Live: Day 12: Beach volleyball, track and field, men’s basketball quarterfinals

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Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings go for an unprecedented third straight gold medal in women’s volleyball; they face fellow Americans April Ross and Jennifer Kessy in the final. It’s a busy day at Olympic Stadium, with three Americans in the women’s 200-meter final and Usain Bolt running in a men’s 200-meter semifinal. The U.S. men’s basketball team plays Australia in a quarterfinal.

What else should you be watching? Consult today’s viewer’s guide.

Miss anything? Read past live blogs: Opening Ceremonies | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11

Join in the conversation.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8 (DAY 12)

NBC

10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Equestrian – individual jumping gold medal final (Live, 10 a.m.)
Track and field – qualifying in men’s 5,000 meters, women’s 800 meters and men’s pole vault (10:45 a.m., 1:15 p.m.), men’s decathlon 400 meters (Live, 4:30 p.m.)
Men’s volleyball — quarterfinal, United States vs. Italy (Live, 11 a.m.)
Canoe/kayak – gold medal finals in men’s K-1 1,000 meters, men’s K-2 1,000 meters, men’s C-1 1,000 meters and women’s K-4 500 meters (12:45 p.m.)
Beach volleyball – women’s bronze medal match (Live, 2 p.m.)
Men’s water polo – quarterfinal, United States vs. Croatia (Live, 3 p.m.)
Cycling – men’s BMX qualifying (4 p.m.)

8 p.m.-11:05 p.m.
Track and field – gold medal finals in women’s 200 meters, women’s 400-meter hurdles, women’s long jump and men’s 110-meter hurdles
Beach volleyball – women’s gold medal match
Diving – women’s platform diving qualifying

12:05 a.m.-1:05 a.m. (Thursday)
Track and field – men’s javelin qualifying
Cycling – women’s BMX qualifying.

NBC Sports Network

6 a.m.- 8 p.m.
Men’s handball – quarterfinal, Iceland vs. Hungary (Live, 6 a.m.)
Table tennis – men’s team bronze medal match (Live, 7:45 a.m.)
Men’s basketball – quarterfinal, Russia vs. Lithuania (Live, 9 a.m.), France vs. Spain (Live, 11:15 a.m.), Brazil vs. Argentina (Live, 3 p.m.), United States vs. Australia (Live, 5:15 p.m.)
Boxing – women’s semifinals with flyweight, lightweight and middleweight bouts (1 p.m.)
Women’s field hockey – semifinal, Netherlands vs. New Zealand (2:15 p.m.)

MSNBC

9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Men’s volleyball – Argentina vs. Brazil (Live, 9 a.m.), Poland vs. Russia (Live, 2:40 p.m.), Bulgaria vs. Germany (4:30 p.m.)
Men’s water polo – Australia vs. Serbia (Live, 10:45 a.m.), Spain vs. Montenegro (noon), Italy vs. Hungary (Live, 1:30 p.m.)
Table tennis – men’s team gold medal match (Live, 1 p.m.)
Wrestling – women’s freestyle gold medal finals (4 p.m.)

CNBC

5 p.m.-8 p.m.
Boxing – men’s quarterfinals with light flyweight, light welterweight and light heavyweight bouts

NBC Olympic Basketball Channel

9 a.m.-9 p.m.: Men’s basketball – Russia vs. Lithuania (Live, 9 a.m.), France vs. Spain (11:15 a.m., Replay 1 p.m.), Brazil
vs. Argentina (Live, 2:45 p.m.), United States vs. Australia (5:15 p.m., Replay 7 p.m.)

Telemundo

9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Packaged Spanish-language coverage includes men’s basketball, track and field, men’s volleyball and women’s beach volleyball.

Call me Swami

Not bragging (okay, a little), but I wrote this at 8:22 p.m. (you could look it up):

Without having seen the already completed, tape-delayed and now super-stale results, I will boldly predict that Allyson Felix will take tonight’s marquee track event, the 200-meter race. Felix looked superb in the prelims, and is the top-ranked 200 runner in the world this year. I think she’s unbeatable and will win a long-awaited and much-deserved individual gold. The only mystery is who gets silver and bronze. I’ll take 100 winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica in second, Carmelita Jeter of the good ol’ U.S.A. to show. A great field. It takes one to keep Sanya Richards Ross out of the medals.

A refreshing smile from Gabby Douglas

Gabby Douglas’ endearing, full-watt smile was on display again today as she and the rest of the Fab 5 caught a glimpse of their images on a new cereal box.

Team mate McKayla Maroney tweeted the adorable picture:

As Sally Jenkins pointed out in her column today, it was that exuberance that we fell in love with, and what 1996 gold medalist Dominique Dawes hopes Douglas stays true to.

“The best advice I can give is to be herself, be genuine, and not try to be what other people think America wants or will gravitate to,” Dawes said. “Everybody wants to know what America will fall in love with. America will fall in love with a kid who is genuine. The thing I love about Gabby is that she’s been herself every step of the way so far. And I hope it stays that way, and that the people around her help her do that.”

Read Jenkins’ full column here.

Time's Up for Me...

You’ve been gold-medal readers–thank you, and come back tomorrow. Good night, everyone!

Where's the Field?

Track and field it ain’t, if you watch NBC. Today, for instance, was a ginormous day: with women’s hammer throw, men’s pole vault and men’s javelin, as well as the first five events of the men’s decathlon (the 100, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400). But NBC can’t air enough track in prime time, apparently. Not to mention the other sports we’re not seeing, like women’s boxing, women’s wrestling and men’s water polo. And canoe sprint! Which prompts the question: Do canoe sprinters swagger like track sprinters?

Did you know...

One of NBC’s Twitter factoids of the evening:

 

I think that justifies Walsh’s victory dance. I’m waiting for the .gif of that one.

Bikini OD

Someone please explain to me why the female beach volleyballers wear bikinis. The swimmers don’t wear bikinis. The synchronized swimmers don’t wear bikinis. Bikini bottoms have got to be less than ideal for the athletes. Just saw one of ‘em, bless her heart, tugging at a wedgie. Is this really the best 21st-century technology can offer?

Underdogs vs. reigning queens?

Though I’m sure we’d all like to see Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings cap off an outstanding Olympic career with an unheard of three golds, I can’t help but feel for Jennifer Kessy and April Ross.

I can only imagine it would be hard to compete in the shadow of legends of a given sport (shall it be dubbed Phelps syndrome?).

But Kessy and Ross have put in an outstanding performance. They beat Brazil’s Larissa Franca and Juliana Silva for the first time yesterday to ensure a U.S. gold/silver placement — having played them nine times in the past without a single victory.

They didn’t drop a set in the quarterfinals.

But with May-Trennor’s announcement that this would be her fourth and final Olympics, Kessy and Ross are sure to be our new volleyball starlets.

Which team are you on? #MTWJ or #KR?

In case you missed it

Truly one of the most astounding high-bar routines ever (from last night):

Black Keys in the Sand

I wonder what accounts for the music differential in the stands: Just heard Black Keys’ “Gold on the Ceiling” during the beach volleyball showdown. Whereas whenever the gymnasts were waiting for their scores, you could hear strains of Katy Perry’s “Firework” and One Direction. That would have driven me bonkers, personally. Thoughts on music for the fans?

When short stature is an asset

As Katie Bell hugged her coach following her last dive, it was hard not to notice the American diver’s petite frame. At 4’11 and 95 pounds, her coach towers over her, but she fits right in with her competitors.

The image made me think I missed my calling. I’m 5’1, which caused my room mate to giggle the other night when I admitted my sincere wish that I had gotten into pole vaulting. However, the high dive seems to favor tiny athletes, so I took a quick look at the stats for some of the top qualifiers.

Mexico’s Paola Espinosa

5’1  and 106 lbs

Malaysia’s Pandelela Rinong Pamg

5’3 and 115lbs

Top qualifier Chen Roulin of China

4’6  and 104 lbs

 

 

This is how to celebrate a gold medal

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/olympics-fourth-place-medal/men-discus-gold-medalist-goes-crazy-celebration-041044200–oly.html

Gymnastics Withdrawal

Are you feeling it? If, like me, you carry a running roll-call in your mind of tiny medalists stretching back an unspeakable number of decades, this may be a tough evening. (Even if one of those awesome platform divers is spotlighted for “the best toe-point in the competition.” It’s just not the same!) So here’s a nostalgic nod to Olga Korbut, star of ’72, who last week marked the 40th anniversary of her golds on beam, floor, and in the team competition by coming to London for an exhibit at the Royal Opera House on the Games: http://www.roh.org.uk/about/the-olympic-journey

 

NBC News and the Olympics

As mentioned here, NBC News threw in big time in covering the Olympics. While the story suggested that something other than news value may have driven NBC News’ coverage decisions (can you say “corporate synergy”?), it’s hard to argue with the ratings results. According to NBC, the first full week of the Olympics gave “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” its biggest audience lead over its primary competitors, ”ABC World News”  and “CBS Evening News” (it averaged 10.85 million viewers a night, more than 58 percent and 97 percent higher than the competish, respectively). Its audience was also higher than what it averaged during the past two Summer Olympics, which is unheard of (ratings have generally declined, year by year).

A helpful NBC News person also points out that the broadcast didn’t skimp on other, non-Olympic coverage, with, for instance, correspondent Richard Engel reporting from inside Syria.

Not bad.

A bold prediction

Without having seen the already completed, tape-delayed and now super-stale results, I will boldly predict that Allyson Felix will take tonight’s marquee track event, the 200-meter race. Felix looked superb in the prelims, and is the top-ranked 200 runner in the world this year. I think she’s unbeatable and will win a long-awaited and much-deserved individual gold. The only mystery is who gets silver and bronze. I’ll take 100 winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica in second, Carmelita Jeter of the good ol’ U.S.A. to show. A great field. It takes one to keep Sanya Richards Ross out of the medals.

Your servers tonight...

Greetings, all, and welcome to your primetime live Olympics blog. I’ll be one of your co-pilots tonight, along with my colleagues Sarah Kaufman and Cara Kelly. And now, without further adieu, and in the immortal words of those poet-philosophers, the Black Eyed Peas, let’s get it started in here…

Team USA Moves Onto Semifinals in Men's Hoops, Terminates Australia

Kobe Bryant was scoreless in the first half and the Australian men’s basketball team crept to within just three points at the outset of the third quarter. But, this being the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament, Bryant and Team USA woke up and delivered a knock-out fourth quarter, dispatching of the Aussies, 119-86, Wednesday night at the North Greenwich Arena.

The United States moves on to the semifinals, where it face Argentina Friday night. Russia meets Spain in the other semifinals to determine who will play in the gold-medal game at 10 a.m. Eastern Sunday.

Bryant ended up leading Team USA with 20 points, while Deron Williams chipped in 18 and Anthony Davis added 17 and Kevin Durant went for 14. Australia’s Patrick Mills led all scorers with 26.

Australia closed the deficit to 56-53 with a 13-0 run to open the third, but it was over after that. Team USA went on its own 13-0 run to push the lead to 109-80 in the fourth.

After one of the worst first halves of basketball anyone could remember in attendance that had covered other international basketball — the U.S. led 56-42– the Americans eventually got back on track with their offensive execution in the fourth quarter.

VIDEO: Raisman, Douglas talk nerves, 'fierce five'

Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman talk about their experiences at the Olympics with The Post’s Sally Jenkins.

Croatia, Sweden advance to men's handball semifinals

Ivan Cupic and Croatia advance to the men's handball semifinals. (Matthias Schrader -- Associated Press)

Right winger Ivan Cupic scored eight times as Croatia rebounded from a halftime deficit to defeat Tunisia, 25-23, in the men’s handball quarterfinals.

Croatia is looking for its third men’s handball gold medal, having won in 1996 and 2004.

Meanwhile, Sweden upset rival Denmark, 24-22, in another quarterfinal after right winger Niclas Ekberg scored two times in the last minute. Denmark defeated Sweden in January in the European championship.

Croatia will play defending champion France in one of Friday’s semifinals, while Sweden takes on Hungary in the other.

VIDEO: U.S. men's volleyball eliminated by Italy

The defending Olympic champion U.S. men’s volleyball team was eliminated by Italy.

U.S. men's basketball leads at halftime

Deron Williams has 13 points and the U.S. men’s basketball team leads its quarterfinal against Australia, 56-42. Williams and Patty Mills of Australia (12 points) are the only players in double figures.

Neither team has shot very well from the field, with the Americans at 43.9 percent and the Australians at 40.5 percent. Team USA was much better than the Australians from the line, shooting 72.2 percent (13 of 18); Australia was at 52.9 percent (9 of 17).

Argentina upends Brazil in men's basketball semis

Luis Scola, Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino combined for 49 points and Argentina held off a furious fourth-quarter charge by Brazil, winning 82-77 at North Greenwich Arena in the quarterfinals of the Olympic men’s basketball tournament Wednesday night.

Argentina now awaits the winner of the late quarterfinal game between the United States and Australia.

Leandrinho Barbosa and Marcelinho Huertas each scored 22 point to lead Brazil. Wizards center Nene Hilario was harassed inside and was ineffective for much of the night for Brazil.

Chen leads 10-meter platform diving prelims

Chen Ruolin of China scored 392.35 points over five rounds to take the lead after the preliminaries of the women’s 10-meter platform diving event. Chen, 19, already has a gold medal in these Olympics in the 10-meter platform synchro event, and also won both titles four years ago in Beijing.

The top 18 advanced to the Thursday morning’s semifinals, including Americans Katie Bell (ninth place with 326.95 points) and Brittany Viola (14th place with 322.55).

Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor win third gold

Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings again win gold in beach volleyball. (Petr David Josek -- Associated Press)

Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor won their third Olympic gold medal in women’s beach volleyball, topping fellow Americans April Ross and Jennifer Kessy in straight sets, 21-16, 21-16.

Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor watched as Ross’s final serve flew too long, and the two began celebrating. The longtime teammates circled the perimeter of the picturesque Horse Guards Parade grounds to greet fans. Walsh Jennings, in tears, was pulled into the stands at one point.

Reese wins gold in women's long jump

Janay Deloach, left, and Brittney Reese celebrate their long jump medals. (Michael Steele -- Getty Images)

Brittney Reese took gold in the women’s long jump, becoming the first American athlete to win the event since Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 1988. She also is the first U.S. athlete to win an officially recognized long jump medal since Joyner-Kersee in 1996 (Marion Jones won bronze in 2000, but she was stripped of the medal after admitting that she used performance-enhancing drugs).

Reese jumped 7.12 meters on her second attempt.

Janay Deloach of the United States took the bronze medal. Russia’s Elena Sokolova won silver.

Walsh and May-Treanor take first set

Misty May Treanor scrambles for the ball in the gold medal final. (Dave Martin -- Associated Press)

Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor captured the first set, 21-16, over fellow Americans Jennifer Kessy and April Ross in the women’s beach volleyball gold medal match..

Walsh and May-Treanor held a slim 15-14 lead before pulling ahead with a 5-1 run.

Walsh and May-Treanor won the last two gold medals in the event.

Americans go 1-2 in 110 hurdles final

Aries Merritt crosses the finish line ahead of teammate Jason Richardson in the 110 hurdles. (Mark Baker -- Associated Press)

Aries Merritt led a 1-2 finish in the men’s 110-meter hurdles, beating U.S. teammate Jason Richardson to the finish in a personal-best time of 12.92. Richardson got the silver medal in 13.04, easily outpacing bronze medalist Hansle Parchment of Jamaica, who crossed the line in 13.12.

Merritt’s time fell just 0.01 of a second short of the Olympic record set in 2004 by China’s Liu Xiang, who stumbled over a hurdle in qualifying and did not make the final.

Cuba’s Dayron Robles, the 2008 Olympic champion and reigning world record holder, pulled up lame with three hurdles remaining and finished last.

Felix finally gets gold in 200

Allyson Felix raises her hands in triumph after finally winning the Olympic 200-meter race. (Matt Dunham -- Associated Press)

Allyson Felix won the gold in the women’s 200-meter final, ending her streak of Olympic silver medals in the event at two. Felix threw her arms in the air after crossing the line in 21.88 seconds, edging Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, who won the Olympic 100 title in 2008.

Carmelita Jeter, who won the silver medal in the 100 final, claimed the bronze, finishing in 22.14. Sanya Richards-Ross, the 400 champion and third American in the field, got fifth place in 22.39.

Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown, who got gold in this event in 2008 and 2004, missed her bid for a third straight gold. She finished in fourth place in 22.38.

Croatia eliminates U.S. water polo in quarterfinals

Croatia jumped out to a 5-0 lead midway through the second quarter and thoroughly dominated the United States in an 8-2 victory, eliminating the American in the quarterfinals.

The United States was hoping to at least match its performance from 2008, when it won silver in Beijing. Croatia is looking for its first water polo medal since winning silver in 1996.

Demus edged in 400 hurdles by Antyukh

Russia's Natalya Antyukh edges American Lashinda Demus at the finish line. (Matt Slocum -- Associated Press)

Russia’s Natalya Antyukh barely held off American Lashinda Demus to win gold in the women’s 400-meter hurdles Thursday night at Olympic Stadium, a race that was in doubt as Demus pushed over the final 25 meters.

But Antyukh lunged at the line to post a time of 52.70 seconds, just beating out Demus, who finished in 52.77. Demus, who won the gold in the event at the 2011 world championships, leaves with silver.

As Antyukh went to hug friends and family in the stands, Demus crouched at the side of the track with tears coming down her face.

Bolt cruises into 200 final, as does Blake

Usain Bolt breezed into the 200-meter final. (David J. Phillip -- Associated Press)

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, on a night when he could further his already burgeoning legend, cruised into the final of the men’s 200 meters, all but jogging the final 50 meters in a time of 20.18 seconds to win his semifinal, the second of Wednesday night, and raising the possibility that his world record could fall in Thursday’s final.

“It’s a possibility,” Bolt said. “The track is fast. We’ll see.”

Bolt scarcely seemed to exert himself in beating South Africa’s Anaso Jobodwana. His time was just the fourth fastest of the night. He said he pushed himself for only the 70 meters.

In the first heat, Bolt’s countryman, Yohan Blake, also waltzed to an easy victory with an even faster time. Blake’s 20.01 seconds came easily. American Wallace Spearmon ran through the finish to nearly catch Blake at the tape in 20.02 seconds. Spearmon also qualified for the final.

“They’re beatable,” Spearmon said of Blake and Bolt, the two favorites.

Churandy Martina of the Netherlands won the final heat in 20.17 seconds, beating Warren Weir, who will be the third Jamaican in the final. American Maurice Mitchell finished fourth in the final heat and did not advance.

Eaton builds lead in decathlon after high jump

Ashton Eaton of the United States still leads the decathlon. (Franck Fife -- AFP/Getty Images)

American Ashton Eaton put forward the second-best effort in the high jump Thursday night and increased his lead in the Olympic decathlon after the fourth event. Eaton managed a jump of 6 feet 8 3/4 inches, which trailed only the mark of 6-11 achieved by Cuba’s Leonel Suarez.

With six events remaining, Eaton stands in first place with 3,698 points.

Five competitors matched Eaton’s effort. American Trey Hardee jumped only 6-6 1/4, losing ground in his quest for the silver medal, but still holding onto second place with 3,537 points.

Belgium’s Hans Van Alphan, who matched Eaton’s jump, was third with 3,489.

Certain condoms yanked from athletes' village

Olympic organizers are reportedly investigating how condoms manufactured by a rival of official Olympic condom supplier Durex made it into the athletes’ village.

The Guardian:

“We will look into this and ask that they are not handed out to other athletes because Durex are our supplier,” said the spokeswoman.

Organisers tightly control which brands can be promoted at the Games, striking sponsorship deals with a limited number of companies and trying to stop non-sponsors from getting free publicity on the back of the Olympics.”

The International Olympic Committee takes sponsorship deals very seriously. Organizers raised more than $1.1 billion from UK sponsors alone and there’s even a “brand exclusion zone” limits the logos that attendees can wear and what they can bring.

According to NPR, it was a tweet from Australian Olympian that alerted Olympic organizers to the presence of the unauthorized prophylactics.

Japan's Icho wins third straight wrestling gold

Kaori Icho accomplished the three-peat in freestyle wrestling. (Yuri Cortez -- AFP/Getty Images)

Kaori Icho of Japan won her third straight Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling, defeating Jing Ruixue of China, 3-0, in the 63kg final. She is the first Japanese woman to win a gold medal in three straight Olympics.

On Thursday, countrywoman Saori Yoshida will look to duplicate the feat in the 55kg division.

Uceny, Rowbury qualify for final of women's 1,500 meters

Morgan Uceny (left) qualified for the final of the women's 1,500 meters. (AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE)

Americans Morgan Uceny and Shannon Rowbury qualified for the final of the women’s 1,500 meters. Both runners competed in the first semifinal heat; Uceny finished third in 4 minutes 5.34 seconds and Rowbury was fifth in 4:05.47. The are among the 12 runners who will compete in Friday’s final.

Ethiopia’s Abeba Aregawi ran the fastest qualifying time, 4:01.03.

American Jennifer Simpson, the reigning world champion, finished last in the second semifinal in 4:06.89 and did not advance.

Gasol on USA-USSR 1972: 'I heard about it'

Informed that Spain is about the only nation that stands between a Russia-United States rematch 40 years after the Americans got jobbed out of a gold medal in Munich — I’m certain the United States will breeze through the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds, so don’t even go there — Pau Gasol had something very important to say about this development:

“Uh….I heard about it,” the center for Spain and the Los Angeles Lakers (and recently Kobe Bryant’s Best Friend Forever) said after Spain shut down France over the final six minutes to advance to the semifinals against Russia.

Told the U.S. team was so torn up and angry after the controversial 1972 loss — in which the Soviet Union was awarded the ball three times after time had apparently expired — that they never claimed their silver medals, Gasol said, “Wow.”

Asked if he cared about such things, he said: “No. Not at all. Zero. All I care about is winning, and moving to the finals and winning a medal for my team and my country.”

So we can pretty much assume Gasol didn’t see the HBO documentary and that he never played for Doug Collins, who still can’t let it go.

Gasol was also asked to respond to his new BFF’s comments regarding Gasol remaining a Laker, as long as Kobe is a Laker. Last week during Team USA’s press conference, Bryant, who spent time with his much-maligned teammate in Barcelona, declared Gasol is going nowhere.

“He’s staying,” Bryant said. “If they want to get rid of them, they’ve got to go through me first. They can’t possibly. As long as I’m there, Pau should be there too.”

Responded Gasol: “He’s not just the best player. He’s the icon of the team. So, obviously, it’s good to know that he’s on my side. That’s important. At the end of the day, who you go to war with are your teammates. That’s a big push.”

So, in Kobe’s dreams, I guess that means Gasol plays power forward and Dwight Howard plays center.

Netherlands tops New Zealand in field hockey semis

Ellen Hoog, in orange, is off to the field hockey gold medal game with the Netherlands. (Leon Neal -- AFP/Getty Images)

Ellen Hoog scored in the fifth and final round of the shootout, giving the Netherlands a 3-1 edge in the shootout and a win over New Zealand in the women’s field hockey semifinals.

The Netherlands, the defending gold medalist, will take on either Britain or Argentina in Friday’s final. The other semifinal starts at 3 p.m.

Maartje Paumen scored both regulation goals for the Netherlands, which has never lost to New Zealand in 18 international meetings. Paumen tied the overall record of 13 Olympic goals with Alyson Annan of Australia.

The match was tied at 2 at the end of regulation, and neither team scored in 15 minutes of extra time.

Richardson, Merritt easily advance to 110 hurdles final

Cuba's Orlando Ortega, American Jason Ricardson and Britain's Lawrence Clarke compete in the semifinals of the men's 110 hurdles. (AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS)

Americans Jason Richardson and Aries Merritt easily won their heats in Wednesday’s semifinals of the 110-meter hurdles and advanced to the final, an impressive showing by the U.S. team that could lead to medals later in the night.

Richardson, the 2011 world champion, won the first heat in 13.13 seconds despite the fact that he coasted the last several strides to the finish line. His best time of the year, and of his career, is 12.98 seconds.

Merritt performed similarly in the second of three heats, posting a 12.94 that was just one hundredth of a second off his personal best, which is also the best of the year.

American Jeff Porter ran in the final heat, and he struggled, running into the final two hurdles as Cuba’s Dayron Robles ran a clean 13.10. Porter, who had a season’s best time of 13.08, managed just a 13.41 and finished fifth in his heat.

Because China’s Liu Xiang crashed out of the event in the preliminary heats, the final could be a decidedly American affair.

The hurdles final will be at 4:15 p.m. ET. Joining Merritt, Robles and Richardson in the field are: Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment (13.14), Ryan Brathwaite of Barbados (13.23), Cuba’s Orlando Ortega (13.26), South Africa’s Lehann Fourie (13.28) and Britain’s Lawrence Clarke (13.31).

And we thought we had basketball rivalries...

Vincent Collet, coach of the French men's basketball team. (AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON)

Vincent Collet, the coach of France’s national basketball team, was very gregarious and informative in the post-game press conference following his team’s loss to Spain, 66-59, in the Olympic quarterfinal. Well, if you were French.

Each time a Spanish reporter asked a question of Collet, he looked at the individual quizzically, mumbled inaudibly, and waited for the French reporters to ask a question. The game was marred by two late unsportsmanlike fouls on the French, including a Ronnie Turiaf hip check of Rudy Fernandez. Spain has had France’s number in international play, beating them at almost every international competition since Pau Gasol joined the team.

“What happened a year ago to Tony Parker?” the Spanish reporter asked. Saying he would not get a fair shake from the Spanish press, Collet refused to answer and kept not answering.

Finally, when the coach said something back to the Spanish reporter, he said, “Well I’m not answering you if you don’t answer me.”

The whole back and forth was uncomfortably hilarious from a non French-Spain perspective.

As Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News said, “And I thought the Mavs and Spurs had a good rivalry going. Hell, we’re not even close.”

Chun wins wrestling bronze for United States

Clarissa Chun wins a bronze medal in 48kg freestyle wrestling. (Lars Baron -- Getty Images)

American Clarissa Chun defeated Irina Melnik-Merleni of Ukraine, 3-0 on points, to take one of the two bronze medals in women’s 48kg freestyle wrestling. It’s the first wrestling medal for the United States at the London Games.

Earlier Wednesday, Chun lost to Mariya Stadnyk of Azerbaijan, but she remained alive for the bronze because any wrestler who loses to one of the two eventual finalists moves into one of two repechage groups. Stadnyk lost to Hitomi Obara in the gold medal match.

Carol Huynh of Canada defeated Isabelle Sambou of Senegal for the other bronze.

McLean High graduate competes for Trinidad and Tobago

Ayanna Alexander competes in the triple jump on August 3. (AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE)

Sometimes there are so many good athletes from the Washington area a few find a way to slip through the cracks.

Take Ayanna Alexander. She finished competing in the triple jump this week, the first triple jumper to represent Trinidad and Tobago at the Olympics. When she noticed a reporter’s press credential from Washington, she instantly flashed back to her Washington Post fame in 1999 at McLean High School.

“I was All-Met honorable mention — I think in the hurdles and triple jump,” Alexander said after finishing 14th in the qualifying round on August 3, just shy of advancing to the final. “I live near Dulles Airport now. I see the Washington Post every day.”

With a local angle secure, we managed to find out Alexander was actually born in Trinidad and came here as a young girl with her family. After McLean, she competed at Louisiana Tech and then began competing for her birth country internationally in 2007.

“First time Trinidad has ever had a triple jumper in the Games, so it’s a historical moment,” Alexander said. “It’s the beginning of bigger and better things. I just celebrated my 30th birthday [on July 20] and our event has a lot of longevity, so I’m looking forward to continue competing.”

Alexander is now in graduate school at Marymount University. She’s finishing her MBA work and working toward her MA in Human Resources. She is one of Trinidad’s 33 athletes, 27 of which are in track and field. After failing to qualify for the final, she said she planned to stay in London, “Be an Olympian, eat what I want, treat myself.”

Competing at the Olympics was nice and all, but her fondest athletic memory prior to actually going to college and becoming an elite level triple jumper? “I remembered when I was featured as athlete of the week when I was in high school in the Post. It was so cool.”

Somebody hire her in the circulation department.

Nicolas Batum explains his low blow

(@BuzzFeed Sports)

Tempers flared at the end of Spain’s men’s basketball quarterfinal win over France after a couple late hard fouls.

France’s Nicolas Batum was one of the guilty parties, and this punch to the vicinity of Juan-Carlos Navarro’s groin nearly sparked an on-court brawl.

Asked why he punched Navarro, Batum told Yahoo Sports reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, “I wanted to give him a good reason to flop.”

You stay classy, Nick.

Spain men's basketball tops France; teams almost brawl

Pau Gasol of Spain splits France's Kevin Seraphin, left, and Mickael Gelabale. (Christian Petersen -- Getty Images)

Marc Gasol scored 14 points, including a layup in the final minute, and the slow-starting Spanish national team finally found its rhythm and heart late, fending off France, 66-59, to advance to the semifinals of the Olympic basketball tournament against Russia.

Spain trailed at the start of the fourth quarter but waited for the French to shoot themselves out of it with errant three-pointers. Tony Parker and Boris Diaw each finished with 15 points for France.

The game was marred by hard fouls and a near brawl in the final minute. It began when former Washington Wizards player Ronny Turiaf was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Spanish guard Rudy Fernandez. Furiously trying to foul as the clock wound down, Turiaf gave Fernandez a slight body check that sent the Spaniard flailing to the floor. (If we’re being honest, the acting was better than the foul was hard.)

Tempers now engaged, France’s Nicolas Batum and several Spanish players began pushing and shoving the next possession before referees sprinted over to separate the two sides before they threw punches.

Spain next faces Russia, which upset the Spanish in group play, on Friday night in the semifinals. The winner will presumably get the United States in the gold medal game. Team USA plays its quarterfinal game against Australia at 5:15 p.m. Argentina and Brazil meet the other quarterfinal.

Guerdat takes individual jumping gold

Switzerland's Steve Guerdat wins gold in individual jumping. (AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL)

Steve Guerdat of Switzerland took the individual jumping gold aboard Nino des Buissonnets Wednesday at Greenwich Park.

Gerco Schroder of the Netherlands won the silver riding the appropriately named London after winning a jump-off over Cian O’Connor of Ireland on Blue Lloyd 12.

Rich Fellers (Flexible) was the top American, in eighth.

VIDEO: Previewing the women's soccer final

The Post’s Steven Goff, who helms the Soccer Insider blog, takes a look at the gold medal women’s soccer match between the United States and Japan.

Who do you think will win the match? Vote in our poll.

U.S. men's volleyball team falls to Italy

David Lee (center) and the U.S. men's volleyball team won't defend its gold medal. (AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV)

The United States’s bid to defend its Olympic gold in men’s volleyball ended in decisive fashion Wednesday. Italy swept the struggling Americans, winning the quarterfinal match 28-26, 25-20, 25-20.

The U.S. entered the tournament ranked No. 5 in the world and cruised to a 4-1 record in group play. But after a tight opening set, the Italians were in the driver’s seat in Wednesday’s quarterfinal match, executing well throughout the match and never giving up momentum earned in the emotional opening set.

In the final set, the U.S. team jumped out to a 6-4 lead, but then Italy went on an 8-1 run to take a 12-7 lead. The Americans clawed their way back, at one point cutting the Italy lead to just two points, 19-17. But they could get no closer.

Italy advances to the semifinals, where it will meet Brazil on Friday, and is trying for its first Olympic medal since taking silver at the Athens Games. The Italians have never won gold.

China completes sweep of table tennis gold medals

Zhang Jike (left) and Wang Hao (right) celebrate during the gold medal match. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

China defeated Korea in straight sets, 11-4, 11-8, 11-6, to win the gold medal in men’s team competition Wednesday. The Germans won the bronze earlier in the day.

Chinese teams swept the gold medals in men’s and women’s table tennis for the second straight Olympics. China has now won 24 of the 28 gold medals awarded in table tennis since the sport entered the Olympics in 1988.

Richardson says record needed to win men's 110 hurdles

Jason Richardson clears a hurdle during a preliminary heat on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

So what exactly will it take to win gold in the men’s 110-meter hurdles, which crowns its Olympic champion later today? American Jason Richardson has a pretty good idea.

“In arguably the fastest Olympic final that we’ll probably ever have in the hurdles, it will probably take a world record. …We definitely have so many capable athletes that in order to come out on top, whomever crosses the tape will pretty much set history,” Richardson said. “I’d definitely love to be that person.”

The semifinals are set for 2:15 p.m. ET and the final will be run at 4:15 p.m.

The world record-holder, Cuba’s Dayron Robles, will be in today’s third semifinal heat. The record is 12.87 seconds, though Robles’s best mark this year is 13.18.

The United States could see two medals in the event. With China’s Liu Xiang out, Aries Merritt and Richardson have accounted for the year’s best times of the competitors in the semifinals. Merritt ran a 12.93 at the U.S. trials, where Richardson posted a 12.98. Robles won gold at the Beijing Games with a 12.93-second finish.

“I’m just progressively getting better,” Richardson said. “That’s definitely the purpose of the training I’ve been going through. I would definitely say this has been an incredible ride.”

A ride he hopes ends later today with a gold medal performance at Olympic Stadium.

Serbia rallies past Australia

Dusan Mandic (right) and Serbia woke up in time to take down Australia (Julio Cortez/AP)

Serbia used a furious fourth-quarter rally to overcome an early deficit and defeat Australia 11-8 in a men’s water polo quarterfinal.

The defending bronze medalists trailed 7-4 at the half but Andrija Prlainovic’s long distance goal midway through the third quarter triggered a 6-0 Serbian run to end the game.

Filip Filipovic had three goals to lead the way for Serbia, which awaits the winner of Italy and defending gold medalist Hungary.

Montenegro edged Spain 11-9 in an earlier semifinal. The United States – which won silver in Beijing – plays Croatia in the last quarterfinal of the day at 3 p.m. EDT.

U.S. men's volleyball team on ropes

William Priddy tries to keep the United States alive against Italy. (Andrew Medichini -- Associated Press)

The Italian men’s volleyball team ran away with the second set of its quarterfinal match, 25-20, and is just 25 points away from eliminating the United States, the defending Olympic champions.

The two squads were knotted at 16-apiece before Italy scored four unanswered points, en route to cruising to a two-set lead.

After managing eight blocks in the opening set, the Americans had only two in the second.

Ashton Eaton tries to improve on decathlon world record

Ashton Eaton competes in the long jump during Day 1 of the decathlon. (AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN DENNIS)

Ashton Eaton leads the men’s decathlon after three events, but there’s still a grueling seven to go, including the high jump and the men’s 400 meters later today. Just how taxing is the decathlon? Eaton was asked last week how his body felt after breaking the world record at the U.S. trials in Eugene, Ore.

“I think it would be similar to falling out of a tree and hitting a few branches on the way down,” he said.

He’ll deal with the pain later. Despite setting the best mark the event has ever seen, Eaton said there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Appearing in his first Olympics, Eaton felt good entering the competition.

“I think it’s a little bit overwhelming at first, just seeing all the Olympic athletes from all the different countries,” he said. “But I’m taking it in.”

Cameroon athletes leave team in possible defection

Thomas Essomba (left) is one of seven missing Cameroonian athletes in London. (Ivan Sekretarev/AP)

Seven Olympic athletes from Cameroon were reported missing earlier this week and team officials believe they may seek asylum in England.

A women’s soccer goalkeeper, one swimmer and the African nation’s entire five-man boxing team have disappeared in what is believed to be the biggest defection at the London Games.

The athletes all have U.K. visas that would allow them to stay in Britain for up to six months, press attaché Emmanuel Tataw told The Associated Press that there’s a good chance the missing athletes don’t intend to return to their home country. Officials believe they may be seeking economic asylum.

“Most of the time they don’t come back,” he said.

Cameroon is one of the poorest nations in the world, with an estimated 2011 economic output of only $1,230 per person, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Read the full story here.

France stuns Spain on handball buzzer-beater

William Accambray of France celebrates his game-winning goal against Spain in the men's handball quarterfinals. (Jeff Gross -- Getty Images)

William Accambray scored with one second left to give defending gold medalist France a 23-22 win over Spain in the men’s handball quarterfinals.

France was down 7-2 after 18 minutes and 12-9 at halftime but scored six straight goals at one point in the second half to get back into it.

France will play either Croatia or Tunisia, who play at 4:30 p.m., in Friday’s  semifinals.

In Wednesday’s earlier quarterfinal, Hungary eliminated defending silver medalist Iceland, 34-33, after two periods of extra time. Mate Lekai of Hungary forced the extra time by scoring with two seconds left.

“It was a lottery in the end,” Hungary Coach Lajos Mocsai said. “We should have won in the normal 60 minutes instead of making such a Hitchcock drama out of it. We clearly were the stronger team.”

Iceland had gone undefeated in group play, while Hungary had lost three times but still managed to make the medal round.

Russia men's basketball continues surprising run

Andrei Kirilenko celebrates Russia's quarterfinal win over Lithuania. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

It’s early, given that Russia still must beat the quarterfinal winner of France-Spain to advance to Sunday’s gold medal game. But Russia has already stamped its reputation as the surprise team of the men’s basketball tournament.

Andrei Kirilenko, who has almost been a decoy for much of the tournament, scored 19 points to lead the Russians to an 83-74 quarterfinal victory over Lithuania in the Olympic tournament. Not only has Russia knocked out a Lithuanian team once thought to be the only serious threat along with Spain to the United States defending their gold medal from Beijing, but the Russians have already knocked off Spain and Brazil, medal contenders, in group play.

Timofey Mozgov had 17 points for Russia, which dominated the boards and played a much more disciplined game than the free-wheeling Lithuanians.

If by chance Russia advanced to the gold medal game, they would presumably play the U.S. 40 years after one of the most controversial endings in Olympic history. The then-Soviet Union defeated the Americans in a game where time was put back on the clock and Russia won over mass protest. To this day, the American players and coaches have not accepted their silver medals.

U.S. men's volleyball falls behind early

Italy's players celebrate winning the first set of their men's volleyball quarterfinal against the U.S. (AFP PHOTO/KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV)

Italy came from behind to grab the first set, 28-26, against the U.S. men’s volleyball team in Wednesday’s quarterfinal match.

Italy trailed by as many as four early, but clawed back and Ivan Zaytsev’s spike gave the Italians a 19-18 advantage. The score remained close from there, though the U.S. team reached set point when the Italians let William Priddy’s deep serve pass through. The officials ruled it an ace — even though replays indicated the serve might have landed beyond the back line — and the Americans took a 24-23 lead.

The U.S. team faced three set points but couldn’t convert, and Italy put the game away on its first set point. The Americans allowed Dragan Travica’s set to pass through, but the ball hit the back line to give Italy the first set.

Clayton Stanley accounted for 6 points for the Americans in the first set.

American fourth in men's BMX seeding run

Connor Fields of the United States was fourth in the men’s seeding run Wednesday at the BMX Track.

Fields’s time was .650 seconds off the lead set by Raymon van der Biezen of the Netherlands (37.779). Frenchman Joris Daudet was second.

Americans Nicholas Long and David Herman were seventh and 15th, respectively.

In the seeding phase, each athlete rides the track once and the results determine the seedings, which ensure the fastest riders don’t meet before the final. The men’s event continues Thursday with five runs of quarterfinal races. Riders receive points for every race.

After three runs, the best two riders from each quarterfinal move on to the semifinals. The remaining riders compete in the final two runs and the best two also advance to the semifinals.

In Friday’s semifinals, riders are divided into two groups and compete in three races. The top four riders from each semifinal group advance to the final, where medals are decided over one run.

Australia leads Serbia in water polo

Australia is halfway to a massive upset in the men’s water polo quaterfinals as they lead Serbia 7-4 at the half.

Jamie Beadsworth and Richie Campbell each had two goals in the first half for the Australians who at 2-3 were the only team with a losing record in group play to reach the quarterfinals.

Serbia, which won bronze in Beijing, is just 2 for 8 on the power play and changed its goalie during the intermission.

Russia beats Lithuania in men's basketball quarterfinal

Russia's Timofey Mozgov (#5) and Andrei Kirilenko are into the semifinals of the men's basketball tournament. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

In the day’s first men’s basketball quarterfinal, Andrei Kirilenko scored 19 points to lead Russia past Lithuania, 83-74. (Here’s the box score from the game, plus a story from the Associated Press.) Russia, which is one of the surprises of the tournament after going 4-1 in pool play, will meet the France-Spain winner in the semifinals on Friday.

The other quarterfinals scheduled today are: Brazil vs. Argentina (3 p.m. ET) and U.S. vs. Australia (5:15 p.m.). France and Spain are scheduled to tip off now.

Video: Attar debuts for Saudi Arabia

Sarah Attar becomes the first Saudi woman to compete in Olympic track and field, wearing a head scarf and finishing last in her 800-meter heat Wednesday.

Aussie woman is fastest in BMX seeding

American Alise Post competes in women's BMX cycling. (Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Caroline Buchanan had the fastest time in the seeding run in the first day of the women’s competition Wednesday at the BMX Track.

The Australian completed her run in 38.434 seconds, with Sarah Walker of New Zealand second in 38.644 seconds.

In the seeding phase, each athlete rides the track once and the results determine the seedings, which ensure the fastest riders don’t meet before the final.

The women move directly to the semifinals, where they will be divided into two groups and compete in three races. The top four riders from each semifinal group advance to the final (also Friday) where medals are decided over one run.

American Alise Post was eighth in the seeding run out of a 16-rider field. She’ll be in the first heat of the semifinals, which includes Buchanan.

Teammate Brooke Crain, 19, failed to finish. USA Cycling tweeted that Crain crashed “but is OK.”

U.S. men face Italy in volleyball quarterfinals

Matthew Anderson, David Amith and David McKienzie defend during a preliminary round match against Tunisia. (ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/GettyImages)

The U.S. men’s volleyball team wasn’t a favorite to medal here, but a win today would move the Americans a step closer to the podium.

The United States faces Italy in a quarterfinal match, after finishing group play earlier this week with a 4-1 record. Italy was 3-2. The American team’s lone black mark was a five-set loss to Russia, which snapped its 11-match winning streak in Olympic play.

Despite winning gold four years ago in the Beijing Games and taking silver in this year’s World League tournament, the U.S. squad came to London ranked fifth.

The U.S.-Italy winner will face Brazil — which beat Argentina, 25-19, 25-17, 25-20, in Wednesday’s first quarterfinal — in the semifinals on Friday. The other quarterfinal matchups today are: Poland vs. Russia and Bulgaria vs. Germany.

Manchester United offers Usain Bolt a tryout

Could Usain Bolt be a dual sport star? (Anja Niedringhaus/AP)

The world’s fastest man playing for the world’s most valuable sports franchise? It’s a match made in marketing heaven.

And if Manchester United gets its wish, two-time 100-meter gold medalist Usain Bolt could be on his way to Old Trafford shortly after the London Games wrap up.

The Red Devils have offered the Jamaican sprinting sensation a “trial,” according to a Yahoo Sports report.

Read the full story here.

Taylor, Adams draw cheers at women's boxing

Ireland's Katie Taylor getse ready for her lightweight semifinal. (Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

The boxing venue at London’s ExCel Center was as deafening as any Beatles concert of old when Ireland’s Katie Taylor stepped into the ring.

Taylor, a four-time world champion, pummeled her way into the gold-medal bout of women’s boxing’s lightweight division with a 17-9 victory. The crowd sang “Fields of Athenry” during her bout.

Also advancing was British flyweight Nicola Adams, with an 11-6 victory.

“I am absolutely over the moon,” Adams said, “and words cannot express how I am feeling.”

Boxer Claressa Shields reaches gold-medal round

Claressa Shields celebrates her semifinal victory in women's boxing. (Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

Only a high school junior, 17-year-old Claressa Shields of Flint, Mich., has emerged as one of boxing’s brightest stars at the London Games, where the women’s discipline is making its Olympic debut.

Shields, ranked 12th in the world, advanced to Thursday’s gold-medal round with a 29-15 victory over Kazakhstan’s Marina Volnova, 23. She’ll face either Li Jinzi of China or Nadezda Torlopova of Russia for gold.

Shields showed no trace of nerves or intimidation, but came out swinging. And she kept punching, even when hung up on the ropes, to win the first round 7-5.

“Stay off the ropes!” a U.S. fan shouted form the stands.

Shields landed a terrific right in the second round, scored 5-3 for the American, putting her up 12-8 at the halfway point.

The third round was Shields’s biggest yet. She landed a punch that dazed her opponent so much it drew a standing-eight count. And she took a 20-11 lead into the final round.

The 5-9 Shields starting boxing at age 11, inspiring by Laila Ali.

Earlier Wednesday, Marlen Esparza of Houston fell to gold-medal favorite Ren Cancan 10-8 in a flyweight semifinal and bows out of the sport’s inaugural Games with a bronze medal.

The 5-3 Esparza fought more aggressively with each round and closed the fourth and final round scored at 2-2, hoping for more. But it wasn’t enough to make up for an earlier deficit

“I can’t be angry about getting any medal at all,” Esparza said afterward, wiping away tears. “But [bronze] wasn’t my goal.”

Sailing: Aussie pair mine gold in 49er

Australia's Nathan Outteridge (right) and Ian Jensen celebrate their gold medal in the men's 49er sailing competition. (AFP PHOTO / WILLIAM WEST)

The Australian pair of Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen won the gold medal in the 49er Wednesday at Weymouth and Porland, handily winning the fleet race by 24 points.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke of New Zealand took silver and Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang of Denmark won the bronze.

Competitors in the 49er sailed in 15 races, accumulating points for each finish. The worst finish of the 15 was thrown out and then the remaining total was used to determine the top 10 sailors, who competed in one medal race. Points from that race were doubled, added to the points from the previous races, and the winner determined.

U.S. women both ousted early in wrestling

American Clarissa Chun lost her second match in 48kg freestyle wrestling Wednesday, 3-0, against Mariya Stadnyk of Azerbaijan.

Chun had advanced from the qualifying round with a victory over Shasha Zhao of China earlier in the day.

American Elena Pirozhkov lost her opening match to Anastasija Grigorjeva of Latvia, 3-1.

Wrestling is a single elimination tournament, but any wrestler who loses to one of the two eventual finalists moves into one of two repechage groups. The repechage group winners will square off for the two bronze medals awarded in this sport.

Eaton holds decathlon lead after three events

Ashton Eaton maintained his decathlon lead after the shot put event. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

Ashton Eaton maintained his lead in the decathlon Wednesday morning despite placing 11th in the shot put with a throw of 14.66 meters (48 feet 1 1/4 inches).

Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Karpov put the shot 16.03 meters (52 feet 7 1/4 inches), winning the event, moving him from 12th to sixth in the competition.

Eaton, who won both the 100-meter run and the long jump, now has 2,848 points. American Trey Hardee closed the gap some, finishing fifth in the shot put at 15.28 meters (50 feet 1 3/4 inches) on his final toss. That gives him 2,743 points, a deficit of 105 points with seven events to go.

Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov sits third, 184 points behind Eaton, the world-record holder from Oregon.

The first day of the decathlon concludes with two more events at Olympic Stadium tonight — the high jump and the 400 meters.

Cuban pole vaulter okay after pole snaps into pieces

Cuba's Lazaro Borges holds the pieces of his pole that broke during the pole vault event. (AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE)

There was a scary moment during the qualification round of men’s pole vault: Cuba’s Lazaro Borges had his pole snap into three pieces while he was attempting to clear a height of 5.35 meters (17 feet 6 1/2 inches). Via The Independent:

To audible gasps in the Olympic Stadium, Borges was sent flying backwards through the air. Fortunately, the 26-year-old was unharmed, although he did appear somewhat bemused.

“It was scary,” Borges told Rachel Bachman of the Wall Street Journal.

Borges did not qualify for Friday’s final in the event.

Esparza drops boxing semifinal, will settle for bronze

Ren Cancan (right) celebrates her victory over Marlen Esparza in the women's flyweight boxing semifinals. (Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

U.S. boxer Marlen Esparza lost 10-8 in a tough semifinal against gold-medal favorite Ren Cancan of China in the semifinals of the Olympic debut of women’s boxing.

Esparza opened the bout with more active hands and reach but had a difficult time landing punches on the 5-5 Ren, who is taller and has a longer reach than the 5-3 American.

Ren took a 3-2 lead after the first round.

After two rounds she led 7-4.

But Esparza won the third round, 2-1, to keep in competitive entering the final two-minute round, with the Chinese leading 8-6.

The final round was scored 2-2 for Ren.

Esparza, who has boxed for 11 years, finishes with bronze in what will be her first and final Olympics.

Two U.S. female boxers in today's semifinals

Marlen Esparza is already assured of at least a bronze medal in women's boxing. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

For the first time in Olympic history, the U.S. men’s boxing team will return home without a single medal.

But two of the three American women who qualified for the Olympic debut of women’s boxing at the London Games are assured of at least bronze. And they’ll try to put themselves in position for silver or gold in today’s semifinals at the ExCel Center.

First up is 112-pound  Marlen Esparza of Houston, who competes in the women’s fly, the lightest of the three weight divisions for women.. She’ll take on the gold-medal favorite in today’s semifinal, China’s Ren Cancan, 24, who won the 2012 world boxing championship.

Later today, 17-year-old Claressa Shields takes on Kazakhstan’s Marina Volnova for a spot in the middleweight finals.

The atmosphere is electric, with Britain’s flyweight Nicola Adams and Ireland’s Katie Taylor, in the lightweight class, an overwhelming favorite for gold, in action.

Germans win team bronze in table tennis

Germany defeated Hong Kong, 3-1, to win the bronze medal Wednesday in the men’s team table tennis event.

Timo Boll won the final match, 9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-9, to secure the win.

China and Korea meet late Wednesday for the gold.

Walker only American to advance in men's pole vault

Brad Walker was the only American to advance to the finals of the men's pole vault. (PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE)

Brad Walker cleared 5.6 meters (18 feet 4 1/2 inches) on his first attempt Wednesday to advance to the finals of the men’s pole vault competition, which will be held Friday.

Two other U.S. athletes failed to move on. Jeremy Scott cleared 5.5 meters, but could not go higher. Derek Miles failed in all three of his attempts at 5.2 meters.

Germany’s Raphael Holzdeppe and France’s Renaud Lavillenie tied for the top qualifying height of 5.65 meters (18 feet 6 1/2 inches).

None of the three Americans in the women’s hammer throw qualifying — Amanda Bingson, Amber Campbell and Jessica Cosby — advanced to the final.

Saudi woman makes track and field debut

Saudi Arabia's Sarah Attar competes in the women's 800 meters preliminaries. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

Sarah Attar, a Pepperdine student with dual Saudi and U.S. citizenship, became the first woman to compete for Saudi Arabia in track and field. She finished last in her heat of the women’s 800 meters in 2 minutes 44.95 seconds on Wednesday.

Last week, judoka Wojdan Shaherkani became the first Saudi Arabian woman to compete in the Olympics. Liz Clarke tells her story here. Also last week, Noor Hussain Al-Malki became the first Qatari woman to compete in track and field when she lined up for the preliminaries of the women’s 100 meters. She pulled up after 15 meters, clutching her leg.

Wednesday's Olympic medal schedule

Here’s a look at the medals that will be awarded Wednesday at the Olympics:

Already completed: Men’s kayak single (K1) 1000 meters, men’s canoe single (C1) 10000 meters, men’s kayak double (K2) 1000 meters, women’s kayak four (K4) 500 meters

8 a.m. Sailing, men’s 49er

9 a.m. Equestrian, individual jumping (9:55 a.m.)

10 a.m. Men’s team table tennis, China vs. Korea, (10:30 a.m.)

2 p.m. Women’s wrestling, 48 kg freestyle (2:03 p.m.), 63 kg freestyle (2:48 p.m.)

3 p.m. Track and field, women’s long jump (3:05 p.m.), women’s 400-meter hurdles (3:45 p.m.)

4 p.m. Beach volleyball, women’s gold medal match (Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh Jennings vs. April Ross/Jen Kessy). Track and field, women’s 200 meters (4 p.m.), men’s 110-meter hurdles (4:15 p.m.).

5 p.m. Taekwondo, women’s 49 kg (5:15 p.m.), men’s 58 kg (5:30 p.m.)

India's 0-5 field hockey team faces criticism at home

Belgium's Alexandre De Saedeleer (left) defends SV Sunil of India during a preliminary round game, won 3-0 by Belgium. (AFP PHOTO/ INDRANIL MUKHERJEE)

India’s men’s field hockey team has won eight gold medals in its Olympic history, but its 0-5 performance in London has newspapers and commentators at home unhappy. Via the Associated Press:

“A new low for Indian hockey: Played 5, lost 5” read a front-page headline in the Hindustan Times on Wednesday. The Hindu newspaper’s headline for its match report read: “National game now a national shame!” …

India, which failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, plays South Africa on Saturday in the match to determine 11th place.

India was the only team to fail to win or tie a game in pool play and was outscored 18-6.

Read the rest of the AP’s story here. Also take a look at this story by The Post’s Anthony Faiola, on how different countries have different Olympic sports that they’re crazy about.

Eaton builds decathlon lead after long jump

American Ashton Eaton has the lead in the decathlon through the first two events. (REUTERS/Phil Noble)

Ashton Eaton, the world-record holder in the decathlon, won the long jump competition Wednesday morning to increase his lead after the first two of 10 events.

Eaton, the Oregonian who is among the favorites here, jumped 8.03 meters (26 feet 4 1/4 inches) on his final jump, good for 1,068 points. That was nearly .4 meters further than the next long jumper, Belgium’s Hans Van Alphen.

American Trey Hardee, the world champion, posted the fifth-longest jump at 7.53 meters.

After the first two events — the 100 meters and long jump — Eaton, who won both events, has a commanding lead with 2,079 points. Hardee is second, 143 points back, with Canada’s Damian Warner in third, trailing by 154.

The shot put is the next decathlon event, scheduled for 8:10 a.m. ET.

Montano, Schmidt, Semenya advance in women's 800

Morocco's Halima Hachlaf, American Alysia Montano and South Africa's Caster Semenya congratulate one another after advancing to the semifinals of the women's 800 meters. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

American Alysia Montano posted the fastest time in qualifying heats for the women’s 800 meters Wednesday morning, finishing in 2 minutes, .47 of a second to advance to the semifinals.

Fellow U.S. runner Alice Schmidt, racing in the second of six heats, placed second in her heat at 2:01.65, tied for the 11th-fastest time of the morning. The top three finishers in each heat, plus the next six-fastest times, advance to Thursday’s semis.

South Africa’s Caster Semenya, the 2009 world champion at the distance, posted the third-fastest time, just behind Montano and Kenya’s Pamela Jelimo, at 2:00.71. Semenya was subjected to gender testing after her performance at the 2009 worlds, and she did not compete again until the summer of 2010. This is her first Olympics.

Farah, Rupp, Lagat, Lomong qualify for 5,000-meter finals

From left, Galen Rupp, Dejen Gebremeskel, Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa and Bernard Legat compete in the men's 5000 meters heats. (AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE)

Britain’s Mohamed Farah, bidding to join an elite group of athletes in a distance double in track, easily qualified for the 5,000-meter finals during heats Wednesday morning, joining his training partner, American Galen Rupp. Veteran Bernard Lagat, the American record-holder at the distance, also advanced to the final, as did fellow American Lopez Lomong.

Farah, racing in the first of two heats, finished third to easily take one of the five automatic qualifying spots. His time of 13 minutes, 26 seconds trailed Hayle Ibrahimov of Azerbaijan and Kenya’s Isiah Kiplangat Koech. It was an easy race; Farah’s time was 33 seconds off his personal best. Lomong was just behind in 13:26.16.

Rupp, who won silver to Farah’s gold in the 10,000 meters on the Olympics’ first weekend, led much of the way in the second heat, which was tightly bunched and much faster. But a group of five athletes broke away over the final lap, and Rupp was left well behind — and had to wait for the composite results of the two heats to see if he advanced. The top-five finishers in each heat, plus the next five fastest times, moved on to Saturday’s final.

Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia won the second heat in 13:15.15, pacing the fastest heat in Olympic history and becoming the quickest qualifier.

Lagat was fourth in the second heat at 13:15.45. Rupp’s time of 13:17.56 also moved him on.

Two golds for Hungary, four medals for Germany

Rudolf Dombi (right) and Roland Kokeny of Hungary react after finishing first in the men's kayak double. (AFP PHOTO / DARREN WHITESIDE/POOL)

Hungary won two gold medals in the flatwater competition Wednesday at Eton Dorney.

Rudolf Dombi and Roland Kokeny won the kayak double 1000m gold, narrowly edging the Portuguese pair, Fernando Pimenta and Emanuel Silva by .053. Germany took the bronze.

Hungary also won the men’s kayak four over Germany, with Belarus taking the bronze.

The Germanys won medals in all four races on Wednesday, winning bronze in the men’s single kayak 1000m and gold in the men’s canoe single 1000m as well.

Sebastian Brendel won the canoe single gold, with David Cal Figueroa of Spain taking silver and Mark Oldershaw of Canada winning the bronze. For Oldershaw, it marked the first medal for his family, which sent grandfather Bert, uncles Dean and Reed and father Scott to the Olympics before him.

In the men’s men’s single kayak, Erik Vera Larsen of Norway won gold and Adam van Koeverden silver.

Eaton takes lead after decathlon 100 meters

Ashton Eaton had the fastest time in the 100 meters in the decathlon competition. (AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG)

The two-day decathlon competition began Wednesday morning, and American Ashton Eaton, the world-record holder in the event, began as expected with the fastest time in the 100-meter run.

Eaton, racing in the third of four heats, posted a time of 10.35 seconds, slower than his personal best of 10.21 set at the U.S. trials in Eugene, Ore., where Eaton went to college at the University of Oregon. That time translated to 1,011 points on the scale that determines decathlon scoring — based on speed or distance, not place in heats or field events.

American Trey Hardee, racing in the same heat as Eaton, ran a 10.42, good for 994 points and second place after one event. Canada’s Damian Warner is third with 980 points after a 10.48 seconds.

Great Britain’s Daniel Awde took 14 hundredths off his personal best in winning the final heat in 10.71, drawing huge cheers from the packed morning crowd at Olympic Stadium.

The next event in the decathlon is the long jump, scheduled for 6:10 a.m. ET.