London 2012 - Day 8 - Serena Williams joins the Golden Grand Slam club
The host nation enjoyed its best day so far with golds in the athletics, rowing and cycling. Meanwhile, Serena Williams joined an elite club of Golden Grand Slam winners, and Michael Phelps claimed his 18th Olympic gold.
Golden Grand Slam for Serena Williams
Serena Williams became only the third tennis player in history to complete a career “Golden Grand Slam” – matching the feats of Steffi Graf (GER) and Andre Agassi (USA) by adding an Olympic gold to her victories in all four Grand Slam tournaments (Wimbledon, and the French, US and Australian Opens). The American dropped just a single game as she dispatched Russia’s Maria Sharapova in an emphatic 6-0, 6-1 triumph in the women’s singles final. Belarusian Victoria Azarenka defeated another Russian, Maria Kirilenko, 6-3, 6-4, to win the bronze medal match. In the men’s doubles, American twins Bob and Mike Bryan – the world number ones for 10 years, saw off French pair Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 7-6 to win their first Olympic title. They were joined on the podium by two more Frenchmen, as Richard Gasquet and Julien Benetteau defeated Spain’s David Ferrer and Felciano Lopez 7-6, 6-2 to seal the bronze.
British athletes hog the evening limelight
China’s Chen Ding kicked off a busy day of track and field as he won the men’s 20km walk in a new Olympic record time of 1h18.46. Second over the line was Guatemala’s Erick Barrondo, while the bronze went to another Chinese athlete, Wang Zhen.
Later, as the sun set over the Olympic Stadium, there was a festive atmosphere as Great Britain secured not one, not two but three gold medals. First up, Greg Rutherford claimed the long jump title with a leap of 8.31m on his fourth attempt, putting him well clear of Australia’s Mitchell Watt (8.16m) and USA’s Will Claye (8.12m). That set the stage for the hugely popular Jessica Ennis to complete her heptathlon programme with 6,955 points to set a new British record and win gold ahead of Germany’s Lilli Schwartzkopf (6,649 pts) and Russia’s Tatyana Chernova (6,828 pts). Central to her triumph were some exceptional performances in the 100m hurdles, the 200m and 800m. The victories for Rutherford and Ennis ensured that by the tine Mo Farah lined up for the men’s 10,000m, the atmosphere in the stadium was electric. And when he surged ahead of US runner Galen Rupp and Ethiopia’s Tariku Bekele in the final lap to cross the line in first place, the decibel levels went through the roof. Among the other highlights of the evening’s athletics programme, Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price mounted a successful defence of her women’s 100m title, clocking 10.75 to finish in front of the US pair Carmelita Jeter (10.78) and Veronica Campbell-Brown (10.81). Meanwhile, Croatian discus thrower Sandra Perkovic produced a gold-medal winning throw of 69.11m, leaving Russia’s Darya Pishchalnikova (67.56m) to claim silver, with China’s Li Yanfeng (67.22m) taking the bronze.
Phelps serves up a golden final flourish in the pool
Michael Phelps brought the curtain down on his competitive career in fitting style, as he helped the USA to gold in the 4x100m medley relay. For his last ever competitive swim, he contributed two lengths of butterfly with Matt Grevers (backstroke), Brendan Hansen (breaststroke) and Nathan Adrian (freestyle), as the USA touched the wall in 3.29.35 ahead of Japan and Australia. That meant that Phelps’ final tally stood at 18 Olympic titles and 22 medals in all, a record that will prove very difficult to better. Missy Franklin, Rebecca Soni, Dana Vollmer and Allison Schmitt more than matched the feats of their male compatriots, winning the final of the women’s 4x100m medley relay, and setting a new world record of 3:52.05 into the bargain. Australia and Japan once more made up the podium places, but this time in reversed the order, claiming silver and bronze respectively. The Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo completed the 50m/100m freestyle double, with a new Olympic record of 24.05 in the shorter distance as she took gold ahead of Belarusian Aliaksandra Herasimenia (24.28) and her compatriot Marleen Veldhuis (24.39).
To round off the day’s action in the pool, China’s Sun Yang took almost four seconds off his own 1,500m world record, taking the gold in a time of 14:31.02, more than eight seconds ahead of his closest rival Ryan Cochrane of Canada (14:39.63), and the defending Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia (14:40.31), to ensure he went into the 10km marathon full of confidence.
British rowers sign off in style…
Great Britain’s rowing team enjoyed a gilt-edged final day of competition at Eton Dorney, adding two more golds to their haul. Sophie Hosking and Katherine Copeland won the women’s lightweight double sculls, while Alex Gregory, Tom James, Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge took the title in the men’s four without coxswain. That left Team GB top of the final rowing medal table with four golds, two silvers and three bronze, easily beating their previous best of eight medals, which came way back in 1908… also in London! They were denied yet another gold in the men’s lightweight double sculls by just 6/100ths of a second, as Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter were beaten to the line by Danish pair Rasmus Quist Hansen and Mads Rasmussen . Meanwhile, Czech rower Miroslava Knapkova triumphed in the women’s single sculls, finishing ahead of Denmark’s Fie Udby Erichsen and Kim Crow of Australia.
GB women set the world on fire in the velodrome
Danielle King, Laura Trott and Joanna Roswell ensured that the British national anthem, God Save the Queen, received yet another airing at the Olympic Velodrome, as the trio clinched gold in the women’s team pursuit. On the way to the title, they broke the world record no less than three times, riding 3:15.669 in the heats, 3:14.682 in the elimination round, and then 3:14.051 in the final, in which they finished more than five seconds faster than their US rivals. The Canadian trio were too fast for their opponents from New Zealand in the bronze medal contest.
Photo finish victory for Spirig in triathlon
London 2012 produced the most dramatic ever finish to an Olympic triathlon. 1500m swim, 40km cycle, and a 10km run, all of which took place in the majestic setting of Hyde Park, Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig and Lisa Norden of Sweden raced for the finish line side by side, and broke the tape together in 1h59.48.00 in the women’s event. Spirig was awarded the gold by virtue of a photo finish. Australia’s Erin Densham came in just two seconds later to claim bronze.
Chinese monopolise badminton
At Wembley Arena, China’s domination of the badminton continued, as world number three Li Xuerui surprised her compatriot and world number one, Wang Yihan to win the women’s singles final in three sets. Indonesia’s Saina Nehwal triumphed in the bronze medal match in straight sets against Wang Xin to prevent an all-Chinese podium. It was the same story in the women’s doubles, where Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei defeated Japanese duo Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa in straight sets to further boost China’s badminton medal tally.
Rossi shoots for the stars
Italian shooter Jessica Rossi took the women’s trap by storm, registering a new world record of 75 in the qualification round, and then hitting 99 out of a maximum 100 targets in the final to set another one. A tie-break was needed to separate three other shooters for the other two medal positions, with Czech Zuzana Stefecekova and France’s Delphine Racinet eventually taking silver and bronze respectively. Meanwhile, in the final of the women’s 50m rifle three positions, the USA’s Jamie Lynn Gray took gold with a score of 691.9, a new Olympic record.
At the North Greenwich Arena, Canada’s Rosannagh MacLennan put on a brilliant display in the women’s trampoline to take the gold ahead of Chinese pair Shanshan Huang and Wenna He who took silver and gold respectively.
Still at the ExCeL, China’s Li Na, Sun Yujie, Xu Anqi and Luo Xiaojuan fenced their way to gold in the women’s team épée final, with an emphatic 39-25 victory over South Korea, while the USA edged a 31-30 thriller against Russia to take the bronze.