Olympics Day 11: Golds up for grabs in cycling, athletics, gymnastics
By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
LONDON (CNN) – U.S. hopes for gymnast Gabby Douglas to repeat her gold-winning form Tuesday were dashed as she took a tumble from the balance beam — but it was a day of joy for her teammate Aly Raisman, as she claimed bronze in that event followed by a gold in the floor exercise.
Raisman, who just missed out on a medal in the women’s individual all-around, beat Catalina Ponor of Romania and Russia’s Aliya Mustafina to clinch victory.
She took the third spot in the beam after a U.S. challenge to the initial results saw Ponor pushed down to fourth. China’s Deng Linlin and Sui Lu took gold and silver, respectively, in that event.
The pint-sized Douglas swung back onto the beam to continue her routine, but the slip was too costly for her to place better than seventh.
Outside the gymnastics arena, athletes are battling for victory in the Olympic Stadium — site of the track and field events — as well as in the velodrome, the water polo arena and the Aquatics Centre.
With 21 gold medals in 10 different sports up for grabs on Day 11 of the Games, there is no shortage of drama.
Down in the buzzing Olympic Stadium, four more athletics golds are on the table during the evening session — including the men’s 1,500-meter, where Kenya’s defending champion Asbel Kiprop is looking to make it two in a row, and the women’s 100-meter hurdles.
American Lolo Jones scraped into the 100-meter hurdles final, where she will be hoping to make up for her heartbreak in Beijing, when she lost out on a win after catching the second-to-last hurdle.
Australia’s Sally Pearson is the hot favorite for the medal but Team USA’s Kellie Wells ran a season’s best to win her heat and could contend for a medal in the final.
Finals in the stadium Tuesday include the men’s discus and high jump, where Americans Erik Kynard and Jesse Williams are taking on Russia’s Ivan Ukhov and defending Olympic champion, Andrey Silnov.
Tuesday morning, 100-meter champion Usain Bolt and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake, nicknamed “the Beast,” eased through in their respective 200-meter heats.
Team USA’s Maurice Mitchell clinched the third heat, while France’s Christophe Lemaitre clocked the fastest time of the morning to win his heat.
The women’s 200-meter semifinals were also held ahead of the final Wednesday. American sprinters Sanya Richards Ross, Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter will likely battle with Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce for the medals after clocking fast times to qualify.
There was early disappointment for Team GB, though, as triple jumper Phillips Idowu failed to make it through the qualification round. The athlete, an east London native and Beijing silver medalist, had been the focus of much injury speculation in the run-up to the Games.
Joy and tears were in evidence in the velodrome, the scene of a moving end to two great British Olympic cycling careers.
Chris Hoy took the top spot in the men’s keirin cycle race, making him the first British Olympian to win six gold medals.
“I’m in shock,” Hoy told the BBC, official broadcaster for the Games. “This is just surreal, this is what I always wanted, I wanted to win gold in front of my home crowd.”
Hoy, now 36, said he was 99.9% sure he would not be competing in Rio 2016. “This is the perfect end to my Olympic career,” he said.
But Britain’s Victoria Pendleton was denied a similar fairytale ending when Australia’s Anna Meares took gold in the women’s track cycling sprint after a dramatic finish, leaving her with silver.
An emotional Pendleton, who retires after these Games, said, “I can’t believe it’s all over.” But, she added, “I’m very glad to be saying it’s the last time I’m going to go through this.”
The silver medal capped a week of ups and downs for the 31-year-old, who was disqualified from the women’s team sprint alongside teammate Jess Varnish last week but then won gold in the women’s keirin.
Team GB’s Laura Trott won the women’s omnium, a cycling contest made up of six events. American rider Sarah Hammer had been well placed going into the final stage but slipped down the rankings.
British track cyclists have won seven golds in these Games, while those from other nations have won no more than one each.
There was also early exaltation for the home crowds Tuesday, as brothers Alistair and Jonny Brownlee of Team GB split gold and bronze between them in the triathlon, with Spain’s Javier Gomez winning silver.
Thousands of flag-waving spectators had flocked to watch the competitors in the men’s triathlon swim in the chilly Serpentine lake, cycle laps of the Hyde Park area and run a final grueling 10 kilometers.
Alistair Brownlee strolled over waving a Union flag as he claimed an emphatic win — Britain’s first ever gold in the event — while Jonny Brownlee made a brave recovery to take bronze after taking a 15-second time penalty for a bungled transition between phases.
Douglas, nicknamed the “Flying Squirrel” for her aerial agility on the uneven bars, has won a new legion of fans after her thrilling win in the women’s individual all-around early in the Games, but has seen medal chances slip through her fingers since.
The 16-year-old’s unfortunate mistake on the balance beam followed disappointment in the uneven bars Monday, when she came in eighth.
“It was an amazing finals with so many great competitors,” she said after Monday’s event. “Coming into bar finals was a big challenge for me, and I made a little mistake. Even if I would have hit a solid routine, I know I have a lower start value than the other competitors.”
Victory in the men’s parallel bars went to China’s Feng Zhe, ahead of Germany’s Marcel Nguyen in silver position and France’s Hamilton Sabot.
In the equestrian sphere, Britain’s riders Carl Hester, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte Dujardin took the home nation’s first dressage gold, after holding their German rivals to a silver and the Netherlands to bronze in the team grand prix special.
The victory, which was watched from the stands by Princess Anne, came a day after Team GB claimed gold in the team showjumping.
In beach volleyball, Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings take on Chinese duo Chen Xue and Xi Zhang in the semifinals. The other semifinal game pits fellow Americans April Ross and Jennifer Kessy against Brazil.
Team USA beat Canada 91-48 in the women’s basketball to reach the semifinal and will face Australia or China for gold.
In men’s football at Wembley, Mexico edged out Japan 3-1 in the semifinal to reach their first Olympic final. They’ll face either South Korea or the formidable Brazil, who despite their soccer World Cup triumphs have yet to win an Olympic gold.
Iran’s Ghasem Gholamreza Rezaei won gold in the Greco-Roman wrestling 96-kilogram final, after defeating Russia’s Rustam Totrov, and Russia’s Ilya Zakharov won the men’s 3-meter springboard diving final.
Meanwhile, Cameroon’s head of mission confirmed that seven of the African nation’s athletes have gone missing while at the London Games.
The athletes, who include five boxers, a women footballer and a male swimmer, have the right to remain in the country until November. It’s not yet clear if they will seek to stay longer.
China topped the medals table as of Tuesday evening, with Team USA placed second and Team GB in third, after a series of outstanding performances that have delighted the home crowd.