Following Thursday’s action, the United States sprung to the top of the leaderboard in the medal count for the first time during these Games, in addition to tying China for the #1 spot in golds. How that was accomplished–and more–below:
Gabby Makes History With Win The initial narrative of the women’s gymnastics all-around was world champion Jordyn Wieber’s shocking failure to qualify; after the event had actually concluded, though, the story we ended up with was so much bigger. 16 year-old Gabby Douglas, who’d been more or less off the radar entirely less than a year ago, rose to the occasion in a major way to win the United States’ third straight all-around gold. More importantly for the sport, Douglas became the first African-American gymnast to claim the title, a distinction that hopefully will inspire young girls across the country to grow up dreaming of following in her footsteps.
Gabby’s road to the top of the medal stand was paved by hard work and hardship, as she moved away from her family in Virginia Beach at age 14 in order to train with Shawn Johnson’s coach out in Des Moines, Iowa. All that effort and adversity paid off on Thursday night, as she was in the lead right off the bat and clinched the title when Viktoria Komova’s score on floor was revealed to have fallen short.
Even with all that she’d gone through to get there, Douglas was cool as could be on Thursday night. Even more strange, perhaps? There were smiles. There was fun. That kind of thing just normally doesn’t happen in gymnastics—look at the miserable Russian girls—but Gabby brought it all in bunches. She was simply infectious to watch, and it was easy to tell that the crowd loved her right from the get-go. Besides her last two chances to add to her gold-medal collection in uneven bars and balance beam this week, this is sure to be far from the last we hear of Douglas. Calling her smile a “million-dollar” one probably would be a vast underestimate—you can bet your house we’ll be seeing it on Wheaties boxes and in that never-ending stream of Subway commercials over the next four years. I imagine America won’t be complaining, either.
Why isn’t handball big here? Okay, so in sharp contrast, this isn’t really news or important at all, but handball is awesome, and I have no idea why we don’t have it in the U.S. I mean, it’s basically dodgeball except with a goal. We can all get on board with that, right?
A Resurgence in the Pool The United States hasn’t quite had the same stranglehold over swimming this time around, but things have begun looking up a little, especially with the results from Thursday’s finals. Tyler Clary was previously best-known for some disparaging comments he’d made about Michael Phelps that were misconstrued and taken horribly out of context; fortunately for him, his new title will now first and foremost be be Olympic Gold Medalist. Clary set an Olympic Record in the 200m breaststroke, and after long having lived in the shadows of Lochte and Phelps, the 23 year-old could be one of the new American stars in London, along with Nathan Adrian.
Part of the reason why the door will be open for Clary in Rio is that on Thursday, Phelps—or so he’s said, at least—swam the penultimate individual event of his illustrious career. The all-time great once again came out on top, besting Lochte in a 1-2 200m IM finish and continuing to show flashes of his Beijing form after experiencing a slow start to these Games. He’ll have two more shots at gold in the 100 fly on Friday and the 4×100 medley relay on Saturday before supposedly hanging up the speedo and goggles for good.
Not to be missed among the waves being made by her male counterparts, American Rebecca Soni won gold in the 200m breaststroke, becoming the first woman ever to successfully defend the title: she’d won the same event in ’08 as well.
U.S. Deals Nigeria Record-Breaking Defeat On the back of a measly 37 points from Carmelo Anthony, the new incarnation of the Dream Team disappointingly failed to beat Nigeria by triple digits on Thursday, ultimately going on to win a squeaker, 156-73.
No but in all seriousness, the margin of victory was the largest in Olympic basketball history, as was the number of points the U.S. scored. Not too shabby. Then again, Tunisia—which lost to the U.S. by 53 a couple days ago—was the reigning African champ, so I guess it’s fair to say that this wasn’t all that surprising.