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Six days after winning bronze in the 1,500m freestyle – the event in which he claimed gold at Beijing 2008 – Tunisia’s Oussama Mellouli switched his attentions to the open waters of the Serpentine, for the 10km marathon, the final swimming event at London 2012. It was only his third time competing over this distance, but he produced a blistering performance to finish in 1h49:55.1, enough to take the gold over three seconds ahead of Germany’s Thomas Lurz, and over five seconds quicker than Richard Weinberger of Canada who claimed bronze. The victory took Mellouli’s overall medal tally at the Games to two golds and one bronze, earning him the title of Tunisia’s finest ever Olympian.
The Olympic Stadium provided a stunning backdrop for the BMX finals. The men’s event was won in a time of 37.576 seconds by Latvia’s Maris Strombergs, who made it two gold medals out of two following his victory at Beijing 2008, where the discipline made its Olympic debut. The man nicknamed “the Machine” produced a tactically and technically consummate display, judging his trajectories to perfection to see off the threat of Australia’s Sam Willoughby and Colombian Carlos Oquendo, who took silver and bronze respectively.
In the women’s final, Colombia’s Mariana Pajón – the flag-bearer for her country’s delegation at the Opening Ceremony – was equally dominant, as she claimed as she claimed just the second Olympic gold medal in Colombia’s history (joining weightlifter Maria Isabel Urrutia, who won gold in Sydney in 2000). New Zealander Sarah Walker finished second, while the Netherlands’ Laura Smulders took the bronze.
At the Olympic Stadium, Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter completed a lap of the track in a phenomenal time of 40.82 seconds to claim gold in the women’s 4x100m, and shave more than half a second off a world record that had stood since 1985. The impressive Jamaican quartet claimed the silver in 41.41, just four one hundredths of a second off that previous world record, while Ukraine completed the podium line-up. For Felix, it was a second gold in 24 hours, following on from her triumph in the women’s 200m final.
France’s Renaud Lavillenie set a new Olympic record in the men’s pole vault final, as the only competitor to go clear at 5.97m with his final attempt, providing a dramatic climax to his gripping contest with Björn Otto and Raphael Holzdeppe. The two Germans both finished on 5.91m, with the former claiming silver on countback.
In the women’s 5,000m, Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar reclaimed the title she had first won in Athens in 2004, thanks to a dramatic final straight, in which she overhauled her compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba, who had taken her crown at Beijing 2008, crossing the line in 15:04.73. Dibaba (15:05.15) was then beaten to the silver by Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot (15:04.73) in the final dash for the line. It was the Ethiopian’s fourth Olympic medal in three Games, as she took her overall tally to three golds and one bronze.
The women’s 1,500m final produced a remarkable one-two for Turkey, a nation which never previously won an athletics gold. In a race that was mostly played out at a controlled tempo, Asli Cakir Alptekin upped the pace in the last lap, breaking clear of the pack to cross the line in 4:10.23. In the final scramble for the other medal positions, Cakir Alptekin’s compatriot Gamze Bulut saw off the challenge of Bahrain’s Maryam Yusuf Jamal.
The biggest surprise of the evening was saved for last, in the men’s 4x400m relay final, where Ramon Miller, running the anchor leg for the Bahamas, caught and overtook Angelo Taylor of the USA to ensure that his country’s only medal of London 2012 was a gold. The Bahamian quartet, which also featured Chris Brown, Demetrius Pinder and Michael Mathieu, recorded a winning time of 2:56.72, over half a second ahead of the USA (2:57.05). Trinidad & Tobago gave the podium a predominantly Carribbean feel, sealing the bronze medal in 2:59.05.
Just like their predecessors at the previous four editions of the Games, the Russian synchronised swimming ensemble of Natalia Ishchenko, Svetlana Romashina Anastasia Davydova, Maria Gromova, Elvira Khasyanova, Daria Korobova, Alexandra Patskevich, Anzhelika Timanina and Alla Shishkina charmed the public and the judges with a dazzling exposition of aquatic choreography in the team competition. It was Russia’s fifth consecutive gold in the event, which was only making its sixth appearance at the Games. And the victory also sealed a London 2012 “double” for Russia, after Ishchenko and Romashina secured gold in the duet event three days earlier. China and Spain joined them on the podium, claiming silver and bronze respectively.
On the waters of Weymouth and Portland, it was the turn of the 470 class sailors to compete in the decisive medal races, in which every point earned counts double. New Zealand duo Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie won the women’s medal race, to secure the gold. Making up the podium were British pair Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, who took the silver despite finishing just ninth in the medal race, and ), and Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout of the Netherlands, for whom sixth place in the medal race was enough to secure bronze. The men’s medal race was a less tense affair since, with five victories from the 10 previous races, to go with one second place and two third places, Australia’s Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page were champions-elect going into the final day of competition. With two victories under the belt already, British pair Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell were also assured of silver going into the medal race, leaving Argentinian pair Gabrio Zandona and Pietro Zucchetti to complete the podium roster and claim the bronze.
The women’s hockey tournament reached its climax at the Riverbank Arena, where the Dutch team completed a successful defence of their title by defeating world champions Argentina 2-0, thanks to second-half goals Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel and captain Maartje Paumen, both from penalty corners. In the bronze medal match Great Britain’s women defeated New Zealand 3-1 to secure a podium finish for the first time since 1992.
There were gold medals up for grabs in various combat competitions on day 14, and nations from Europe, North America, South America and Asia shared the spoils. Jordan Burroughs won the USA’s first ever wrestling gold in the men’s -74kg freestyle, defeating Iran’s Sadegh Goudarzi 1-0, 1-0 in the final. Hungary’s Gábor Hatos and Russia’s Denis Tsargush each claimed bronze. In the -55kg weight category, Tsargush’s compatriot Dzhamal Otarsultanov emerged victorious from a thrilling contest with Georgia’s Vladimer Khinchegashvili (1-0, 4-3). The bronze medals went to North Korea’s Yan Kyong-il and Shinichi Yumoto of Japan
Also at the ExCeL, South Korean Hwang Kyung-Seon clinched a taekwondo gold in the women’s 57-67 kg weight category, after dominating Turkey’s Nur Tatar in the final to win 12-5. Germany’s Helena Fromm and Paige McPherson of the USA each won bronze.
In the men’s taekwondo, Argentina’s Sebastián Crismanich managed just one touch against his Spanish opponent Nicolás García Hemme in the final of the 68-80kg category, but that was enough to claim gold by the narrowest of margins. Lutalo Muhammad gave the home fans something to cheer, sharing bronze with Italy’s Maura Sarmiento.
Reigning Olympic champions France defeated Croatia 25-22 in their semi-final of the men’s handball to keep their title defence on track and set up a final showdown with Sweden, who overcame Hungary 33-26 in the other semi. There were no surprises in the men’s basketball semi-finals where victories for Spain over Russia (67-59) and USA over Argentina (109-83) ensured there would be a reprise of the Beijing 2008 final. The water polo semi-finals were an all-Mediterranean affair, in which, Italy defeated pre-tournament favourites Serbia 9-7, while Croatia saw off neighbours Montenegro 7-5.
Back on dry land, Italy were less successful against the favourites in the men’s volleyball, going down 3-0 to Brazil, who teed up a final against a Russian team that was too strong for Bulgaria in the other semi, prevailing 3-1. Last, but not least, in the men’s football tournament the two beaten semi-finalists faced off in match for third place at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, in which South Korea got the better of Japan 2-0, thanks to goals from Park Chu-Young and Koo Ja-Cheol.
It was semi-finals day in all 10 weight divisions of the men’s boxing, and as ever in Olympic competition, both of the two beaten semi-finalists in each category were awarded a bronze medal. The full bronze roll call for London 2012 was as follows: light fly weight – Paddy Barnes (IRL) and David Ayrapetyan (RUS); fly weight – Michael Conlan (IRL) and Misha Aloyan (RUS); bantam weight – Lázaro Álvarez (CUB) and Satoshi Shimizu (JPN); light weight – Yasniel Toledo-Lopez (CUB) and Evaldas Petrauskas (LTU); light welter weight – Vincenzo Mangiacapre (ITA) and Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg (MON); welter weight – Taras Shelestyuk (UKR) and Andrey Zamkovoy (RUS); middle weight – Anthony Ogogo (GBR) and Abbos Atoev (UZB); light heavy weight Yamaguchi Falcao (BRA) and Oleksandr Gvozdyk (UKR); heavyweight – Tervel Pulev (BUL) and Teymur Mammadov (AZE); and finally super heavy weight – Magomedrasul Medzhidov (AZE) and Ivan Dychko (KAZ).