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London 2012 - Day 4 - Michael Phelps makes history

It was the day that Michael Phelps made history, securing his 19th Olympic podium finish to become the most medalled athlete in the history of the Games. And there was more joy for the USA, as their women’s artistic gymnasts ended a 16-year wait for team gold. Elsewhere, French canoeist Tony Estanguet clinched his third Olympic title in the C1 slalom.

Phelps sets new overall medals record
By his own gilt-edged standards, Day 4 started disappointingly for Michael Phelps. The American had won gold in the 200m butterfly in the previous two editions of the Games, but in London he was beaten into second place in the final by South Africa’s Chad Le Clos. Le Clos overtook the defending champion with his final few strokes to touch the wall five hundredths of a second ahead of him. However, Phelps bounced back later that morning to claim his first gold of London 2012, swimming the final leg of the men’s 4x200 freestyle relay, as USA clocked 6:59.70 to see off the challenge of France and China. That second podium finish of the day took Phelps’ overall Olympic medal tally to 19, putting him one ahead of Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina to make him the most decorated Olympian in history. Meanwhile, his team-mate Allison Schmitt claimed her third medal, and her first gold of London 2012, winning the women’s 200m freestyle ahead of France’s Camille Muffat, who had pipped her to gold over 400m; Australia’s Bronte Barratt took the bronze. There was a new Olympic record in the women’s 200m medley, in which China’s Ye Shiwen swam 2:07.57 to see off Australia’s Alicia Coutts and American Caitlin Leverenz.

US gymnasts end 16 year wait for gold
An inspired Gabrielle Douglas - who was the only female gymnast to compete on  on every apparatus - spearheaded her fellow US women’s artistic gymnasts ( McKayla Maroney, Alexandra Raisman, Kyla Ross and Jordyn Weiber) to team gold for the first time since Atlanta 1996. Russia and Romania claimed the other podium places, some distance behind the Americans.

Estanguet completes title hat-trick
After taking gold at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, French canoeist Tony Estanguet made it a hat-trick of Olympic titles in the C1 slalom, to make up for the disappointment of his surprise elimination in the semi-finals in Beijing four years earlier. The 34-year-old put in a series of perfect displays on the rapids of the Lee Valley White Water Centre to become the first ever French athlete to win three Olympic titles in the same discipline. Germany’s Sideris Tasiadis took silver, while the defending Olympic champion Michal Martikan of Slovakia had to content himself with bronze.

Germans ride to victory in the three-day eventing
After leading from the first event, the dressage, and consolidating their position in the cross-country, the German equestrian team of Peter Thomsen, Dirk Schrade, Ingrid Kimke, Sandra Auffarth and Michael Jung put in a brilliant performance in the showjumping : to secure a resounding overall victory in the team eventing competition. Great Britain took the silver, while New Zealand completed the podium line-up. In the individual competition,, Michael Jung, on his horse Sam, secured the gold medal, ahead of Sweden’s Sara Algotsson Ostholt and his German team-mate Sandra Auffarth.

Chen Ruolin’s platform for success
After taking double gold in the individual and synchronised 10m platform events in Beijing, China’s Chen Ruolin teamed up with Wang Hao in London to win another gold in the women’s synchronised platform. The Mexican duo of Paola Espinoza and Alejandra Oroczo claimed the silver, while Canada’s Meaghan Befeito and Roseline Filion took bronze.

Judokas, weightlifters and fencers all ExCel
In the judo, Slovenia’s Urska Zolnir got the better of Xu Lili of China in the final of the women’s -63kg category, leaving Japan’s Yoshie Uno and France’s Gévrise Emane to share bronze. In the men’s competition, South Korean Kim Jae-Bum improved on his silver in Beijing to win the -81kg with a victory over Germany’s Ole Bischof  in the title bout. He was joined on the podium by Russia’s Ivan Nifontov and Canadian Antoine Valois-Fortier.

Also at the ExCeL, in the women’s -63kg event, Russia’s Svetlana Tsarukayeva recorded a lift of 237kg and Canada’s Christine Girard of 236kg. Meanwhile, China’s Lin Qinfeng was crowned champion in the men’s -69kg category, lifting 157kg in the snatch and 187kg in the clean and jerk for a total of 344kg, putting him well clear of Indonesian Triyatno (333kg) and Romania’s Razvan Martin (332kg).

Over in the fencing hall, there was further joy for China as Lei Sheng took gold in the men’s foil final with a 15-13 victory over Egypt’s Alaaeldin Abouelkasssem. South Korea’s Choi Byung-chul edged the bronze medal contest with a 15-14 win against Italian Andrea Baldini.

Hancock shoots new skeet record
At London’s Royal Artillery Barracks, defending champion Vincent Hancock, dominated the skeet competition, setting a new Olympic record in the final with a total score of 148 from his 25 shots. Denmark’s Anders Golding took the silver, with bronze going to Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, who when not representing his country in Olympic competition, enjoys considerable success as a world-class rally driver.
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