year-old Aron Szilagyi grabbed their first gold of the London Games.
It was the 13th time a Hungarian had triumphed in the event - and that includes an amazing run of 11 out of 12 victories between 1908 and 1964.
Szilagyi is their only fencer in the world’s top 50 - he is ranked sixth - was their only representative in the 36-strong field and was also one of the youngest taking part, but after four earlier wins he easily beat Italian Diego Occhiuzzi 15-8 in the final.
Bronze went to Russian Nikolay Kovalev, who had beaten German world number one Nicolas Limbach in the quarter-finals.
The United States women’s gymnastics team matched their male counterparts and led the way in Olympic team qualifying at the North Greenwich Arena.
The American threw down the gauntlet to defending champions China - who qualified third - with a total of 181.863, while Russia took second.
Romania, Great Britain, Japan, Italy and Canada complete the team final line-up, with the eight countries set to do battle for Olympic medals tomorrow.
GREAT Britain men’s six-year journey in pursuit of the Olympic dream came to fruition tonight, though it ended in a heavy 44-15 defeat to reigning gold medallists France.
It seems a fitting reward that Team GB were able to make their Games debut sharing the court with the French, who are widely regarded to be the best side in the sport’s history, after the substantial personal sacrifice the majority of the squad have made to be here.
Les Bronzes showcased exactly why they are the favourites to retain their title, with an imposing display of physicality and a strong defence, though the opening 20 minutes will have given the hosts extreme pride and cause for optimism.
THE International Judo Federation has defended the decision to overturn a judges’ flag ruling in this afternoon’s men’s under-66kgs quarter-final between Masashi Ebinuma of Japan and South Korean Cho Jun-ho at ExCeL.
A close fight had entered golden score, during which Ebinuma, the number three seed, thought he had delivered a winning throw, only for that to be overruled by the video referee and downgraded.
With neither fighter registering a score, the contest was to be decided on the decision of the three tatami referees, who all raised blue flags in favour of the Korean.
However, that was reviewed and on instruction from the IJF panel, the judges this time called the contest unanimously in favour of the Japan fighter - which was a first for the sport.
Despite the protests from South Korea and the jeers from some of the crowd at North Arena 2, the IJF stand by the decision.
A statement from the world governing body read: “The International Judo Federation is strongly committed to equity and, as part of our sport judo, to the development of all the tools that in our competitions help the referees to make the right decisions, so that the best fighters win.
“In order to achieve this, a video system was set up and has proved successful.
“In the quarter-final between two fighters (the Japanese, Masashi Ebinuma and Cho Jun-ho from South Korea) during the Golden Score (three minutes sudden death period, where the first score wins) the commission intervened twice.
“The first time, after checking the video by three experts, to inform the referees that the impact of the projection of the Japanese could not be valued at level 1 (Yuko). A second time, when at the end of Golden Score, the three referees designated the athlete from South Korea as the winner.
“Indeed, the commission explained to the referees that the action, which had been recognised as a Yuko and then lowered in value, was nevertheless the strongest action to be taken into consideration.
“The referee and the two judges of the fight, after having received the details from the experts commission, decided to change their decision and give victory to the Japanese.
“The IJF states that this is the final and right decision.
THREE-TIME gold medallist Ben Ainslie struck a satisfied figure after securing second-place finishes in both of yesterday’s opening Olympic sailing races.
The 35-year-old is the undoubted star of Great Britain’s sailing team and the bookies’ favourite to top the Finn class podium.
Ainslie has previously struggled at the beginning of Olympics, but flourished on the home waters of the south coast this afternoon.
He finished the day with two second places behind Denmark’s Jonas Hogh-Christensen, who he joked had the spirit of countryman Paul Elvstrom behind him - a man Ainslie would overtake as the most decorated Olympic sailor ever should he win gold.
“It was a good day,” he told Press Association Sport. “They were tough conditions out there, especially on the Nothe Course [in the first race].
“There was very, very shifty winds but it was a good start. It was ok, but there is a long way to go.
“I think Jonas was on a hotline to Paul Elvstrom today.
“He sailed fantastically well so all credit to him and we’ll see how things develop for the rest of the week.”
Thousands congregated in the Nothe Gardens to watch the racing on what was the first occasion ticketed spectators have been able to watch sailing at the Games.
Home supporters, though, had hearts in their mouth early on as favourite Ainslie rounded the first mark of the opening race outside the top 10, before producing a superb downwind leg to rise up the fleet.
“I needed to show how to do it downwind in the first race as I didn’t have such a great first leg,” he said.
“I had to get my work rate up downwind and pull through and thankfully I managed to do that.
The United States opened the defence of their Olympic title with a clinical 25-17, 25-22, 25-21 dispatching of Serbia, dispelling the notion that they are not strong contenders this time around.
The Beijing winners arrived in London with at least five other teams favoured ahead of them, but this straight-sets success over a physical Serbia side may cause a rethinking of that order.
They would have won the first set by a greater margin were it not for a mini Serbian revival, and then displayed recovery skills of their own to come from 8-4 behind in the second.
An early break was then established in the third set and, with Serbia knowing the game was already up, a procession to the finish line ensued.
Captain Clayton Stanley - one of the most well-known names in the men’s game - led the way for America, featuring in their top-three diggers, spikers and setters.
Marko Podrascanin was Serbia’s stand-out, killing six blocks, but he was short of support and his side must now prepare for a clash with Tunisia, while Germany are next for America.
THE Great Britain men’s water polo team should take positives from their 13-4 defeat to Romania, according to their captain Craig Figes.
Team GB squandered too many chances in front of goal, but the 33-year-old from Bristol believes the performance was better than the result suggested.
“The scoreline is a bit harsh on us,” he said.
“Towards the end of the second quarter, they put their chances away and we didn’t.
“There were quite a few extras [man-up situations] that we didn’t convert, and once you’re four or five goals down to a world class team, like we were playing, then it’s always very difficult.”
Figes got Great Britain off the mark with a penalty in the first quarter, before 24-year-old Rob Parker from Cheltenham scored twice in the third, and 22-year-old Jack Waller, from Enfield, netted in the fourth period.
Figes added: “We actually performed quite well, especially in the first half.
“We created a lot of chances. Today we didn’t put those chances away.
“So if we can keep that performance and put the ball in the back of the net when we create the chances, then we’ll get a lot closer.”
THE USA clinched a nailbiting 8-7 game against Montenegro at the Water Polo Arena. Just one goal separated the two teams in the final Group B match of the opening day, as the Americans won 8-7.
After reigning champions Hungary were defeated by Serbia, Beijing silver medallists USA threw down their gauntlet in the so-called Group of Death.
Montenegro, who came fourth in 2008, scored first with an Aleksandar Ivovic free throw, but American Ryan Bailey put the scores level for the first quarter with a man-up goal. Tim Hutton netted for the USA after 30 seconds in the second period, only for Ivovic to send in another free throw to make it 2-2.
The USA then pulled ahead through goals from Layne Beaubien and Peter Varellas, going into the half time break with a 4-2 lead. The teams shared the spoils in the third quarter with Adam Wright and Varellas scoring for the USA, while Drasko Brguljan and Aleksandar Radovic netted for Montenegro.
Three goals for Montenegro in the final quarter from Vjekoslav Paskovic, Ivovic and Vladimir Gojkovic were not enough to steal victory from the USA, who themselves netted twice through Varellas and captain Tony Azevedo.
OM YUN Chol claimed Olympic gold in sensational style after double world champion and pre-competition favourite Wu Jingbiao failed to make his last lift in a thrilling finale to weightlifting’s 56kg category at the 2012 London Games.
Amazingly, Om, from North Korea, triumphed from this morning’s B group - supposedly for second-tier lifters - and was present in the stands to watch China’s Wu fall agonisingly short.
Om, only the fifth man in history to lift triple his own body weight, put in a sensational performance as he equalled the world record and set a new Olympic best in the clean and jerk element (168kg).
His overall total of 293kg was four kilos more than managed tonight by Wu (289kg), who had to settle for silver, with fellow A group lifter Valentin Hristov, 18, claiming bronze - a first-ever weightlifting Olympic medal for Azerbaijan.
NOVAK Djokovic had to come from a set down to beat Italy’s Fabio Fognini on a frustrating day of Olympic tennis at Wimbledon.
Heavy showers throughout the day prevented all but a couple of hours of play on any court except Centre, and Djokovic on Court One was among those badly affected. The second seed, who carried Serbia’s flag in the opening ceremony on Friday, looked uncomfortable with his footing on the grass and was tied at 7-7 in the first-set tie-break when the heavens opened again. The match did not resume until this evening, when Djokovic promptly lost the first two points and the set, but he began the second well and in the end the slippery conditions hampered Fognini more, with one heavy fall at the start of the third leaving the Italian struggling.
Djokovic capitalised and polished off a 6-7 (9/7) 6-2 6-2 victory to set up a second-round clash with either Andy Roddick of the United States or Slovakia’s Martin Klizan.
Djokovic blamed rustiness for his struggles, saying: “It’s a start. I haven’t played an official match since Wimbledon so it took me a set and a half to really get into the rhythm and obviously the rain delay affected the game and I wasn’t sharp enough after it. I was thinking about those two points and the way I should play them, but of course this is a specific surface, everything happens very fast, and I didn’t start off well.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east