Day 1: Phelps vs. Lochte, women’s soccer and basketball

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The highlight of the first full day of competition came when Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps swam the 400 IM. The U.S. women’s soccer team took on Colombia, and the U.S. women’s basketball team met Croatia on the court.

Join in the conversation.

SATURDAY, JULY 28 (DAY 1)

NBC

5 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Men’s cycling – road race (LIVE, 5 a.m.)
Swimming – qualifying heats (11 a.m., 1:30 p.m.)
Women’s basketball – U.S. vs. Croatia (LIVE, 11:45 a.m.)
Rowing – qualifying heats (2:30 p.m.)
Women’s volleyball – U.S. vs. South Korea (LIVE, 3 p.m.)
Men’s beach volleyball – Americans Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal in qualifying-round match vs. South Africa (LIVE, 5 p.m.)
8 p.m. – midnight
Swimming – gold medal finals in men’s and women’s 400m IM (Lochte and Phelps), men’s 400m freestyle, women’s 4×100 freestyle relay
Men’s gymnastics – team competition
Beach volleyball – Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings in qualifying-round match vs. Australia
12:30 a.m. – 1:30 a.m.
Men’s gymnastics – team competition
Women’s weightlifting – 48 kg

NBC Sports Network

4 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Women’s beach volleyball – qualifying-round match (LIVE, 4 a.m.)
Women’s badminton – qualifying-round match (5 a.m.)
Shooting – 10m air rifle finals (LIVE, 6 a.m.)
Women’s volleyball – China vs. Serbia (LIVE, 6:45 a.m.)
Fencing – women’s foil (LIVE, 8:15 a.m.)
Archery – men’s team eliminations (8:45 a.m.)
Women’s soccer – New Zealand vs. Brazil (LIVE, 9:30 a.m.)
Table tennis – American Timothy Wang vs. North Korea (11:15 a.m.)
Women’s soccer – United States vs. Colombia (LIVE, noon)
Equestrian – individual dressage (1:45 p.m.)
Women’s soccer – France vs. North Korea (LIVE, 2:45 p.m.)
Women’s handball – Norway vs. France (LIVE, 4:30 p.m.)
Archery – men’s team gold medal final (5:45 p.m.)

MSNBC

7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Women’s soccer – Japan vs. Sweden (LIVE, 7 a.m.)
Table tennis – American Lily Zhang vs. Croatia (9 a.m.)
Fencing – women’s foil round-of-16 and quarterfinals (9:30 a.m.)
Women’s soccer – Canada vs. South Africa (LIVE, joined in
progress, 10:45 a.m.)
Men’s beach volleyball – qualifying-round match (LIVE, 11:30 a.m.)
Women’s soccer – Britain vs. Cameroon (LIVE, 12:15 p.m.)
Table tennis – American Ariel Hsing vs. Mexico (2 p.m.)
Fencing – women’s individual foil (2:45 p.m.)
Badminton – Americans Tony Gunwan and Howard Bach vs. South Korea (LIVE, 3:45 p.m.)

CNBC

8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Men’s boxing – round-of-32 bantamweight and middleweight elimination bouts (LIVE)
3:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Men’s boxing – round-of-32 bantamweight and middleweight elimination bouts (LIVE)

Bravo

7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Tennis – first-round matches in men’s and women’s singles and doubles (LIVE)

NBC Olympic Basketball Channel

4 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Women’s basketball:
China vs. Czech Republic (LIVE, 4 a.m.)
Canada vs. Russia (LIVE, 6 a.m., Replay, 8 a.m.)
Turkey vs. Angola (LIVE, 9:30 a.m.)
United States vs. Croatia (LIVE, 11:30 a.m., Replay, 1:30 p.m.)
Brazil vs. France (LIVE, 3 p.m.)
Australia vs. Britain (LIVE 5 p.m.)

NBC Olympic Soccer Channel

7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Women’s soccer:
Japan vs. Sweden (LIVE, 7 a.m.)
New Zealand vs. Brazil (LIVE, 9:30 a.m.)
United States vs. Colombia (LIVE, noon)
France vs. North Korea (LIVE, 2:15 p.m.)
Canada vs. South Africa (4:30 p.m.)
Britain vs. Cameroon (6:15 p.m.)

Telemundo

8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Packaged Spanish-language coverage includes a replay of the Opening Ceremonies plus swimming, volleyball, beach volleyball and boxing

From the podium, over and out

Is that an American flag in your teeth, Mr. Lochte?

And as Ryan Lochte savors his National Anthem moment, I will sign out. Being a music critic, I can’t resist, as a parting note, to remind people to think about where the national anthem recordings used at the Olympics actually come from — my colleague Philip Kennicott wrote a fine piece about it in 2008.

That particular arrangement played for Lochte’s podium moment was strikingly quick – it’s hard even to tear up over an anthem played that fast.

Good night to all, and happy watching.

Reaction shots

I loved Sun Yang’s primal cries after he became the first Chinese man ever to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming (setting an Olympic record in the process): he emitted a series of gutteral Hulk-like shouts of triumph.

Sun Yang, untrammeled in victory.

Contrast that to Ryan Lochte’s little satyr smile after his own victory.

Ryan Lochte, the gold medalist, is looking at you.

I also love it that athletes seem to be placing less and less of a premium on being good sports about losing. Taylor Phinney was endearingly downcast at his fourth-place finish in the men’s cycling road race; while Fabian Cancellara, the Swiss cyclist who was in an excellent position when he took a nasty fall, seemed to be weeping on his coach’s shoulder after he finally limped across the finish line.

But nothing can quite match the reaction of the mother of the American gymnast John Orozco, who looks, watching his routines, much as I did when watching “The Silence of the Lambs” — face usually behind hands, peeking out through her fingers.

That's entertainment: James Bond and the knitters

10:10 pm: NBC has evidently thrown aside all pretext of sports coverage and has already reverted to various levels of meta-navel-gazing: looking back at last night’s opening ceremonies.

Now Ryan Seacrest is covering the social media reaction to last night’s clip of James Bond and the Queen. This is not sports, it’s entertainment.

The opening-ceremonies film clip of the Queen and James Bond was delightful. Still, I'm not sure it's worthy of instant-replay treatment during Day 1 of the actual sports coverage.

My mind is turning, however, to the knitters and crocheters I wrote about a couple of weeks ago who got a cease-and-desist letter from the U.S. Olympic Committee about their Olympic-themed event called the Ravelympics. The knitters, who belong to the social network Ravelry.com, were compelled to change the name of their craft-along to the “Ravellenic Games.” More than 10,000 of them are currently knitting, crocheting, spinning, and weaving on projects they began at yesterday’s opening ceremonies and have pledged to finish by the closing ceremonies, 16 days hence. And if you’re focusing on knitting a complicated sweater while watching TV, you could argue that Ryan Seacrest is a much better background than compelling sports events, which can lead to bifurcated focus and dropped stitches.

Bringing together the themes of the Queen, humor, and knitting, I leave you with a relevant blog post by the popular knitting instructor and designer Franklin Habit, who for some time on his blog documented his imaginary life with a sheep named Dolores and a talking ball of sock yarn named Harry. Fortunately, I see that the TV coverage may actually have returned to a real honest-to-goodness sporting event by the time this entry has posted.

On objectivity and nationalism

National pride is a tricky thing at the Olympics -- you don't want to be too jingoistic. Team Germany's uniforms certainly didn't give the country much to get excited about.

Another national issue that is always amusing at the Olympics is the pretext of objectivity that the NBC sportscasters appear to try to maintain while focusing almost exclusively on American athletes.

Other countries don’t necessarily have this problem. I remember watching several Olympic Games in Germany, and the German broadcasters were openly rooting for their guys – I wish I could remember the event that led one broadcaster to abandon his booth and mike to run down and embrace his compatriots who had just won a medal.

The men’s 400 m freestyle swimming match was, of course, perfect for NBC, since the two front-runners were both American. Still, it might have been nice to hear a little something about the silver and bronze medalists.

In fairness, this didn’t happen at all in the live coverage of the cycling road race earlier today, when the broadcasters actually focused more throughout the race on the British cyclist who was a favorite to win, Mark Cavendish, than on the American Taylor Phinney, who ended up coming in fourth.

 

Lochte takes to Twitter to celebrate his gold medal

After winning gold in the 400 IM, Ryan Lochte took to Twitter to thank his fans, announce his victory, and generally be full of well-deserved good cheer. Looks like somebody made a good call on skipping his high school reunion:

Profiles in redundancy

I don’t know about you, but I watch the Olympics because I like to watch sports. Perhaps this makes me a rarity among the millions and millions of Olympic viewers. But I emphatically do not watch the Olympics to watch profiles of the athletes. Can you imagine if Stephen Strasburg had a no-hitter going on and we had to cut away to watch interviews with his family?

It almost makes me hope that Michael Phelps will lose. Oh, wait, am I not suppose to reveal the results of events that happened five hours ago?

Edited to add: Right after Ryan Lochte’s victory was finally televised, NBC put in a spot for a website where you can go to watch still more profiles.

 

Competition at the highest level

After Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings won their first round, the teammates were asked what would be the biggest challenge they’d face in 2012. May-Treanor cited the competition, describing her foes as “a strong pool” and adding that a strong pool is exactly what she wants. “You want to compete at a high level every time you step on the court.”

World, this is just further proof that we all could learn a lot by revisiting “Bring it On,” a movie chock full o’ pertinent wisdom for these Olympic Games: 

The jingoism of international coverage

On to gymnastics, and not a moment too soon for me. (My husband, on the other hand, was vastly enjoying the beach volleyball.)

The close-up of the Chinese coach’s Buddha beads brought up a subject that always bemuses me about Olympic coverage — far from being international, it often seems to be very parochial. Part of the fun of the Olympics, of course, is to get a view of all the different countries, from the Mongolian flagbearer’s fantastic costume at the opening ceremonies last night to the triumph of the Kazakh cyclist in today’s men’s road race (Alexandr Vinokourov could have found no better way to end a long cycling career than with Olympic gold). But there tends to be a “gee, whiz, how quaint” aspect to coverage of athletes from smaller countries that I could do without.

At the same time, we don’t see enough of those less-familiar countries’ competitors, because the cameras tend to focus on the serious medal contenders and athletes from their own countries — with a couple of cameos for the more colorful also-rans. (Remember the Jamaican bobsled team?) Often, the opening ceremonies are the only real reminder of just how many different countries are actually involved.

What do you think?

Edited to add: And no sooner had I posted that than we got a cameo of the gymnast from Ireland…

Edited again to add: Meanwhile, men’s gymnastics appears to have driven my husband out of the room entirely. (Are “gymnastics” singular or plural? “Gymnastics appear” sounds a little odd.)

Gender and volleyball

Beach volleyball gets a disproportionate amount of attention, so I’m glad to see that we got at least a small featurette covering real volleyball. (I’m sure beach volleyball players would gripe at my use of the term “real” volleyball, but I plead a layman’s ignorance of politically correct volleyball terminology.)

Beach volleyball is a tailor-made sport for an Olympics broadcaster looking to boost ratings. It’s got everything: cute girls for the guys to watch, and, for the women, the interpersonal drama afforded by a two-person team — much more dramatic and easier to follow than six or twelve different players.

I saw some of the men’s beach volleyball competition earlier today, but that’s never going to make prime time. The drama in that particular match was that it involved the British team, which provided one of the classic Olympic story lines: host country attempts to be a contender in a sport for which it has no affinity whatsoever. However, there are plenty of other Olympic sports involving scantily clad hunky men, so Misty May Treanor and Kerri Walsh are getting the prime-time honors.

Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor (Marcelo Del Pozo/Reuters)

(I promise not to gripe all night about the drawbacks of taped coverage, but I really hate Googling to check the spelling of someone’s name and thereby learning what the results of the match were before it’s been shown on the program I’m watching.)

The Rookie and the Veteran

L: Missy Franklin, R: Natalie Cook (L: Ng Han Guan/AP, R: Ryan Pierse/Reuters)

We’ve got an interesting contrast coming up tonight: Australian beach volleyball player Natalie Cook is a FIVE TIME Olympian. Five times, people! Meanwhile, Missy Franklin, the 17-year-old swimming phenom from Team USA, will be making her Olympic debut. Who are you more excited to see: the woman who seems to get stronger by the year, or the newbie who could be heading back to Colorado with as many as seven medals around her neck? And what’s the more incredible achievement: bringing your A-game to the Games as a veteran or making your mark on the world stage before you’re even old enough to vote?

Holler back in the comments.

Live from London -- taped.

And we’re off. And we’re taped.

There’s something ironic about live-blogging coverage that’s anything but live. I spent quite a bit of time this morning watching the men’s road race in cycling, men’s team archery, and the men’s 400 m freestyle swimming trials, and part of what I enjoy is the immediacy, the uncertainty, rooting along. The prime time coverage offers none of that — indeed, it was not until about 8:10, past the first commercial break, that any actual sports coverage was shown at all.

Every year, I bristle at the packaged feel of much Olympic coverage, particlarly the prime time coverage — even though the “behind the scenes” profiles and interviews with athletes are supposed to appeal precisely to my demographic (female).

On the other hand, you could argue that since there are far too many sporting events to keep track of, it’s helpful to have everything summarized in a composite show at day’s end.

Where do you stand? Would you rather pick and choose for yourself what to see, or is the People-magazine style coverage just fine with you, given that most of these sports are things that we only even think to follow once every four years? And did you watch any of the live events this morning?  Tell us what you think.

Prepping for prime time on NBC

NBC’s decision to make everyone wait to primetime to watch the five-hour taped delay Olympics has garnered plenty of gripes and groans (see #nbcfail on Twitter) for one instance. However, thanks to a record-breaking ratings bonanza for the Opening Ceremony, the heads of the network can pat themselves on the back for a strategy well played. An average of 40.7 million people turned in to the games.

TV critic Lisa de Moraes writes:

“This audience number for the London Opening Ceremony is a great early sign that our strategy of driving people to watch NBC in primetime is working,” NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus said Saturday in a statement.

That’s known at a nose-thumbing quote.

It’s also known as a reason to stick around on this blog. We’ll be here, as NBC hoped, watching the Games and blogging the primetime coverage of Sports Already Won Earlier Today.

Tune in at 8p.m. for Style writers Anne Midgette and Jessica Goldstein. My early prediction: NBC will milk the dramatics, pump the inspirational tunes and put on a show hopefully worth the wait.

May-Treanor, Walsh Jennings advance

Kerri Walsh Jennings (left) and Misty May-Treanor celebrate during their match. (AP/Petr David Josek)

Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings won their first match in pool play of the beach volleyball tournament, 21-18, 21-19, against Australia’s Nat Cook and Tasmin Hinchley.

In an earlier match at Horse Guards Parade, Marketa Slukova and Kristyna Kolocova of the Czech Republic defeated Stefanie and Doris Schwaiger of Austria, 10-21, 21-13, 15-13. May-Treanor and Walsh will face the Czech and Austrian duos in upcoming preliminary matches.

May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings won gold in Beijing (2008) and Athens (2004).

New look for women's beach volleyball

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 28: Nat Cook (R) and Tamsin Hinchley of Australia react to a shot in their match against Misti May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Women’s beach volleyball has been known for its skimpy attire, but in March the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) relaxed its dress code to allow players to wear long-sleeved tops and shorts instead of bikinis.

Most women who played earlier in the day stuck with bikinis, but the American and Australian teams that are competing tonight are taking advantage of the change — it is, after all, close to11:30 p.m. local time and in the 50′s. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings are wearing tight-fitting long-sleeved navy blue shirts and bikini bottoms. Australians Nat Cook and Tamshin Hinchley have paired blue leggings with form-fitting white short-sleeved shirts under their green bikini tops.

Liz Clarke explored the issue of female athletes’ attire in this story earlier this week.

Gibb, Rosenthal advance in beach volleyball

Americans Jacob Gibb and Sean Rosenthal advanced easily in their first pool match of the men’s beach volleyball tournament, taking just 34 minutes to beat Freedom Chiya and Grant Goldschmidt of South Africa, 21-10, 21-11.

Gibb and Rosenthal were fifth in Beijing four years ago.

In an earlier Pool D match, Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Ruslans Sorokins of Latvia defeated Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel of Poland. Gibb and Rosenthal will face both pairs later in qualifying play.

American Gausha wins in knockout

Boxer Terrell Gausha of Cleveland scored a stunning upset in the middleweight division, getting the first knockout of the Olympic tournament in his opening bout against Andranik Hakobyan of Armenia.

Gausha, 24, of Cleveland trailed by one point after two rounds, but got some good advice from the U.S. corner. What did coaches tell him?

“Double up the jabs and then punch,” he said. “Close the gap.”

It worked with a vengeance. In the last 10 seconds of the fight, he twice knocked Hakobyan to the mat, drawing two eight-counts. On the second, the referee called the fight, although it was so hard to tell that even Gausha (pronounced Gu-SHAY) didn’t realize it. He thought the decision still rested on points.

Gausha’s road doesn’t get easier: His next bout will be against the winner of the match between Vijender of India, a bronze medalist in Beijing, and Danabek Suzhanov of Kazakhstan.

“I ain’t done yet,” Gausha said.

U.S. women's volleyball downs South Korea

Foluke Akinradewo spikes the ball in the U.S. women's volleyball match against South Korea. (AFP PHOTO/KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV)

The U.S. women’s volleyball team, silver medalists four years ago, stumbled in its third game but defeated South Korea, 25-19, 25-17, 20-25, 25-21, in Pool B play at Earls Court.

China beat Serbia, 3-1, in an earlier Pool B match. Brazil, the gold medalist in 2008, took on Turkey in the final match of the day.

In earlier Pool A matches, Japan defeated Algeria, 3-0; Britain was shut out by Russia, 3-0, and Italy defeated the Dominican Republic, 3-1.

U.S. is top qualifier in men's gymnastics

Danell Leyva had the highest qualifying score in the individual all-around. (Reuters/Dylan Martinez)

The U.S. men finished today’s qualifying round in first place with a score of 275.342, nearly three points ahead of second-place Russia (272.595). Britain, which only sent two gymnasts to Beijing in 2008, is in third place (272.420), followed by Germany (270.888). Heavily-favored Japan is in fifth (270.503) and defending Olympic champion China is in sixth (269.985).

Scores from the qualifying round do not carry over to the final, which is Monday at North Greenwich Arena.

Danell Leyva and John Orozco finished first and fourth, respectively, in qualifying for the all-around competition. Three-time world champion Kohei Uchimura of Japan was ninth.

Four Americans advanced to the individual event finals: Jake Dalton (floor), Sam Mikulak (vault), Jonathan Horton (horizontal bars) and Leyva (horizontal bars).

Read more here.

 

Tennis roundup: Federer, Serena Williams advance

Brothers Andy and Jamie Murray of Britain fell in the first round of men's doubles competitiong at Wimbledon. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Reigning Wimbledon champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams both won on the first day of Olympic tennis competition, highlighting the 32 singles matches that took place at the All England Club on Saturday.

Williams cruised, 6-3, 6-1, over Serbia’s Jelena Jankovic, while Federer needed three sets to defeat Colombian Alejandro Falla, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

Williams and John Isner were the only Americans to win singles matches Saturday, as Isner earned a 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, win over Olivier Rochus of Belgium.

Louisiana native Ryan Harrison suffered a 7-5, 6-3 loss to Colombian Santiago Giraldo, Georgia’s Donald Young lost, 6-4, 6-4, to Italian Andreas Seppi, and New Jersey native Christina McHale lost, 6-4, 7-5,  to Serbian Ana Ivanovic.

Other big names who won singles matches Saturday were four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters, 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

Two-time Wimbledon champions and 2008 Olympic bronze-medal-winning Americans Bob and Mike Bryan won their first-round doubles match, 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (7-5), 6-3, over Brazilians Thomaz Bellucci and Andre Sa.

Isner teamed with Andy Roddick in doubles, but that American pair lost, 2-6, 4-6, to Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares.

Wimbledon runner-up Andy Murray teamed with his brother Jamie in doubles, but the British pair fell to Austria’s Jurgen Melzer and Alexander Peya, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5, in front of an enthusiastic crowd on Court Two.

First round singles and doubles matches continue Sunday, live on Bravo at 7 a.m.

Hope Solo rips Brandi Chastain

Hope Solo is no stranger to drama, and the outspoken U.S. goalkeeper is already stirring things up in London.

Shortly after helping the Americans earn a 3-0 shutout against Colombia, Solo took to Twitter to bash bra-bearing American soccer icon Brandi Chastain for her commentary on NBC’s broadcast.

Read her comments and the backstory here.

Medal count: Day 1

All of the events that are awarding medals today have been completed, and the U.S. currently has five: one gold, two silver and two bronze. China has six total: four gold medals (two in swimming, one in shooting and one in weightlifting) and two bronze.

Host county Britain has been shut out, but as Vikki Orvice, a sports writer for The Sun tabloid, wrote on Twitter, “Be not afeard as danny boyle and shakespeare would say. same in beijing. First gold came in womens road race”.

 

Missy Franklin wins first medal

In this photo taken with an underwater camera, the Netherlands' Inge Dekker, Australia’s Alicia Coutts and Missy Franklin of the U.S. compete in the women's 4 x 100m freestyle relay final. (AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS XAVIER MARIT)

Missy Franklin, a 17-year old rising senior who is aiming for seven medals in London, claimed her first as the U.S. women took bronze in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay. Australia won in Olympic-record time, 3:33.15, followed by the Netherlands (3:33.79). The American team of Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Lia Neal and Allison Schmitt finished in 3:34.24. Read more about the race here.

Beisel, Vanderkaay claim swimming medals

American swimmers picked up two more medals in the moments after Ryan Lochte’s 400 IM win. Peter Vanderkaay won bronze in the 400 freestyle in a time of 3:44.69; he finished behind China’s Sun Yang (3:40.14, an Olympic record) and Park Tae-Hwan (3:42.06).

Elizabeth Beisel picked up a silver medal in the women’s 400 IM in 4:31.27. China’s Ye Shiwen won in world record time, 4:28.43.

Bob Bowman: "It was horrible"

Bob Bowman, the longtime coach of Michael Phelps, said the poor lane assignment — lane eight — had nothing to do with Phelps’s stunning fourth-place finish in the 400 individual medley at the Olympic Games. Bowman said he didn’t think Phelps’s fitness was an issue, either.

He said he simply had no explanation for Phelps’s mystifying slow time time of 4:09.28 — about two seconds slower than he swam at the U.S. Olympic trials.

“We just have to put it behind us and move on,” Bowman said. “I expected he would be in the four-oh-six, oh-seven range. He said it was horrible and it was. That was an accurate assessment.”

Lochte sympathizes with Phelps

Ryan Lochte seemed as surprised as Michael Phelps that the two-time Olympic champion finished fourth in the 400-meter individual medley final Saturday night. Lochte greeted reporters wearing his signature “Jeah” baseball cap, turned slightly sideways.

“I know he gave it everything he had,” Lochte said about Phelps. “That’s all you can really ask. I’m going to talk to him and see how he feels about that.”

Lochte celebrates 400 IM gold

Ryan Lochte poses on the podium with the gold medal after winning the men's 400m IM. (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)

Ryan Lochte raised his arms to the crowd, then grinned widely as he accepted his gold medal in the 400-meter individual medley Saturday night. “USA!” chants briefly filled the swim arena before the national anthem played.

“I’m in kind of a shock,” Lochte had said moments after winning in 4:05.18 as defending Olympic champion Michael Phelps got fourth place. “Going into the race, I knew I was capable of getting the win. I’m happy I was able to do that.”

Phelps somber after fourth place

Michael Phelps reacts after finishing fourth in the 400 IM final. (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)

Michael Phelps described his fourth-place finish in the 400 meter individual medley as “pretty upsetting.”

Phelps, who was in a tight race only for third place, got fourth in 4 minutes, 09.28 seconds as Ryan Lochte claimed the gold medal in the event. Lochte finished in 4:05.18, followed by Brazil’s Thiago Pereira in 4:08.86. Japan’s Kosuke Hagino got the bronze in 4:08.94.

“It’s just really frustrating to start off on a bad note like this,” said Phelps, who failed to medal in an Olympic event for the first time since the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. “It’s pretty upsetting. I think the biggest thing now is just to get past this and move forward.”

Archers hope more medals in store for U.S.

Brady Ellison, center, Jake Kaminski, left, and Jacob Wukie celebrate their victory in the semifinals.

The silver disc weighs nearly a pound but Jake Kaminski certainly wasn’t going to complain about the extra weight tugging at his neck

“I read somewhere that each medal takes 10 hours to make,” said the 23-year old archer. “So it’s awesome to have such an amazing piece of craftsmanship around my neck.”

Kaminski and teammates Brady Ellison and Jacob Wukie won the first Olympic medals for the United States at these Summer Games, taking silver in the men’s archery team event Saturday at the historic Lord’s Cricket Ground. The trio knew before they set foot on the medal stand that they’d managed to win before Ryan Lochte hit the pool or Kobe Bryant hit the basketball court. They hope their good fortunate is contagious.

“Hopefully, it’s good sign for a great games for the U.S.,” Ellison said. “We’re just happy to be the front-runners to help lead the charge.”

Lochte wins gold in 400 IM; Phelps is fourth

Ryan Lochte reacts after winning the men's 400m individual medley final. (AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND)

Ryan Lochte has won the 400 IM gold medal with an utterly dominant performance of 4:05.18, while Michael Phelps, the two-time defending Olympic champion, failed to medal after barely qualifying for the final. Lochte pulled ahead on the backstroke leg and gained two body lengths on the breaststroke lap, and was never threatened.

A crestfallen Phelps walked briefly through the international mixed zone after the race and described his fourth place finish — his first non-medal performance in an Olympic event since the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney — as “pretty upsetting.”

Phelps was relegated to lane No.8 after a mystifyingly slow performance in his morning preliminary, when he out-touched Lazlo Cseh to claim the last spot in the final by just seven hundredths of a second. He admitted afterwards, “That didn’t feel good.”

Although Phelps has six events remaining in London, it was a shockingly poor beginning for the man who won a record eight gold medals in Beijing four years ago. Asked earlier this week which title he most wanted to defend, Phelps had replied, “All of them.”

As the long shadow of Phelps faded in the Olympic pool, the perfect form of Lochte emerged. Lochte has been the more confident and dominant American swimmer since Beijing, and he fully ratified his status with a performance that looked deceptively easy in the water. In fact Lochte has worked relentlessly to surpass Phelps, even undertaking a strength program that includes flipping an 850-pound tire. “I know no other swimmer in the world is doing the stuff I’m doing,” he has said.

Wozniacki, Hantuchova win

Anne Keothavong, a British player with a rare chance to play on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, made the most of it, winning her first set before falling to Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia also advanced, beating Li Na of China, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

 

What's the secret to Wimbledon's grass?

Wimbledon's grass looks almost as good as new. (Paul Gilham/Associated Press, left, Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images)

Take a look at the left, that’s Wimbledon’s Centre Court during the men’s singles final on July 8. On the right we fast forward to today on the same court, where Roger Federer played his opening match in the Olympics. In about three weeks the grass is much improved.

Sally Jenkins wondered if sod might be behind the improvement. What’s your take? Let us know.

Bryan brothers advance

Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan represent the United States.

Bob and Mike Bryan won their opening match, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, against Thomaz Bellucci and Andre Sa of Brazil at the All England club.

Another pair of Americans, Andy Roddick and John Isner, lost their opening doubles match, 6-4, 6-4, to Brazilians Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares. Both Isner and Roddick are entered in singles competition as well.

In a singles match, Andreas Seppi of Italy defeated American Donald Young, 6-4, 6-4.

Phelps vs. Lochte coming up at 2:30 p.m. ET

We’re less than 30 minutes away from the scheduled start of the men’s 400 meter individual medley final, which features the first big showdown between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. We’ll have a live update here, but if you want to watch it live, you’ll have to go to NBCOlympics.com. The race will be broadcast on NBC tonight.

 

U.S. beats Colombia, 3-0, in women's soccer

The U.S. women’s soccer team, trying to use the Olympics as a way to rebound after last year’s loss in the World Cup, is off to a strong start in group play following a 3-0 handling of Colombia Saturday evening in Glasgow.

The American flags in the sparse crowd at Hampden Park waved enthusiastically after a pair of rapid-fire goals in the second half from Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd. The U.S. is now 2-0 with one Group G match remaining against North Korea and is on the brink of qualifying to the quarterfinals.

American coach Pia Sundhage used the late stages of Saturday’s game to clear her bench.

First medal for Americans comes in archery

Jake Kaminski of the United States competes in the team archery semifinal.

The U.S. men’s archery team won the silver medal, the first medal for the Americans. Italy took the gold. We’ll have more soon.

 

U.S. women's soccer pulling away

The U.S. attack broke through in a big way in the second half of the women’s soccer match against Colombia with goals from Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd providing a 3-0 lead.

Wambach’s goal came in the 74th minute. She slid to the ground in traffic and got her right foot on the ball to send a low shot past Colombia goalie Sandra Sepulveda.

Just three minutes later, Lloyd added her tally, and what was at risk of becoming a nerve-wracking affair became a blowout. Since allowing two quick goals to France, the Americans have reeled off seven straight goals.

Abby Wambach scores in the 74th minute and Carli Lloyd adds another tally three minutes later to give the U.S. women’s soccer team a 3-0 lead over Colombia in Glasgow.

U.S. women's basketball tops Croatia

The final score was the United States 81, Croatia 56, but that hardly offers a clear picture of the American women’s first game of the Olympic tournament.

Croatia failed to score for the first 8 minutes 44 seconds of the game — yet the United States led after the first quarter just 11-4. Both teams heated up slightly in the second quarter, but Croatia was able to overcome that early deficit and lead several times against a team to which it lost a week ago by 55 points.

At halftime, the U.S. team led by three; at the end of the third quarter, they led by six. Only in the fourth quarter did the Americans resemble the juggernaut they were expected to be, outscoring Croatia 28-9.

Tina Charles led the U.S. team with 14 points and Angel McCoughtry provided a spark with 13. Candace Parker had 13 rebounds.

In earlier Pool A games, China beat the Czech Republic, 66-57, and Turkey beat Angola — the Americans’ next opponent — 72-50.

 

Brazil, Russia claim judo golds

Sarah Menezes of Brazil (blue) competes against Alina Dumitru of Romania.

Sarah Menezes of Brazil won gold in the 48 kg division, defeating 2008 gold medalist Alina Dumitru of Romani by Waza-ari, a throw that awards the second-highest score a competitor can achieve.

Arsen Galstyan of Russia took the gold in the men’s 60 kg competition in 41 seconds, by Ippon, over Hiroaki Hiraoka of Japan. Ippon is the highest score and the match is stopped when it is awarded.

Sofiane Milous of France and Felipe Kitadai of Brazil took bronze medals in the men’s event and Paula Pareto of Argentina and Eva Csernoviczki of Hungary took bronze for the women. Judo awards two bronze medals in each weight division.

U.S. still clinging to lead in women's soccer

The offensive firepower that brought the U.S. women’s soccer team back from a two-goal deficit against France has been largely absent from today’s match against Colombia, which the Americans lead 1-0 in the 60th minute.

Though the Americans have generally dominated possession, they have only managed Megan Rapinoe’s first-half goal. Sandra Sepulveda, Colombia’s goalie, has made several excellent saves.

Rapinoe had the Americans’ best chance thus far this half, a left-footed shot that Sepulveda covered. U.S. goalie Hope Solo has not been truly tested, though the Colombians have spent some time in the Americans’ end.

U.S. women's basketball team struggling

The U.S. women’s team had built a 53-47 lead after three quarters of its Pool A game against Croatia on Saturday.

Neither team was strong offensively early, but the vaunted Americans could not shake Croatia despite beating the same team by 55 points a week ago.

In earlier Pool A games, China beat the Czech Republic, 66-57, and Turkey beat Angola — the Americans’ next opponent — 72-50.

 

Megan Rapinoe's birthday tribute

Megan Rapinoe (center, arms aloft) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Colombia. (REUTERS/David Moir)

As anyone who watched last summer’s Women’s World Cup can attest, American midfielder Megan Rapinoe knows how to celebrate a goal.

But rather than belt out another tune by the Boss after her brilliant tally to open the scoring against Colombia, Rapinoe pulled out a happy birthday message for injured teammate Ali Krieger.

Krieger, who tore her ACL and MCL in qualifying and will miss the London Games, turned 28 today. The 2003 All-Met Player of the Year at Forest Park, Krieger burst onto the scene with her play at the World Cup.

Fans create danger for cyclists

Fans line the course in London as Alexander Vinokourov shadows Rigoberto Uran.

Clad in the colors of the Union Jack, hundreds of thousands of fans hugged the city’s roadways to watch the Olympic men’s road race Saturday. Tickets weren’t required for most of 155-mile course, which meant there was no shortage of cheering fans lined up to take in the competition.

“It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” said German cyclist Andre Greipel. “There was not a single spot to pee.”

For some riders, the problems were bigger than not having a convenient restroom break. American Chris Horner said the crush of people and the narrow roads made the race dangerous.

“It was insane,” Horner said, “but to a degree where it was absolutely probably the most dangerous and crazy race I’ve ever done. For sure. The crowds were unbelievable and the course was so narrow.”

Television cameras captured a dog at one point running amidst the riders. And numerous times, fans would step too far into the roadway to peer at the oncoming cyclists.

“I saw one rider just before we got on the circuit,” Horner said. “This guy’s taking a picture two feet out in the road. He didn’t jump out of the way. The rider smacked him hard. He went through the middle of the field and crashed 15-20 people. The spectator went flying into the crowd – literally, flew into the crowd — and took out some more people.

“It was absolutely the scariest I have ever been in a bike race.”

While the fans ensured the cyclists were accompanied by constant cheering for nearly six straight hours, it also meant riders had to be especially cautious on the course.

“The crowds were unbelievable,” Horner said. “I wish they could have been a little bit more tame, in terms of staying back off the road. …It’s the Olympics. You’ve got to expect something crazy, and it was. Certainly when I say the crowds were a little uneducated, I don’t mean in terms of British crowds or anything. We’re at the Olympics; these are world crowds. I’m not picking out one nation or anything.”

U.S. archers in gold medal match

The U.S. men’s archery team upset Korea in a semifinal to advance to the gold medal match against Italy at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

The American team – Jacob Wukie, Brady Ellison and Jake Kaminski  — defeated Korea, 224-219. The Koreans, holders of the world and Olympic record in the men’s team event — will face Mexico for the bronze.

The gold medal match was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET.

 

U.S. soccer leads Colombia at half

Christie Rampone vies with Colombia's Ingrid Vidal. (AFP PHOTO/GRAHAM STUART)

The U.S. women’s soccer team took a 1-0 lead into halftime of its match against Colombia at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland.

The American attack dominated most of the half, but had only Megan Rapinoe’s goal in the 33rd minute to show for it. The Americans had several good chances to build on their lead.

In the 44th minute, U.S. forward Abby Wambach used her favorite weapon — her head — to put a ball on net, but Colombian goalie Sandra Sepulveda dove on the ball, covering it. Just a minute later, Rapinoe journeyed well inside the penalty area and got her foot on a ball that seemed headed to the back of the net, but was narrowly cleared by a Colombian defender at the goal line.

Near the end of the half, a pile-up of tangled bodies led to some pushing and shoving, which could set up a contentious second half.

Men's gymnastics leading during qualifying

U.S. gymnast Jonathan Horton performs on the rings. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

After two of three phases of competition at North Greenwich Arena, the U.S. men’s team of five gymnasts led qualifying.

Britain was second and Japan third. Seven teams were competing, as well as individual athletes trying to qualify for finals on the various apparatus.

 

Rapinoe goal puts U.S. soccer up 1-0

Megan Rapinoe used a powerful strike with her right foot from just inside the box to put the U.S. women’s soccer team up 1-0 in its Group G match against Colombia.

Rapinoe deftly dribbled around a Colombian defender and sent the ball over Colombian goalie Sandra Sepulveda, who already has covered several dangerous balls from the Americans. The goal came in the 33rd minute.

The Americans carried play early, with Lauren Cheney even looking as if she had scored before she was called for a foul. Abby Wambach rifled a shot from the left wing in the 12th minute that Sepulveda barely got a hand on to punch over the net.

But the Colombians, who lost their first match of the Olympics 2-0 to North Korea, came back and had some decent chances against U.S. goalie Hope Solo, most notably a charge by Carmen Rodallega that just squeaked wide to the left of the net.

U.S. women's basketball leads

Andja Jelavic of Croatia collides with Maya Moore. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s team, which beat Croatia by 55 points a week ago, found itself leading that same opponent by just three, 31-28, at halftime of their Group A pool game Saturday.

The Croatians started so cold that they didn’t score until 1 minute 59 seconds remained in the first quarter and trailed at the end of that period, 11-4.

But then they began to hit some three-pointers, and took their first lead with 3:56 remaining in the game. The U.S. team, meanwhile, was cold early. The combination meant the Americans were challenged in the first game of a tournament they were expected to easily dominate.

In earlier Pool A games, China beat the Czech Republic, 66-57, and Turkey beat Angola — the Americans’ next opponent — 72-50.

 

Federer strolls into second round

Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates his 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 victory over Alejandro Falla of Columbia at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Roger Federer took a 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Alejandro Falla of Colombia on Wimbledon’s Centre Court as another top pro advanced easily at the All England Club.

Another Colombian, Santiago Giraldo, defeated American Ryan Harrison, 7-5, 6-3.

U.S. women's basketball team starts cold

Tina Charles of the U.S. team shoots during the first quarter. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

After one quarter, the U.S. women — perhaps exhibiting some of the nerves that go along with being prohibitive favorites to win the gold medal — led Croatia, 11-4.

The Americans has trouble getting some shots to fall, but not nearly the trouble that their opponents experienced. Croatia did not score until 1 minute 59 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The U.S. women are playing in Pool A with Croatia, the Czech Republic, Turkey, China, and Angola, who they will face on Monday.

U.S. women's soccer kicks off in Glasgow

Hampden Park

The view at Hampden Park. (Barry Svrluga/The Washington Post)

The U.S. women’s soccer team, which opened the Olympic tournament with a come-from-behind 4-2 victory over France on Wednesday, began its second game of group play against Colombia.

The Americans, which fell behind 2-0 against France, will be looking to get off to a quicker start against the Colombians. The U.S. beat Colombia in the 2011 Women’s World Cup, 3-0, behind goals from Heather O’Reilly, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd, all of whom are in the lineup this afternoon.

Alex Morgan, who opened the tournament by scoring twice against the French, has 11 goals in her last eight matches for the Americans. This year, Morgan has 19 goals for the national team.

France plays North Korea in the late match at Hampden Park in Glasgow, where there is a mix of sun and clouds at kickoff. The stands will be only slightly full for this one.

Fencing: Kiefer's run ends in quarters

At 18, American Lee Kiefer was the youngest woman to reach Saturday’s individual foil quarterfinals. But the recent high school graduate more than held her own, earning victories over Canada’s Monica Peterson (15-10) and South Korea’s Gil Ok Jung (15-13) to reach the final eight.

Lee Kiefer, right, got past South Korea's Jung Gil Ok to reach the quartefinals. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

But in an event dominated by Italians over the last decade, the lone American left standing couldn’t overcome an early deficit and fell to Italian Arriana Errigo — one of three Italians to reach the semifinals.

Read the full story here.

Ovechkin at the Olympics?

Is Alex Ovechkin at the Olympics? Judging by his Twitter feed, he was at Wimbledon this morning to watch Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova win their first-round doubles match, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2, over Poland’s Laudia Jans-Ignacik and Alicja Rosolska. He tweeted, “We win today!!good job Mariia and Nadia!!” plus a photo. He later added, “and i sow the best player bfor his match !!!thats was cool!!!” and a photo of Roger Federer.

Britain shut out in cycling road race

Bradley Wiggins of Britain crosses the finish line later than he hoped, in 102nd place. (Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images)

Just one week after a successful Tour de France, Britain’s best cyclists didn’t fare near as well in the Olympics road race.

Kazakhstan’s Alexander Vinokourov won the 155-race through London in a time of 5 hours 45 minutes 57 seconds. Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran was second, unofficially less than a second behind Vinokourov, and Norway’s Alexander Kristoff was third, finishing in 5:46:05.

American Taylor Phinney was fourth, just a hair away from bronze.

Britain’s top finisher was heavily-favored Mark Cavendish, who was the 28th rider to cross the finish line. Cavendish later tweeted, “Gutted. After 250km, less than a minute to 20guys. My guys were INCREDIBLE & there was nothing more we could do. Victims of our own success.”

Having any live streaming issues?

Those of us at The Post’s office in downtown D.C. have had some trouble watching equestrian and rowing online at NBC.com.

What’s your experience been? Have you been able to watch what you’ve wanted to see? Let us know.

U.S. eventing team fares well early

Karen O'Connor of The Plains, Va., competes. (Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

Nearly midway through the first day of three-day eventing at Greenwich Park, the U.S. team was in second place Saturday, trailing Australia.

Three riders had performed in the dressage stage out of the five that will compete by day’s end. A second day of dressage will be held Sunday, followed by a cross-country race Monday and jumping Tuesday.

Karen O’Connor, a two-time Olympic medalist from The Plains, Va., scored 67.90 atop Mr. Medicott, but had 48.20 in penalties. That placed her eighth among the early competitors.

Andrew Hoy led the Aussies with a 41.70, third overall but combined with teammates Sam Griffiths and Christopher Burton it was good enough to knock the Americans off the top spot with two competitors from each country to go.

Vinokourov wins men's road race

Alexander Vinokourov of Kazakhstan claimed gold in the men’s road race. Columbia’s  Rigoberto Uran took second. We’ll have more details shortly.

Serena Williams advances easily

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dominique Dawes watch Serena Williams play. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

With First Lady Michelle Obama looking on, Serena Williams easily won her opening match of the London Olympics over Jelena Jankovic of Serbia, 6-3, 6-1.

Williams looked right at home in her opener, as well she should — she was playing on Centre Court at Wimbledon, where she won the women’s singles title three weeks ago. She had 20 winners and just 11 unforced errors, continuing the dominance she showed in winning her fifth Wimbledon title this summer.

Williams will face Urszula Radwanska of Poland in the next round. Also advancing Saturday were American John Isner and Kim Clijsters of Belgium.

Mrs. Obama was kept company in the box by Venus  Williams and former U.S. gymnast Dominique Dawes (Silver Spring), holder of three bronze and one gold Olympic medals.

The only difference Saturday between the usual Wimbledon matches was couture — Serena wore a navy dress trimmed in red instead of the traditional white required by the All England Tennis Club during its famous fortnight.

The relaxing of restrictions on clothing left some pros wondering what to wear. Andy Murray, the favorite son here, had a red, white and blue outfit designed by Stella McCartney. She apparently got her dad a gig playing in the Opening Ceremonies as a result.

The musical theme from Friday night’s Opening Ceremonies was on display again Saturday in Wimbledon, where a flash mob performed a dance routine of about 15 minutes to music that included “You’ve Got the Love” by Florence and the Machine, “All the Single Ladies” by Beyonce and “Twist and Shout” by Stella McCartney’s dad and some blokes he used to know.

Later, the Pet Shop Boys showed up to play three songs, “Always on My Mind,” “What Have I Don to Deserve This?” and “Winner,” a song they composed for the Olympics.

 

Kiefer advances to fencing quarterfinals

Eighteen-year old fencer Lee Kiefer has advanced to the quarterfinals in the women’s individual foil competition.

Kiefer was seeded sixth and had a bye in the opening round of 64. She bested Canada’s Monica Peterson 15-10 to advance to the round of 32, where she then beat South Korea’s Gil Ok Jung 15-13.

Kiefer, a Lexington, Ky.-native who just graduated high school, will face Italy’s Arianna Errigo in the quarterfinal round later Saturday afternoon. The finals are scheduled for Saturday night.

Fans don't lack for excitement

So far there’s plenty of interest in swimming and cycling. What you are you most looking forward to? Let us know.

Serena Williams wins her first match

Serena Williams defeats Jelena Jankovic, 6-3, 6-1, in their opening match. Williams advances to face Urszula Radwanska. We’ll have more soon.

 

 

Diaz punches his way to good start

 

Joseph Diaz Jr., right, competes against Pavlo Ishchenko of the Ukraine, left, in bantamweight men's boxing competition. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

American Joseph Diaz Jr. won the first boxing match on the first day of competition, a bantamweight victory on points, 19-9, over Pavlo Ishchenko of Ukraine.

His reward — a date with world champion Lazaro Alvarez Estrada of Cuba on Wednesday.

Diaz, 19, is from South El Monte, Calif., and is a southpaw. He’s clearly ready for a career in boxing — he has his own iPhone app, logo and publicist.

But he’ll face a tough test against Alvarez Estrada, who had a bye in the first round, when they face off Wednesday. In 2011, Alvarez Estrada won titles at the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, and at the world championship in Baku, Azerbaijan.

U.S. middleweight Terrell Gausha fights during the evening card (which begins at 3:30 ET) against Andranik Hakobyan of Armenia.

Britain's early lead in men's gymnastics

Louis Smith of Britain competes in the horizontal bar.

Britain is nearly 2.5 points ahead of China after the first of three sessions of team qualifying. “We knew what we were capable of and what we did was well within our capability,” Kristian Thomas told the Associated Press. The Chinese have won the last five world titles. Read the full account here.

The Queen watches swimming

Queen Elizabeth II watches the early session of swimming at the Aquatics Centre. (Martin Rickett/Associated Press)

Duggan second midway through road race

More than halfway through the men’s road race, American cyclist Timmy Duggan was in second place, riding comfortably with the lead group.

Duggan, a 29-year old native of Nederland, Colo., was as far as ninth 65 miles into the 155-mile race but had reached the second position by mile No. 75. He’s riding in a lead group that numbers 11 cyclists and is led by Australia’s Stuart O’Grady.

The United States won two medals in road cycling at the 2008 Games. Kristin Armstrong took gold in the women’s time trial and Levi Leipheimer won bronze in the men’s time trial.

British riders standing out

Britain's Bradley Wiggins, left, awaits the start of the race along with teammates David Millar, center, and Mark Cavendish. Phil Noble/Reuters

The British riders at the head of the peleton are recognizable by the blue Union Jack style stripes on their uniforms, which were designed by Stella McCartney. The Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins cracked via Twitter the other day, “Just arrived at the Olympics, got all me kit, still think Stella was a bit Lucy in the Sky when she knocked this one up.”

China's 'Shooting Beauty' wins first gold

China's Yi Siling poses with her gold medal. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

Chinese shooter Yi Siling — a 23-year-old known as the “Shooting Beauty” — won the first gold medal of the 2012 Summer Games with her victory in the 10m air rifle Saturday. Siling topped Poland’s Sylwia Bogacka and China’s Yu Dan. U.S. shooter Jamie Lynn Gray got fifth overall.

First positive drug test of Games

Albanian weightlifter Hysen Pulaku, 20, tested positive for the steroid Stanozolol on Monday, the International Olympic Committee announced Saturday morning. Pulaku’s credential has been withdrawn and he will be sent home. He is the first announced positive of the competition.

British cyclists seek first gold

Britain took aim at its first medal of these London Games Saturday morning, as its talented cyclists crowded the start line of the men’s road race at The Mall.

Prince Charles was on-hand to greet the riders just before nearly 150 cyclists were sent off on the 155-mile course, which winds its way around London past an estimated one million spectators along the race route before returning to The Mall.

All eyes were on the British riders. Cycling is easily Britain’s most successful sport. At the 2008 Games, Britain claimed 12 medals in track cycling, including seven golds.

They come into these Olympics with a lot of momentum. Four of the five Great Britain riders won a stage on the Tour de France, which featured a one-two British finish by Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome.

But Mark Cavendish is the rider London was watching Saturday morning. He’s considered the top candidate to win gold here.

U.S. rowers win men's eight heat

American rowers made a powerful statement about their plans to reclaim prominence in the men’s eight on the opening day of Olympic rowing competition Saturday, with the boat winning its heat to secure a place in the Aug. 2 final.

The U.S. men handily defeated Ukraine and Poland and held off a stirring charge by Australia to cover the 200-meter course in 1 minute 20.70 seconds. In doing so, the Americans earned the privilege of skipping Sunday’s repechage and will advance directly to the finals, where their stiffest competition is likely to come from Germany, unbeaten in the last three years.

After a disappointing campaign in 2011, the lineup of the U.S. men’s eight was radically reworked with an eye toward the 2012 Olympics. Two Washington-area high school graduates now figure prominently: Giuseppe Lanzone of Annandale, a graduate of McLean; and Potomac’s David Banks, who ran track at Churchill.

“We had a couple of down years in the past, but it’s no one’s fault,” Banks said after the victory. “We’re just trying to band together as a group and achieve something and get back to where we want to be.”

The Germans won Saturday’s second heat with an impressive time of 1:18.60, disappointing a capacity crowd of 30,000 British partisans at the picturesque Eton Dorney course. Britain’s men’s eight came in second (1:20.15), followed the Netherlands and defending Olympic champions Canada.

 

Sluggish start for Lochte

Ryan Lochte looks on after completing his heat. Clive Rose/Getty Images

Ryan Lochte looked better than Michael Phelps in the 400 medley heats Saturday morning, but the reigning world champion posted just the third-best time of the morning and finished second in his heat to Chad le Clos of South Africa. Lochte didn’t like his time one bit.

Lochte came home in 4 minutes 12.35 seconds, 2.34 behind the morning’s leader, Japan’s Kosuke Hagino. Phelps, meantime, finished in 4:13.33 — qualifying for the night’s final in the eighth and last spot.

“I didn’t feel so good,” Lochte said. “That was my first race; the first is always my worst one. I’m glad I got the cobwebs out.”

Lochte said he expected Phelps, seeking his third-straight gold medal in the event, to come back strong Saturday night.

“It’s hard,” Lochte said. “It’s a tough field. But he’s in, so you can’t count him out… He’s a racer.”

Rowing underway at Eton Dorney

Olympic rowing gets under way this morning at Eton Dorney, a lovely venue about 25 miles west of London that’s home to Eton College’s rowing team.

The four-day rowing regatta is expected to be one of the more hotly contested in Olympic history, with Britain deemed the favorite. The host nation will surely have a decided home-water advantage, with the stands expected to be packed with 30,000 spectators for a sport that’s steeped in history and revered by the British. But the Brits topped the medal table at the 2008 Beijing Games, winning six medals, including two golds.

We’ll pay special attention today to the men’s rowing eights, in which two who finished high school in the Washington area, Giuseppe Lanzone of Annandale, a graduate of McLean; and Potomac’s David Banks, who played basketball at Churchill, will take part.

In this event, world champions Germany are the heavy favorites, having won every world cup race they’ve entered in the past three years. Britain, the 2008 silver medallists, and Olympic champion Canada are also expected to be strong.

Saturday’s competition won’t result in any medals. The day consists of heats, and only the winners of the heats are assured of progressing to the next round. Those who fall short get another chance in the repechage round. The U.S. eight will go against Australia, the Ukraine and Poland in its heat.

Phelps barely qualifies in 400 IM

Michael Phelps competes in a heat of the men's 400 IM.

Michael Phelps nearly missed qualifying for Saturday night’s final of the 400-meter individual medley, claiming the eighth of eight final slots by just .07 seconds with a relatively slow morning swim. Phelps expressed disappointment to reporters moments after swimming in the fourth of five heats, but he didn’t realize how close he came to getting eliminated on the first morning of Olympic competition.

In his heat, Phelps had overtaken Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh, the silver medalist in the event in 2008, in the freestyle leg to win his heat in 4:13.33. But the winning time fell well short of the best of the day. Japan’s Kosuke Hagino led all swimmers with the 4:10.01 he posted in the third heat. South Africa’s Chad le Clos put up the second-best time of the morning, 4:12.24; he edged reigning world champion Ryan Lochte, who came home in 4:12.35.

Phelps’s performance landed him a lousy lane assignment for the final — he won’t be near the center of the pool. Cseh, meantime, who finished in 4:13.40, was eliminated.

“The only thing that matters, really, is getting a spot in,” Phelps said. “You can’t win a gold medal from the morning.”