Sánchez on top of the world again
Having run 47.63 to win in Athens, Dominican athlete Félix Sánchez recaptured his Olympic 400 metres hurdles crown at London 2012. Clocking exactly the same time as in his memorable success eight years before, he came from behind to finish ahead of Michael Tinsley (USA) and Javier Culson (PUR). In the women’s pole vault, Jennifer Suhr (USA) and Yarisley Silva (CUB) put an end to Russian champion Elena Isinbaeva’s dreams of a third successive gold medal. Both challengers cleared 4.75m at the second attempt, with Suhr claiming the gold on countback. Isinbaeva made a failed attempt at 4.80m, and had to content herself with bronze.
Fans watching the men’s 400m final witnessed an Olympic first, as Kirani James scooped Grenada’s maiden gold medal in a brilliant time of 43.97. The 19-year-old’s impressive win, which saw three Caribbean runners end up on the podium (the Dominican Republic’s Luguelín Santos and Trinidad and Tobago’s Lalonde Gordon took silver and bronze), was not altogether unexpected, as he had previously emerged victorious from the 2010 World Juniors and 2011 World Championships.
Russia’s Yuliya Zaripova, the reigning European and world champion in the 3000m steeplechase, added an Olympic title to her outstanding CV, outpacing rivals Habiba Ghribi (TUN) and Sofia Assefa (ETH). Meanwhile, New Zealand shot-putter Valerie Adams’ third attempt of 20.70m was enough to see off the challenges of Evgeniia Kolodko (RUS) and Lijiao Gong (CHN), who threw 20.48m and 20.22m respectively.
Kenny races to gold
It was a day to remember for British cyclist Jason Kenny, who beat his great rival Grégory Baugé (FRA) in the men’s individual sprint for the first time to become Olympic champion in front of an ecstatic capacity crowd in velodrome. He had started the competition in eye-catching form, dominating the qualifying time trial with a remarkable average speed of 74.127 km/h.
Kenny subsequently cruised through round after round, before overcoming the former world champion in two races. It was the Englishman’s second gold medal of the Games, having already helped Great Britain to victory in the team sprint, and the host nation’s fifth medal on the cycling track. Third place went to Australia’s Shane Perkins, who defeated Trinidad and Tobago’s Nijsane Philli in the bronze medal contest.
British show jumpers end 60-year wait
Great Britain had further cause for celebration at Greenwich Park, where their show jumping equestrian team of Scott Brash, Peter Charles and Ben Maher and Nick Skelton beat the Netherlands in a jump-off, during which three of the quartet rode clear rounds. Skelton was particularly impressive, completing all three rounds without a single penalty. It was the host nation’s first gold medal in the event since Helsinki 1952. Saudi Arabia captured the bronze, which would prove to be their only medal of London 2012.
US footballers continue all-conquering run
The USA’s women’s football team beat Canada 4-3, courtesy of an extra time goal from Alex Morgan, to qualify for the Olympic final and remain on course for a fourth consecutive gold medal. The victory guaranteed that the free-flowing side would maintain their incredible record of being on every podium since women’s football was introduced to the Games in 1996. Japan claimed the other final berth with a 2-1 defeat of France.
Zanetti reaches new heights for Brazil
A brilliant performance from Arthur Zanetti on the rings saw the Brazilian become his nation’s first Olympic champion – and indeed their first medallist – in artistic gymnastics. The quality of the South American’s swings and general routine was rewarded with the highest overall score, ahead of China’s Yibing Chen, (whose silver was his third consecutive medal in the event, and Italy’s Matteo Morandi, who took bronze. In the women’s uneven bars, Aliya Mustafina, whose participation had been in doubt due to a knee injury, put in a splendid display to outscore Kexin He (CHN) and Beth Tweddle (GBR), while South Korean Hak Seon Yang got the better of Denis Ablyazin (RUS) and Igor Radivilov (UKR) to secure first place in the men’s vault.
Laser class champions make waves
At the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, dinghy specialists Tom Slingsby (AUS) and Lijia Xu (CHN) claimed gold in the men’s Laser class and women’s Laser Radial class respectively. Slingsby dominated his event from the outset recording four separate victories, and then doing enough in the medal race to remain ahead of Cypriot Pavlos Kontides and Sweden’s Rasmus Myrgren in the final standings. Xu, meanwhile, clinched victory thanks to a great performance in the medal race, where points counted double. Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and Evi Van Acker (BEL) joined her on the podium.
Lopez retains Greco-Roman title
In the 120kg category of the Greco-Roman wrestling competition at the ExCeL, Cuba’s Mijain Lopez defeated Heiki Nabi (EST) by two rounds to nothing in the final, retaining the title he won at Beijing 2008. Johan Euren (SWE) and Riza Kayaalp (TUR) both triumphed in their respective combats to earn bronze medals. In the final of the 84kg category, Alan Khugaev (RUS) bagged gold against Karam Gaber (EGY), with Danyal Gajiyev (KAZ) and Damian Janikowski (POL) both landing bronze. Omid Norouzi handed Iran yet another wrestling gold in the 60kg category, coming out on top of a closely contested final bout with Georgia’s Revaz Lashkhi. Zaur Kuramagomedov (RUS) and Ryutaro Matsumoto (JPN) slotted into the bronze medal positions.
Emmons grabs shooting bronze
Niccolò Campriani, who had already achieved a qualifying record of 1,180 in the men’s 50m rifle three positions, held his nerve during the last series of ten shots from a standing position in the final, clinching the gold and setting a new Olympic record of 1278.5. South Korea’s Jonghyun Kim, who shot better than Campriani in the final but had only finished fifth in the qualification round, ended up with the silver medal. The USA’s Matthew Emmons, who had squandered winning positions at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, once again struggled with his final shot, but this time managed to make the podium in third place. The bronze constituted the American’s third Olympic medal overall, but his first in this discipline. In the men’s trap, two shoot-offs were required to determine the destination of the medals. After Croatia’s Giovanni Cernogoraz and Italy’s Massimo Fabbrizi found themselves level on 146 points (an Olympic record), Cernogoraz kept a steady hand to beat his opponent by a sudden-death score of 6-5. The battle for bronze paired defending champion Michael Diamond (AUS), who set a new world record of 125 in qualifying, with Fehaid Al-Deehani of Kuwait. And it was the Kuwaiti who triumphed to become his nation’s only medallist of the Games, just as he was at Sydney 2000.
Fine margins in the weightlifting
The men’s 105kg weightlifting competition at ExCeL London was an exceptionally tight affair. In the end there was just a single kilogram in it, as Oleksiy Torokhtiy (UKR) was crowned Olympic champion thanks to a combined lift of 412kg (185kg in the snatch and 227kg in the clean and jerk), which put him ahead of Iran’s Navab Nasirshelal (184kg + 277kg), who in turn pipped Poland’s Bartlomiej Bonk (190kg + 220kg) to the silver medal by the same margin.