Twelve gold medals were awarded in Olympic competition on Monday, four of them coming in swimming. Our Day 3 recap below:
U.S. Rules the Backstroke In the women’s 100m backstroke, 17-year-old American Missy Franklin gave a herculean performance as she overtook the heavily favored Aussie Emily Seebohm down the home stretch to secure the upset and an American record in the event. Franklin was in the difficult position of having to swim a mere 20 minutes after the semifinals of the 200 free, in which she grabbed the last spot in the finals. Her gold is the first individual medal of what looks to be a very promising career. The Americans’ backstroke superiority continued, as Matt Grevers and Nick Thoman took gold and silver respectively in the men’s 100m, with Grevers setting an Olympic record in the process. In the women’s 100m breaststroke final, meanwhile, 15-year-old Lithuanian phenom Ruta Meilutyte held off a late charge by American Rebecca Soni to become the youngest athlete to ever win the event.
Men’s Gymnasts With a Disappointing Showing The Americans did not fare nearly as well in the men’s gymnastics team final as they did in the swimming events. The competition began with Team USA hoping to dethrone the Chinese team that won gold in the Beijing games, but the Americans’ hopes were dashed by early miscues that put the team in a hole that would prove too deep to escape. The U.S. was in contention after their first rotation (the floor exercise), despite one costly fall, but a fall on the pommel horse and poor performances on the vault made the second half of the competition largely irrelevant for the Americans; they would finish fifth overall. The Chinese, on the other hand, silenced critics and doubters who wondered if the injury-laden team that limped into the final round could live up to its former glory. They took team gold, winning the overall competition by four full points and claiming first in three of the six events.
Disappointment Continues for Lochte The first of the finals in the pool came in the men’s 200m freestyle, where Ryan Lochte was looking to bounce back after squandering a lead on the last leg of the 4×100 freestyle relay. He would again be disappointed in a race that was dominated by Frenchman Yannick Agnel. The same swimmer who out-touched Lochte for gold in the relay continued his strong performance in freestyle events to win his second gold of these games. Lochte was in contention through the entire race and was in position for a silver in the final 50 meters, but he would ultimately finish fourth after being passed by Park Taehwon of South Korea and China’s Sun Yang, who finished in a rare tie for silver.
Words vs. Action Tyler Clary made news this summer when he publicly called out teammate Michael Phelps, saying that Phelps relies too much on his natural talent and doesn’t have to work as hard as others in the sport. Now Clary will be forced to put his swimming where his mouth is, as both men qualified on Monday for the finals of the 200m butterfly, an event that Phelps is looking to win for a record third-consecutive time in the Olympics. Clary will have his work cut out for him, too: Phelps was in third for most of his semifinal heat until he turned it on during the final lap to remind us all that he is still Michael Phelps and that this is his signature event.
Looking Ahead Highlights of Tuesday’s schedule include Andy Roddick facing Novak Djokovic in tennis, the American men’s basketball team looking to dominate Tunisia, and four more finals in the pool, including the aforementioned Phelps/Clary showdown.