Day 13: Women’s soccer final, track and field, women’s basketball semifinals

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The U.S. women’s soccer team takes on Japan in the gold medal game, hoping to avenge its loss in the 2011 World Cup. Track and field gold medals will be handed out in the men’s triple jump, men’s 800 meters, men’s 200 meters (featuring Usain Bolt), women’s javelin and men’s decathlon. The U.S. women’s basketball team, in search of its fifth straight gold medal, plays Australia in the semifinals.

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 | Day 12

Join in the conversation.

THURSDAY, AUG. 9 (DAY 13)

NBC

10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Synchronized swimming — teams technical routine (Live, 10 a.m.)
Canoe/kayak — sprint gold medal finals in men’s canoe 1000-meter doubles, men’s kayak 1000-meter fours, women’s kayak 500-meter singles and women’s kayak 500-meter doubles (10:45 a.m.)
Swimming — women’s 10-kilometer marathon (JIP, 11:15 a.m., 1 p.m.)
Rhythmic gymnastics — individual all-around qualifying (11:30 a.m., 1:15 p.m.)
Track and field — qualifying runs include men’s 4×400-meter relay (12:15 p.m.)
Women’s water polo — bronze medal match: Australia vs. Hungary (Live, 1:40 p.m.); gold medal match: United States vs. Spain (Live, 3 p.m.)
Men’s beach volleyball — gold medal match: Brazil vs. Germany (Live, 4 p.m.)

8 p.m.-11:05 p.m.
Track and field — gold medal finals include Usain Bolt in the men’s 200-meter dash, the decathlon, men’s triple jump and the men’s 800-meter run
Women’s diving — platform gold medal final
Women’s volleyball — semifinal match: United States vs. South Korea
Men’s cycling — BMX quarterfinals.

12:05 a.m.-1:05 a.m. (Friday)
Women’s volleyball — semifinal match: Brazil vs. Japan
Track and field — women’s javelin gold medal final.

NBC Sports Network

8 a.m.- 8 p.m.
Women’s soccer — bronze medal match: Canada vs. France (Live, 8 a.m.)
Women’s wrestling — 55kg and 72kg weight division qualifying (Live, 10 a.m.)
Taekwondo — qualifying-round bouts (10:45 a.m.)
Women’s basketball — semifinal game: United States vs. Australia (Live, 11:30 a.m.)
Women’s soccer — gold medal match: United States vs. Japan (Live, 2:15 p.m.)
Women’s wrestling — 55kg and 72kg weight division gold medal finals (5 p.m.)
Men’s field hockey — semifinal game: Netherlands vs. Britain (6 p.m.)

MSNBC

9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Equestrian — individual dressage gold medal final (Live, 9 a.m.)
Men’s field hockey — semifinal game: Germany vs. Australia (Live, 11 a.m._
Women’s handball — semifinal match: Norway vs. South Korea (Live, 12:30 p.m.)
Men’s beach volleyball — bronze medal match: Latvia vs. Netherlands (Live, 2 p.m.)
Taekwondo — semifinal matches (3 p.m.)
Women’s basketball — semifinal game: Russia vs. France (Live, 4 p.m.).

CNBC

5 p.m.-8 p.m.
Taekwondo — gold medal finals in women’s 57kg and men’s 68kg weight divisions
Women’s boxing — gold medal finals in flyweight, lightweight and middleweight divisions
Women’s handball — semifinal match: Spain vs. Monte­negro

NBC Olympic Basketball Channel

Noon-midnight: Women’s basketball — semifinal game: United States vs. Australia (Live, noon, replays at 2 p.m., 8 p.m.); semifinal game: Russia vs. France (Live, 4 p.m., replays at 6 p.m., 10 p.m.)

NBC Olympic Soccer Channel

Women’s soccer — bronze medal match: Canada vs. France (Live, 8 a.m., replays at 9:45 a.m., noon); gold medal match: United States vs. Japan (live, 1:45 p.m., replay at 5:30 p.m.)

Telemundo

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

One-two punch in the decathlon

Another one-two finish in track and field – this time for the United States in the decathlon. Ashton Eaton beat out fellow American Trey Hardee by 198 points. Are they the new and improved Dan and Dave? I almost miss those days when Reebok hyped up those decathletes and made them into demigods. Nike then created those uber-popular Dan O’Brien-inspired kicks with the famous bubble heel. Perhaps Eaton and Hardee will get their own winning apparel following these games.

With that, we’re signing off for the night. Thanks for joining!

More Bolt

It’s a Jamaican sweep in the men’s 200m. This isn’t a new world record, but Bolt beats out the rest of the pack by running it in 19.2 secs. Yohan Blake and Warren Weir are second and third, respectively. Bolt is currently talking with NBC about the energy of the crowd. I wonder if other racers will stop their interviews when his nation’s anthem plays for the medal ceremony. Catch this video of Bolt who does likewise for the U.S. anthem during the medal ceremony for Sanya Richards-Ross.

The Usain Games

There have been so many great stories at this Olympics, but is there any question that Usain Bolt is London 2012′s star attraction? His confidence is unmatched but it’s an appealing kind of cockiness. He seems to be having more fun than any other athlete or maybe he’s just looser than the rest of them. Either way, it’s a pleasure to watch.

Some big firsts

China’s Chen Ruolin wins the gold in the women’s platform, while Australia’s Brittany Broben captures silver and Malaysian diver Pandelela Rinong gets the bronze. Rinong, who was also Malaysia’s flag bearer in the Opening Ceremony, is the small South Asian country’s first diving medalist and their first female Olympic medalist.

Splash-o-meter

Chen Ruolin of China getting 9.5s across the board at the Women’s 10m Platform Final, and dominating the green level on the splash-o-meter (similar to a clap-o-meter). Yes, it’s real technology. Check out the Atlantic and Red Bee Media’s post on the scientific splash measurement.

The (very) high dive

Of all the Olympic sports that I’d be afraid to compete in (and it’s a long list) the high dive is right at the top. Just climbing up to that diving platform would terrify me. The only thing that explains why these divers do this is that they are so young they have no idea how incredibly insane what they’re doing is. Instead of commenting on the size of the splash, the announcers should immediately let us know if the diver is still alive. That seems like the right place to start.

Triple Jump, Triple Jump, Triple Jump

I only have one question about the triple jump: Why stop at three? I mean, if you’re going to go beyond the basic long jump, why not really go for it? Maybe 11 jumps? I’m going to start lobbying the IOC for that.

Elite volleyball heights

Most of these American women volleyball players are in the 6 ft or taller range. Do you know the percentage of American women over 6 ft tall? If my sources are correct (and my source is the Google machine) the number is tiny. Just 0.7 percent of American women are six feet or taller. So if my math is right (and there’s no chance it is), the women’s volleyball team includes all but three of the American women who are over 6 feet tall. Amazing!

Volleyball (the good kind)

This will no doubt get me in trouble, but I’d much rather watch full team volleyball than the two v. two beach volleyball brand. I can’t watch beach volleyball without expecting to see the players swigging from a bottle of Bud after every point. The indoor 6 v. 6 feels much more like a sport.

Sebastian Coe amazed by Rudisha's performance

Sebastian Coe, a middle-distance running great and head of the London organizing committee, wasn’t in much doubt about the significance of Rudisha’s race.

“That was simply an unbelievable performance,” Coe said. “David Rudisha showed supreme physical and mental confidence to run like that in an Olympic final.

“Instead of just doing enough to win the race, he wanted to do something extraordinary and go for the world record as well. Rudisha’s run will go down in history as one of the greatest Olympic victories.”

Kenyan runners

I loved that mini profile of the Kenyan runner David Rudisha. I lived in Kenya for five years when I was a kid. Somehow just living there didn’t turn me into a champion runner. Apparently you actually have to work at that kind of thing. I am, however, a very fast typer.

Broadcast starts now

Or, you know, 45 minutes ago. Sorry for the delay, but we had some technological difficulties (that old standby). Please join in. Thanks.

Germans win men's beach volleyball gold

Jonas Reckermann, left, goes up for a block against Alison Cerutti, with Emanuel Rego waiting behind him. (Ryan Pierse — Getty Images)

Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann of Germany scored a 23-21, 16-21, 16-14 win over Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego of Brazil in the final of the men’s beach volleyball tournament, giving Germany (and Europe) its first gold medal in the sport.

A Brazilian team lost in the men’s gold medal match for the third time, following silver medal performances in 2008 and 2000 (though Brazil won gold in 2004).

Eaton wins decathlon, Hardee finishes second

Ashton Eaton throws the javelin in the decathlon. (David J. Phillip — Associated Press)

Ashton Eaton of the United States won the decathlon Thursday, finishing with 8,869 points.

American teammate Trey Hardee finished second at 8,671.

Eaton scored 767 points in the javelin — the ninth event — with a personal-best throw of 61.96 meters. He then finished up his victory by running the 1,500 meters in 4 minutes 33.59 seconds, scoring 721 points.

Eaton set the world decathlon record earlier this year. He is the second straight U.S. athlete to win the decathlon, following Bryan Clay’s gold medal in Beijing.

Leonel Suarez of Cuba finished third with 8,523 points.

Jennings wins taekwondo bronze

Terrence Jennings of Alexandria scored a win on a video replay. (Hannah Johnson — Getty Images)

After losing his first fight of the day, Alexandria’s Terrence Jennings successfully fought his way through the repechage group in the 68kg taekwondo tournament to win bronze.

Jennings, 26, defeated Brazil’s Diogo Silva by a score of 8-5 to claim one of the two bronzes. He needed a successful video review as time expired to win the bout on a three-point head kick that provided the final margin of victory.

After a slow start, Jennings successfully executed a huge four-point roundhouse kick in the final seconds of the opening round, which gave him the fight’s first points. Both fighters got on the scoreboard in the second — Silva on a two-point kick — and Jennings held a 5-2 edge heading into the final round.

In the third, Jennings was able to stave off the Brazilian fighter until late in the round. At one point, Silva requested a video review of what the fighter hoped would be a four-point kick, which would have given him a narrow lead with only 30 seconds remaining. He was not awarded the points, but when fighting resumed, he was able to tie the score and a flurry of fighting as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

Jennings asked for a video review of his own for a three-point head kick as time expired. After mulling over footage, officials ruled the kick was pure, breaking the tie and giving Jennings the win.

U.S. women's soccer holds off Japan for gold

Carli Lloyd scored twice, helping the U.S. women’s soccer team to the gold medal. (Andrew Medichini — Associated Press)

The U.S. women’s soccer team made two goals from midfielder Carli Lloyd hold up against persistent Japan, earning a 2-1 victory in the gold medal match of the Olympic tournament Thursday night at Wembley Stadium.

A sold-out crowd of 80,203 watched as the Americans withstood extreme pressure from the Japanese over the final 60 minutes of the match. After U.S. defender Christie Rampone committed a turnover, American goalkeeper Hope Solo made a diving save on Japanese forward Mana Iwabuchi in the 83rd minute, thwarting the last of Japan’s long list of excellent scoring opportunities.

The Americans have now won four of the five gold medals since women’s soccer was introduced as an Olympic sport in 1996 — a silver at the 2000 Sydney Olympics the only exception.

But this gold is especially sweet for this American squad, which has stewed about a loss on penalty kicks to Japan in the 2011 Women’s World Cup final.

Lloyd was exceptional, scoring once in each half to lift the Americans to a 2-0 lead. Japan scored in the 63rd minute, but couldn’t break through again.

Steffens leads U.S. water polo to first gold

Maggie Steffens scored five goals for the United States in the water polo gold medal match.  (Al Bello — Getty Images)

The U.S. women pulled away from Spain with a four-goal second period and a strong performance by Maggie Steffens, winning their first water polo gold medal in four tries with an 8-5 victory Thursday over Spain.

Steffens scored five goals and finished the tournament with 21.

Trailing 7-2 at the start of the fourth period, Spain’s Jennifer Pareja had a good scoring opportunity but goalkeeper Betsey Armstrong was able to make the stop. The Americans quickly got the ball to the other end of the pool and Steffens converted the opportunity, scoring her fifth goal of the game for an 8-2 lead.

Spain wasn’t done yet. About 90 seconds later, Pareja scored her third goal of the game to cut the lead to five. When Anni Espar scored on a rattling goal, the lead was down to four.

Espar scored again with less than a minute remaining, but it was not too little too late for the Spanish.

Heather Petri, Melissa Seidemann and Brenda Villa also scored for the Americans.

In the bronze medal game, Australia defeated Hungary, 13-11, in two extra periods.

U.S. water polo builds lead over Spain

The U.S. women’s water polo team held Spain scoreless in the third period and added goals by Maggie Steffens – her 20th – and Brenda Villa – to build their lead to 7-2 in the gold medal match.

Steffens had four goals for the U.S. team in the first three periods.

The U.S. women are trying to win their first Olympic water polo gold in four tries.

Japan cuts U.S. soccer lead in half

Yuki Ogimi scored in the second half to cut the United States’ lead to 2-1. (Lefteris Pitarakis — Associated Press)

Japanese forward Yuki Ogimi scored from in close in the 63rd minute, cutting the U.S. lead in the women’s gold medal soccer match to 2-1 at Wembley Stadium.

Ogimi was basically standing at the goal mouth to clean up a mess. Japanese midfielder Homare Sawa — the MVP of last year’s Women’s World Cup — fired a ball that got past U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, but was temporarily touched away by U.S. defender Christie Rampone.

But Ogimi stood on the left side, near the post, and tapped home the rebound for Japan’s first answer. The goal got the loud Japanese portion of the crowd at Wembley, which is packed, back into the game.

Bolt wins the 200, leading a Jamaican sweep

Usain Bolt points to the crowd after his historic victory in the 200 meters. (Gabriel Bouys — Associated Press)

It wasn’t easy, and he didn’t get the world record, but Usain Bolt became the first man to win both the 100- and 200-meter sprints in consecutive Olympic Games with his victory in the 200 on Thursday night.

Bolt finished in 19.32 seconds — slower than his world mark of 19.19 and 2008 Olympic record of 19.30 — holding off late-charging countryman Yohan Blake, who crossed the line in 19.44. Warren Weir made it a medal sweep for Jamaica, finishing in 19.84.

American Wallace Spearmon got fourth in 19.90.

As he crossed the line, Bolt put an index finger to his lips, shushing the crowd, then dropped to the track and pounded out some pushups. He also wrapped Blake, who also got second in the 100 final after beating Bolt in both events at the Jamaica Olympic trials, in a bear hug.

Before the race, as flashbulbs flickered throughout Olympic stadium, lighting it up like a holiday tree, Bolt warmed up wearing a yellow signature cap — marked with his initials — turned backwards. He walked over to one of the credential-wearing volunteers standing on the track and talked to her, placing his hand on her shoulder and causing her to break into a huge grin.

As the stadium announcer finally introduced the race and the competitors, Bolt gave a Miss America wave to the crowd, then dropped his fists to his side and pointed to the camera. For him, the theatrics were a bit understated. Seconds before the start, he put a finger to his lips. Then he crossed himself and pointed to the heavens.

Lloyd's second goal puts U.S. soccer up 2-0

U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd fired a rocket from the edge of the penalty area past Japanese goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto for her second goal of the night, putting the Americans up 2-0 in the Olympic gold medal women’s soccer match.

Lloyd’s strike came in the 54th minute. The play began near midfield, where U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe found Lloyd from the left wing. Lloyd did the rest of the work herself, dribbling up the center of the pitch before firing the shot past Fukumoto.

Moments later, U.S. Coach Pia Sundhage replaced Rapinoe with forward Lauren Cheney.

Americans 1-2 in triple jump finals

Christian Taylor leaps to a gold medal. (Franck Fife — AFP/Getty Images)

Christian Taylor of the United States won gold in the triple jump, with U.S. teammate Will Claye taking silver.

Fabrizio Donato of Italy won bronze.

Taylor scored a best jump of 17.81 meters, and Claye’s best was 17.62.

Steffens leads U.S. water polo to 5-2 lead at the half

Maggie Steffens scored three goals in the first half as the United States built a 5-2 lead over Spain midway through the gold medal game Thursday.

Heather Petri and Melissa Seidemann also scored for the Americans.

Jennifer Pareja had both goals for Spain.

In the bronze medal game, Australia defeated Hungary, 13-11, in two extra periods.

Lopez knocked out in taekwondo

No medal for Diana Lopez of the United States. (Ng Han Guan — Associated Press)

American taekwondo fighter Diana Lopez will not be adding a second Olympic medal to her collection at these Summer Games.

Lopez, who won bronze in Beijing four years ago, was knocked out of the repechage group of the 57kg weight class, losing to Finland’s Suvi Mikkonen, 9-4.

Mikkonen jumped out to a big 6-1 lead in the opening round, a margin that proved too big for Lopez to overcome. Midway through the second, the American had cut it to 6-2 but fell to the mat and gripped her left knee during a break in the action. Lopez continued but favored her hurt knee and was unable to battle back.

U.S., Spain water polo tied after one quarter

Maggie Steffens scored her 17th goal of the Olympic tournament, tying the score at 1 for the United States in the first period of the women’s gold medal game.

Jennifer Pareja had Spain’s goal, which bounced off the goal post and the head of U.S. goalkeeper Betsey Armstrong.

U.S. soccer holds 1-0 lead at half

Hope Solo was busy in the first half against Japan. (Julian Finney — Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s soccer team carried a tenuous 1-0 lead to halftime of the gold medal game against Japan, which carried play for much of the time after Carli Lloyd put the Americans up early.

Lloyd’s header, off a cross from Alex Morgan, came in the eighth minute, and the Americans celebrated wildly. But Japan had no fewer than five outstanding chances over the remaining 37 minutes, with two shots deflecting off the crossbar and one missing the right goal post by inches.

The latter chance, in the 38th minute, came from forward Shinobu Ohno from just outside the 18-yard mark. It was out of the reach of American goalie Hope Solo, but slid wide of the post as well.

In the 42nd minute, the Americans had a decent opportunity when Lloyd touched the ball to herself, freeing up a left-footed shot from outside the penalty area that was smothered by Japanese goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto on a short hop.

U.S. women nearly set Olympic record in 4x100 heats

Not only did they not drop the baton, they nearly broke an Olympic record.

Tianna Madison, Jeneba Tarmoh, Bianca Knight and Lauryn Williams, the 2004 Olympic 100 silver medalist, won their 4×100 relay heat in a blazing 41.64 seconds, just 0.04 of a second behind the Olympic record set in 1980 by East Germany.

Trinidad and Tobago finished second in the heat in 42.31, and the Netherlands finished third in 42.45. In the second heat, Ukraine won in 42.36, edging Jamaica by 0.01 of a second.

Jennings to fight for taekwondo bronze

Terrence Jennings advanced Thursday to the 68kg bronze medal match of the Olympic taekwondo tournament.

Jennings, a 26-year old Alexandria native, scored a 3-2 win over Ukraine’s Hryhorii Husarov to keep his medal hopes alive.

Jennings kicked his way to a 2-0 lead in the opening round and added a point in the second, as Husarov struggled to land a kick. The Ukraine fighter scored two later points in the final round , but it was not enough.

After losing in the opening round of the tournament, Jennings is fighting his way through the repechage group. In Olympic taekwondo, any fighter who loses to one of the two eventual finalists moves into one of two repechage groups. The winners there square off for the two bronze medals.

Jennings advanced to face Brazil’s Diogo Silva later Thursday.

Eaton maintains lead in decathlon after javelin

Ashton Eaton refreshes after a decathlon event. (David Gray — Reuters)

Ashton Eaton tightened his grip on the Olympic gold medal in the decathlon in the ninth event Thursday, putting forward a decent throw in the javelin with only the 1,500 meters remaining.

Eaton notched a throw of 203 feet 3 inches, ninth best among the decathletes, giving him 8,148 points for the day with one of his strongest events coming later Thursday. U.S. teammate Trey Hardee threw farther, 218-8, but remained solidly in second place with a total of 7,997 points.

Cuba’s Leonel Suarez used a first-place throw of 252-5 to move into the bronze-medal position with 7,779 points.

Latvians win beach volleyball bronze

Martins Plavins helped Latvia’s duo win bronze on the beach. (Dave Martin/AP)

Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins of Latvia won the bronze medal Thursday in beach volleyball at Horse Guards Parade, defeating Reinder Nummerdor and Rich Schuil of the Netherlands, 19-21, 21-19, 15-11.

Plavins and Smedins lost only one match in the tournament, to Brazil’s Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego in the semifinals. Cerutti and Rego play in the gold medal match later Thursday.

Plavins and Smedins had beaten the pair from the Netherlands, 2-1, in pool play.

Japan pressures U.S., which holds 1-0 lead

Fans at Wembley Stadium witnessed some intense action in the early going. (Ben Curtis — Associated Press)

With 15 minutes left in the first half, the U.S. women’s soccer team holds a 1-0 lead over Japan, which has put the Americans under constant pressure in the gold medal match.

The United States looked like it might allow the equalizer several times. In the 17th minute, Japanese midfielder Nahomi Kawasumi took a ball down the left wing and found space inside the penalty area. Her shot ricocheted off goalie Hope Solo, then hard off U.S. defender Christie Rampone. Japan’s Shinobu Ohno had one more crack at it before the ball tumbled out of bounds wide of the goal.

A minute later, Japan’s Yuki Ogimi headed a ball high, just above Solo. The U.S. goalkeeper got one hand on the shot and knocked it off the crossbar. The Americans eventually cleared, staving off another outstanding Japanese chance.

In the 26th minute, Japan had an indirect kick from just to the left of the penalty area. Japanese captain Aya Miyama played the ball in, and it ricocheted off U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath. The ball appeared to hit Heath’s hand — which would have resulted in a penalty shot — but the referee made no call, despite Japanese protests.

Moments later, Japanese defender Azusa Iwashimizu nearly scored an own goal.

Chen dominant in winning diving gold

Chen Ruolin demolished the competition in 10m platform diving. (Michael Sohn/AP)

Chen Ruolin led from start to finish to defend her gold medal in platform diving Thursday at the Aquatics Centre, consistently building her lead to win by 56 points.

With the gold out of reach, the divers began scrambling for silver and bronze. After four rounds, just 5.65 points separated the second- and eighth-place divers in the field of 12. Three divers had been in second – Melissa Wu of Australia for the first two rounds, her teammate Brittany Broben for the third and Julia Prokopchuk of Ukraine in the fourth.

Broben’s fourth-round dive, a back 3 ½ somersault, drew a score of 57.75. She needed something spectacular in the final round, and she got it, a back 2 ½ somersault with 1 ½ twists that earned an 81.60 and the silver medal.

Pandela Rinong Pamg of Malaysia took the bronze by 1.1 points over Wu.

Chen, 19, also won gold medals in the synchronized platform event here and in Beijing four years ago.

Chen’s teammate Yadan Hu, 16, won the silver in this event last year at the world championships but started with a 54.00 and her second dive was worse, netting just a 43.20 and putting her last in the field, a spot in which Chinese divers seldom find themselves. Her final two dives were among the best of the day by anyone, moving her into ninth, but it was too little, too late for medal contention.

No Americans qualified for the final.

Rudisha wins 800 gold, sets world record

David Rudisha celebrates after breaking his own world record in the 800 meters. (Morry Gash — Associated Press)

A world record fell at the Olympic Stadium Thursday night — and it wasn’t Usain Bolt who did it. Kenya’s David Rudisha lowered his own world mark in the 800 meters, taking the lead early in the event he has dominated for three years and cruising to his first Olympic gold medal.

Rudisha threw his arms in the air after crossing the finish in 1 minute 40.91 seconds, 0.10 of a second faster than his world record. Botswana’s Nijel Amos was second in 1:41.73, and Kenyan Timothy Kitum got the bronze in 1:42.53.

Rudisha’s father, Daniel, won an Olympic silver medal in 1968 as part of Kenya’s 4×400 relay team.

Americans Duane Solomon and Nick Symmonds both set personal bests in the blazing final. Solomon finished fourth in 1:42.82; Symmonds got fifth in 1:42.85.

Semenya first in women's 800 semifinals

South Africa’s Caster Semenya celebrates after competing in the women’s 800 semifinals. (AFP PHOTO / OLIVIER MORIN)

South African Caster Semenya posted the top time in the women’s 800 semifinals Thursday, easily advancing to Friday’s finals.

Semenya, who was controversially subjected to gender testing after winning the world title in the event in 2009, ran a season-best time of 1 minute, 57.67 seconds in her heat, crushing the field.

Russian Elena Arzhakova finished second in the heat and overall with a time of 1:58.13; Kenya’s Janeth Jepkosgei Busienei was third best with a time of 1:58.26.

American Alysia Johnson Montano, a native of Queens who finished fourth in the event at last year’s world championships, also advanced with the fourth-best time, 1:58.42.

Lloyd gives U.S. soccer a 1-0 lead

Carli Lloyd pulled her best Abby Wambach impression early in the U.S. women’s soccer team’s gold medal game against Japan, heading home a cross in the eighth minute to put the Americans up, 1-0.

Lloyd shot from the top of the penalty area just as Alex Morgan’s cross appeared headed for Wambach, who is known as one of the best players with her head in the world.

The Japanese have not yet threatened U.S. goalie Hope Solo.

Jennings back in taekwondo medal contention

Despite losing his opening-round taekwondo fight, Alexandria’s Terrence Jennings still has a shot at leaving London with a medal.

Servet Tazegul defeated Jennings, and because the top-ranked Russian fighter advanced to the gold medal contest the 68kg weight class, Jennings is back in the tournament. Taekwondo is a single-elimination tournament, but any fighter 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.

Jennings will face Hryhorii Husarov and would need to win two fights to earn a bronze.

In the women’s 57kg class, American Diana Lopez is also in the repechage round and will meet Finland’s Suvi Mikkonen.

Claressa Shields: next Olympic star?

Tomi Obaro weighs Claressa Shields’ chances for ending up on a cereal box.

U.S. soccer, Japan set for gold medal match

Women's Soccer

Click the above image to meet the U.S. women’s team.

Wembley Stadium is starting to fill up in the half hour before the U.S. women’s soccer team looks for a measure of revenge, redemption — something — against Japan in the gold medal match. The United States, of course, lost in penalty kicks to Japan in the final of last year’s Women’s World Cup, and many of the players said in the past week that they carried the feeling from that loss here.

One note: U.S. midfielder Shannon Boxx, a veteran who hasn’t played since the opening game of the Olympic tournament because of a hamstring injury suffered that night, is listed in the starting lineup for tonight’s game.

Kickoff is at 2:45 p.m. ET. Check back here for updates throughout.

VIDEO: U.S. volleyball advances to final

The U.S. women’s volleyball team defeated South Korea for a spot in the gold medal game.

VIDEO: Pistorius, South Africa reinstated in relay finals

Oscar Pistorius and his South African relay teammates have been reinstated into Friday’s 4×400 relay final after their appeal was granted. Read the full story here.

U.S. women advance to another basketball final

Tina Charles (center), shut down Liz Cambage (right) as the U.S. rallied past Australia in the second half. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

The United States women’s basketball team is back in the gold medal game for the fifth straight Olympics after a 86-73 win over Australia. But in a tournament they have dominated, the Americans got all they could handle from the Aussies.

Australia – which lost the U.S. in each of the last three gold-medal games – led by six points entering the fourth quarter, led by a first-half scoring explosion from 6-8 forward Liz Cambage.

But with top-scorer Diana Taurasi on the bench in foul trouble, Lindsay Whalen scored six straight points to trigger a furious fourth-quarter rally.

Taurasi and Tina Charles scored 14 points apiece to lead the offense, but it was the Americans’ smothering defense in the second half that turned the tide.

Cambage was 8 of 12 from the field in the first half but attempted only one shot in the second as the U.S. held her scoreless.

“I just took it really personal,” Charles said of the matchup with Cambage in a post-game television interview on NBC Sports. “I’m a tough player and I just wanted to go out there and stop her.”

Australia shot 60 percent in the first half but was held below 30 after the break.

“I think we took their best shot,” said Sue Bird, who scored 13 points and stepped up with Taurasi on the bench. “They played as good as they can in the first half.”

The U.S. has now won 40 consecutive games in Olympics competition, but this was bar far their toughest test of the tournament. Their closest margin of victory before today was a 25-point win against Croatia. The Americans await the winner of tonight’s second semifinal between Russia and France.

Said Bird: “Hopefully this woke us up.”

Russian synchro swimmers flip into first

Russia's eight-member synchronized swimming team is in first place after Thursday's preliminaries.( REUTERS/Michael Dalder)

Nearly perfect sync, a fantastic dual flip and great height propelled a confident Russian synchronized swimming team into first place in today’s technical round.

The Russians, whose duet team won gold in Wednesday’s medal competition, earned a score of 98.1 — rather comfortably ahead of China’s 97 points.

In third, however, the buffer is not as comfortable. Spain, which won the silver medal in the duet competition earlier this week, finished just 0.8 behind China, whose duet team ended up with the bronze.  Look for the two to battle each other, once again, for the silver medal in Friday’s competition.

The eight teams — each consisting of eight women — will take today’s scores into tomorrow’s medal round. That competition will be a free round, in which the teams will be allowed to show more creativity with fewer technical restrictions and requirements.

Still, the highlight of today’s competition was Canada’s charming and creative soccer-themed routine. The soccer-ball-shaped hats had to be approved by FINA (the Fédération Internationale de Natation, which sets aquatic competition rules), according to Swimming World magazine’s Web site. Canada’s women landed in fourth place with 94.4.

Earlier this week, Brazil’s duet team wore brain-themed hats.

Brazil's duet team, using their brains. (Fabrice Corrrini/Getty Images)

And speaking of creative, you, too, can synchronize any Olympic sport. Instructions here.

Wrestling: Campbell loses 55kg repechage match

Kelsey Campbell lost her repechage match to Yuliya Ratkevich of Azerbaijan, 5-0, ending her chance at a bronze medal in the 55kg freestyle division.

Campbell lost her first match of the day to Saori Yoshida of Japan, 3-0. But Yoshida advanced to the gold medal final, putting Campbell in the repechage round. Ratkevich lost to Yoshida as well, but in the quarterfinals.

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 square off for the two bronze medals awarded in this sport.

Yoshida will face Tonya Lynn Verbeek of Canada for the gold.

U.S. women pulling away

The United States defense has finally figured out Australia’s Liz Cambage and they now lead 73-62 early in the fourth quarter.

Cambage, who led all scorers with 19 first-half points has yet to score after the intermission.

Meantime Tina Charles and Seimone Augustus have picked things up on both ends for the U.S., which has won gold in the last four Olympic Games.

Sailing moved to Friday due to light winds

Light winds at Weymouth and Portland forced the postponement of the men’s 470 medal race and the cancellation of the Elliott 6m women’s match racing for fifth to eighth places.

The men’s 470 will be held Friday (7 a.m. ET); the women’s 470 medal race is scheduled one hour later, although light winds are forecast again.

The women’s Elliott placement races will not be rescheduled.

Australia leads U.S. women at the half

The U.S. has found no answer for Liz Cambage in the paint. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

Is this the year Australia finally snaps the United States’ run of dominance in women’s basketball? They’re only two quarters away from pulling off the upset.

Led by Liz Cambage’s first-half rampage (as the NBC Sports commentator rightfully dubbed it), the Australians lead Team USA 47-43 at the half.

Cambage, a 6-8 forward with range, has 19 points on 8 of 12 shooting to lead Australia, which is shooting 60 percent from the field. The Australians are pushing the pace, and despite 10 turnovers, they have the U.S. playing on their heels.

Sue Bird has 10 points and Maya Moore scored 7 for the U.S. which has won the last three gold medals in women’s hoops. Team USA has not lost in the Olympics since 1992.

VIDEO: IOC to strip Hamilton of Athens gold

Claressa Shields wins boxing gold for U.S.

Claressa Shields celebrates after winning a gold medal in women’s boxing. (AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI)

Just 17 years old, Claressa Shields captured the United States’ first gold medal in women’s boxing with a commanding performance in Thursday’s Olympic middleweight title bout.

She outscored Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova, 19-12, to claim the decisive win for the United States — the lone gold medal in a sport in which the American men historically have done well. (This is the first Olympics with women’s boxing.)

Fighting in the 165-pound category, each fighter was able to sneak through some clean shots in the opening round, and judges scored the first two minutes even, 3-3. Shields was more active in the second, utilizing her jab more effectively and won the round, 7-4.

As Torlopova appeared to slow in the third, Shields remained the aggressor, winning the third, 5-3 and taking a 15-10 lead. Shields outscored the Russian 4-2 in the final round to close out the victory.

Shields, a high school junior out of of Flint, Mich., was one of the few bright spots for the U.S. boxing team. The only other boxing medal for the Americans also came from the women’s ranks, a bronze for Marlen Esparza.

Shields, ranked 12th in the world, had advanced to the gold-medal bout with a 29-15 victory over Kazakhstan’s Marina Volnova in Thursday’s semifinals.

Fielders, Herman make BMX semifinals

Connor Fields of the United States leads the pack in BMX. (Matt Rourke — Associated Press)

Americans Connor Fields and David Herman were among 16 riders who advanced to the semifinals in the BMX Thursday.

Fields and Raymond van der  Biezen of the Netherlands had the fewest points – fewer is better – and advanced to the semifinals after three rounds.

There are five quarterfinal heats. Riders receive points for every race. After three runs, the best two riders from each quarterfinal move on to Friday’s semifinals. The remaining riders compete in the final two runs and the best two also advance to the semifinals.

American Nicholas Long did not advance.

Duchess of Cambridge takes in synchronized swimming

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, watches women’s team synchronized swimming. (Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, watches women’s team synchronized swimming. (Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge, watched Russia dominate synchronized swimming.
Kate Middleton, wife of Prince William and Duchess of Cambridge, watched Russia dominate synchronized swimming.

Duet champs Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina helped the Russians rack up a near perfect score of 98.1 Thursday in the team event.
Duet champs Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina helped the Russians rack up a near perfect score of 98.1 Thursday in the team event.

Russia has won past three Olympic golds.
Russia has won past three Olympic golds.

China had 97.0 points and Spain 96.2 points in their technical routines.
China had 97.0 points and Spain 96.2 points in their technical routines.

Medals will be handed out after Friday’s free routines.
Medals will be handed out after Friday’s free routines.

You have just witnessed synchronized writing.
You have just witnessed synchronized writing.

(Credit or blame Ray Frager, formerly of Baltimore Sun and now of ComcastSportsNet, for this post. He had me laughing out loud when he did this during the Barcelona Games. But then, I have a warped sense of humor.)

Australia leads U.S. women after first

Lauren Jackson and Australia are giving the the Americans all they can handle. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

The Australian women’s basketball team came to play today for their semifinal game against the United States.

The three-time defending silver medalists lead the U.S. 22-20 after a first quarter in which they pushed the tempo and forced the Americans to run at their pace.

Elizabeth Cambage has 10 points to lead the Aussies, who shot 56 percent from the field in the opening quarter. Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Maya Moore have four points apiece for the U.S.

Croatia gave the U.S. its toughest test to date in the tournament, and the U.S. still won by 25. This one looks like it’s going to be much, much closer.

Ireland's Katie Taylor wins lightweight boxing gold

Ireland’s Katie Taylor (left) trades punches with Sofya Ochigava of Russia. (Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

Ireland’s Katie Taylor has drawn enthusiastic crowds all week to the ExCeL Center for her lightweight boxing fights, and on Thursday she gave the fans exactly what they had been waiting to see. Taylor, a four-time world champion and five-time European champion, defeated Russia’s Sofya Ochigava on points, 10-8, to claim the gold medal.

Taylor, 26, dropped to her knees when the decision was announced and the crowd of 16,000 roared. She rose to her feet, did a little dance, and then grabbed the Irish flag and took a lap around the ring.

This is Ireland’s first gold medal of the London Games and first gold medal in any sport since the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Britain's Nicola Adams wins first women's boxing gold

Nicola Adams celebrates winning the gold medal in women’s flyweight boxing. (Scott Heavey/Getty Images)

Britain’s Nicola Adams defeated Ren Cancan of China in decisive fashion, 16-7 on points, to claim the women’s flyweight title — the first gold medal awarded to a female boxer in Olympic history.

Adams’s victory in the inaugural women’s boxing tournament was fought before a raucous crowd at the ExCeL Center. It also drew quite a response on Twitter:

Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister:

 

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London:

 

Jake Humphrey, BBC Sport:

 

British riders win gold, bronze in dressage

Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin celebrates with her gold medal for individual dressage. (Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Charlotte Dujardin of Britain won her second gold medal of the Games Thursday in individual dressage at Greenwich Park.

Dujardin, aboard Valegro, scored 90.089 points, putting a good-sized gap between her and silver medalist Adelinde Cornelissen (Parzival) of the Netherlands.

Britain’s Laura Bechtolscheimer (Mitral Hojris) won the bronze. She and Dujardin were among the riders who took team gold for Britain earlier in the Games.

Another Brit, Carl Hester (Uthopia), was fifth.

The only American in the individual final, Steffen Peters (Ravel), finished 17th out of 18 riders.

U.S. women advance to volleyball gold medal match

The Americans celebrate winning a point in their semifinal against South Korea. (AFP PHOTO/KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV)

The U.S. women’s volleyball team needed 75 minutes to sweep South Korea, 25-20, 25-22, 25-22, in the semifinals and advance to the gold medal match for the second straight Olympics. The Americans, who are 7-0 in London, will play the winner of the Brazil-Japan semifinal on Saturday.

An ace by Jordan Larson gave the U.S. a 23-21 advantage in the third set, and then kills from Destinee Hooker and Logan Tom finished off the match. Hooker finished with 21 kills for the U.S.; Kim Yeon-Koung, who entered the match with more kills (146) than any other player in the tournament, had 18 for South Korea.

The U.S. has never won a gold medal in women’s volleyball. The Americans lost in the final to Brazil in 2008 and to China in 1984.

Eaton builds lead in decathlon following pole vault

Ashton Eaton competes in the pole vault during the decathlon competition. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

American Ashton Eaton tumbled onto the mat with a grin on his face, knowing the height in the pole vault that he had just achieved — 17 feet, 3/4 inches — would leave him in excellent position for the Olympic gold medal in the decathlon.

With two events left in the decathlon, Eaton expanded his first-place lead over fellow American Trey Hardee with a near-perfect afternoon in his sport’s diciest event, where he retired after making six of seven attempts, missing only once at 16-8(3/4).

“We’ve seen people’s [dreams] be made and broken with the pole vault,” Eaton said. “Once the pole vault is over, then you can kind of determine where you stand.”

Eaton received 972 points for the effort, lifting him to 7,381 overall. Hardee, who missed three times at 16-4(3/4) after getting over on his second attempt at 15-9, earned just 849 points, putting him 222 points back with the javelin throw and 1,500 coming later Thursday night.

In third place stood Germany’s Rico Freimuth with 6,927. Canada’s Damian Warner had 6,916. Chile’s Gonzalo Barroilhet dominated the pole vault, winning  with a jump of 17-8(1/2). Eaton’s effort was the third-best of the day.

Eaton said his coach urged him to stop just a touch below the height at which he set the world record (17-4(1/2)) in Eugene, Ore., in June. They figured he was in great shape for the gold, and didn’t need to expend further energy.

“My coach was like, ‘Okay, let’s just be done,’” Eaton said. “Frankly, I’m pretty tired anyway. Vaulting takes the most energy of all of the decathlon events.”

U.S. wrestlers lose, but Campbell still in medal hunt

Saori Yoshida of Japan and Kelsey Campbell of the United States grapple in the 55kg freestyle tournament. (Quinn Rooney — Getty Images)

Saori Yoshida of Japan defeated American Kelsey Campbell in her first elimination match Thursday in the 55kg division, 3-0, then advanced to the gold medal final, putting Campbell in the repechage round and giving her a second chance at a medal. She’ll face Yuliya Ratkevich of Azerbaijan, who lost to Yoshida in the quarterfinals.

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.

Yoshida will face Tonya Lynn Verbeek of Canada for the gold.

Ali Sue Bernard lost her opening match in the 72kg freestyle to Jenny Fransson of Sweden, who later lost, ending Bernard’s day.

Canada's tribute to soccer?

Canada performs during the team technical portion of synchronized swimming. (AP Photo/Tim Donnelly)

Perhaps it was a tribute to their gutsy women’s soccer team, which scored a late goal to beat France and claim the bronze medal. Whatever the inspiration, the eight women on Canada’s synchronized swimming team performed their technical routine today wearing sequined caps patterned to look like soccer balls. The routine opened with one of the swimmers feigning a kick, causing another to do a forward roll off of the pool deck into the water.

The Canadians earned a score of 94.400 and are in fourth place, behind Russia (98.100), China (97.000) and Spain (96.200). The free routine is Friday.

U.S. women take two-set lead in volleyball semifinal

Yeon-Koung Kim spikes the ball, but the U.S. has a two-set lead over South Korea. (Elsa/Getty Images)

The U.S. battled to take a two-set lead, 25-20, 25-22, over South Korea in its women’s volleyball semifinal. Destinee Hooker leads the Americans with six kills.

The winner faces either Brazil or Japan, which meet in the second semifinal, in the gold medal match on Saturday.

Mexico's Dos Santos to miss soccer final

Mexican forward Giovani dos Santos will not play in Saturday’s men’s soccer gold medal match against Brazil, according to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl.

Dos Santos was subbed out of Mexico’s semifinal win against Japan only minutes into the second half due to an unspecified muscle injury.

The 23-year-old leads his team with three goals in the tournament, tying him for third among all goal scorers. Without him, Mexico will need an offensive boost from its bench to keep pace with Brazil’s lethal attack. Raul Jiminez and Javier Cortes – whose stoppage time goal sealed Mexico’s 3-1 win – came through as second-half substitutes against the Japanese and both will likely see action against heavily-favored Brazil.

Crash-filled start to men's BMX quarterfinals

Italy’s Manuel de Vecchi (left) goes to the ground as the pack crashes on the berm during men’s BMX quarterfinals. (Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Quarterfinal races are underway in men’s BMX, and there have been a handful of crashes, much to the delight of those watching at home.

Scenes from rhythmic gymnastics, plus other Day 13 events

olympic mascots

 

GALLERY: Click on the image above to see photos from today’s competition at the Olympics.

VIDEO: Katie Ledecky returns home

Swimmer Katie Ledecky is back home in Bethesda with the gold medal she won in the women’s 800 meters. SB Nation caught up with her:

Read more about Katie Ledecky and her high-achieving family in this Sally Jenkins column.

Zetlin 22nd after first day of rhythmic gymnastics

Julie Zetlin is in 22nd place at the end of the first day of rhythmic gymnastics qualifying. (Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Bethesda’s Julie Zetlin achieved a career goal in making the cut for the 2012 Olympics. But the lone U.S. competitor in rhythmic gymnastics faces an enormous challenge to qualify for Saturday’s final.

After two of four mandatory events were contested Thursday, Zetlin, 22, stood 22nd among 24 competitors, with a score of 48.200 out of a possible 60.000. The other two events will be contested Friday.

Russia’s Daria Dmitrieva leads qualifying with 57.800 points.

Only the top 10 among 24 gymnastics will advance.

Zetlin received marks of 24.450 for her ball routine and 23.750 for her hoops routine. Daughter of a former Hungarian junior champion, Zetlin has trained as a rhythmic gymnast since age 4 and endured multiple knee injuries to achieve her dream of competing in the Olympics.

She has proven in international competition that she’s capable of higher marks than she scored Thursday. But in each of her two routines, the apparatus slipped out of her hands, and she was deducted points for execution. Zetlin composed herself quickly in both instances. And judges ranked the artistic components of her routines high.

She’ll return to Wembley Arena Friday, hoping to finish strong with the ribbon and clubs.

Canada grabs bronze with late goal

In a reversal of fortune, Canada found a last-minute game-winner. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

After Tuesday’s devastating last-minute loss to the United States, Canada’s women’s soccer team faced the prospect of walking away from the London Games empty handed.

But with a bit of late magic of their own, the Canadians salvaged a bronze medal with a 1-0 victory over France in the third-place match.

Diana Matheson scored against the run of play in the second minute of injury time to give Canada its first team medal at the Summer Olympics since its men’s basketball team took silver way back in 1936.

Led by Christine Sinclair’s brilliant hat trick, the Canadians out-played the United States for much of Tuesday’s semifinal but Alex Morgan’s last-minute header prevented a decisive shootout and left Canada reeling.

Now they’ll bring home a tangible reminder of an impressive run in London.

France dominated for much of the match, commanding 54 percent of possession and out-shooting Canada 25-4 on the day. The French had the first 18 shots of the second half, including several near misses, but they failed to put the ball into the net.

 

Diana Lopez falls in opening round of taekwondo

Diana Lopez fights China’s Hou Yuzhou (in red) in women’s 57kg taekwondo. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

American Diana Lopez lost to two-time world champion Hou Yuzhou of China in the opening round of the women’s 57-kilogram taekwondo competition. Lopez won a bronze medal in Beijing, and there’s a chance she could still fight for a bronze today, depending on how far Hou advances in the tournament. Read more about the bout in this Associated Press story.

Zetlin's struggles continue with hoops routine

Julie Zetlin performs her hoop routine. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)

Julie Zetlin’s struggles continued on Day One of qualifying for the Olympic rhythmic gymnastics final Thursday, with the Bethesda native losing the grasp of her hoop three times during the second of two routines.

Judges scored her 23.750 out of a possible 30.000 for an elegant hoops routine, favoring its artistry (8.250) over its difficultly (7.400) and execution (8.100).

She faces a tough challenge to qualify for Saturday’s final.

Earlier Thursday Zetlin earned 24.450 for her ball routine, which was marred by an uncharacteristic early error, with the ball getting away from her momentarily.

With her performance on hoops, Zetlin is 17th among 24, but her standing will drop as the remaining gymnasts complete their routines.

Only the top 10 scorers advance. And Zetlin has two more routines, with the ribbon and clubs, which will be contested Friday, to lift her marks inside the top 10.

The hoops is one of the Olympic sport’s four mandatory apparatus, along with the ball, ribbon and clubs. And hoops routines are intended to show off a gymnast’s flexibility, balance and leaping ability.

Zetlin displayed her signature jumping skills, but the timing of her tosses was off.

With a handful of gymnasts yet to compete, Russia’s Daria Dmitrieva leads with 57.800, earning 29.000 for her hoops routine.

Defending Olympic champion Evgeniya Kaneava is second (57.625). And Liubou Charkashyna of Belarus is third (56.450).

U.S. sailing to review program after poor performance

The U.S., which has won more sailing medals (59) than any other country in Olympic history, failed to win a single one at the London Games. (Clive Mason/Getty Images)

After failing to win a single medal — its worst performance since 1936 — U.S. sailing officials are promising an extensive review of their program. Via the Associated Press:

“I was a little surprised, and, like all American sailors, disappointed,” [U.S. Sailing President Gary] Jobson said. “The question for me is, what do we do about it? I can’t predict how the review will go, but I can tell you it’s going to be thorough. This isn’t going to stand long-term.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Risztov wins women's open water swim; Anderson second

Hungary’s Eva Risztov (left) celebrates after holding off Haley Anderson to win the women’s open water swim. (Clive Rose/Getty Images)

American Haley Anderson made a strong push at the end of the women’s 10,000-meter open water swim, but ran out of space to catch Hungary’s Eva Risztov. After nearly two hours of racing in The Serpentine, the gold medal was decided by four-tenths of a second.

Risztov touched the overhead board at the finish line just ahead of Anderson, winning gold in 1 hour, 57 minutes, 38.2 seconds. Anderson took silver in 1:57.38.6 and Italy’s Martina Grimaldi won bronze (1:57.41.8).

Britain’s Kerri-Anne Payne, the defending world champion, finished fourth, to the disappointment of the crowds that lined the banks of course in Hyde Park.

Dmitrieva leads qualifying; Zetlin 22nd

Russia’s Daria Dmitrieva has the early lead in rhythmic gymnastics qualifying. (REUTERS/Mike Blake)

After the first of the day’s two rotations in qualifying for the Olympic rhythmic gymnastics final, Bethesda’s Julie Zetlin is 22nd among 24 competitors.

She’ll have a chance to raise her standing later today, when she performs with the hoop.

No medals will be awarded today or when qualifying continues Friday, with performances with the ribbon and clubs. After all four rotations, the top 10 gymnastics advance to Saturday’s final.

Zetlin scored 24.450 for her ball routine. She’s capable of better, but lost control of the ball on her opening sequence though recovered impressively to compete the routine. Out of a possible 10.000 for each facet of her score, Zetlin earned 8.400 for her routine’s artistry, 8.150 for its execution and 7.900 for its difficulty.

Russia’s Daria Dmitrieva leads with 28.800 points. Defending Olympic champion Evgeniya Kaneava is second (28.100), and Yeon Jae Son of Korea is third (28.075).

Pistorius's medal hopes suddenly restored

Ofentse Mogawane of South Africa receives assistance after a collision during the heats of the 4×400 relay. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

After reviewing the collision between Kenya and South Africa in the men’s 4×400 heats Thursday morning, the Jury of Appeal for the world track and field governing body (IAAF) advanced South Africa to the final even though the team did not finish its race.

That decision kept alive the Olympic medal hopes of double-amputee Oscar Pistorius, which just an hour before seemed to be over.

Read the full story here.

Thursday's Olympic medal schedule

Here’s a look at the gold medals that will be awarded Thursday at the Olympics (all times ET):

Already completed: Men’s canoe double (C2) 1000m, men’s kayak four (K4) 1000m, women’s kayak single (K1) 500m, women’s kayak double (k2) 500m.

7 a.m. Swimming, women’s 10km marathon

11 a.m. Women’s boxing, flyweight Ren Cancan of China vs. Nicola Adams of Britain (11:30 a.m.), lightweight Katie Taylor of Ireland vs. Sofya Ochigava of Russia (11:45 a.m.)

12 noon Women’s boxing, middleweight American Claressa Shields vs. Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova (12:15 p.m.)

2 p.m. Track and field, men’s triple jump (2:20 p.m.); women’s diving, 10m platform (2 p.m.); women’s soccer, U.S. vs. Japan (2:45 p.m.); women’s wrestling, 55kg (2:03 p.m.), 72kg (2:48 p.m.)

3 p.m. Track and field, men’s 800 meters, men’s 200 meters (3:55 p.m.); women’s water polo, U.S. vs. Spain (3 p.m.)

4 p.m. Track and field, women’s javelin, men’s decathlon (4:20 p.m.); men’s beach volleyball gold medal (Brazil vs. Germany)

5 p.m. Taekwondo, women’s 57kg (5:15 p.m.), men’s 68kg (5:30 p.m.)

Sailing: Light winds postpone racing

Light winds at Weymouth and Portland Thursday postponed the men’s 470 medal race and the Elliott 6m women’s match racing for fifth to eighth places.

Forecasters have been predicting winds below five knots. However, the light southeast winds have been variable, so racing could start later in the day if on-the-water officials feel it is possible.

Any decision to cancel the day’s races would be made late in the afternoon.

The men’s 470 could held Friday. If the women’s Elliott 6m for fifth to eighth places is canceled, it would not be rescheduled.

Zetlin recovers from glitch in ball routine

Julie Zetlin performs her ball routine during rhythmic gymnastics qualifying. (AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX)

Rhythmic gymnast Julie Zetlin of Bethesda had a somewhat rocky Olympic debut this morning with her ball routine on Day One of qualifying for Saturday’s individual all-around final.

She recovered nicely from an early error, though, in which she lost control of the ball, to earn a score of 24.450 out of a possible 30.000. Zetlin drew her highest marks for the routine’s artistry. That placed her 17th among the 18 competitors to have gone.

Three panels of judges award a maximum 10 points each for difficulty, artistry and execution.

Zetlin, 22, will return to the mat later today to compete with the hoop.

Only 10 of the 24 gymnasts will advance to Saturday’s final. Qualifying concludes Friday with the ribbon and clubs.

With all but six performers remaining in the first rotation, Russia’s Daria Dmitrieva leads with 28.800 points. Defending Olympic champion Evgeniya Kaneava, considered the sport’s queen, had a rare glitch, muffing a catch during a complex hoop routine, yet is second (28.100). And Yeon Jae Son of Korea is in third (28.075).

Rhythmic gymnastics made its Olympic debut at the 1984 London Games and has been dominated by Russians and gymnasts from republics of the former Soviet Union.

Rhythmic gymnasts are taller than traditional gymnasts, astoundingly flexible and trained in classical ballet, performing on demi-pointe like ballerinas.

Hardee closes gap on Eaton in decathlon

Trey Hardee is closing the gap on fellow American Ashton Eaton in the decathlon. (AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE)

Trey Hardee gained significant ground on Ashton Eaton in the race for the decathlon gold medal and title of “World’s Best Athlete” with strong performances Thursday morning in the 110-meter hurdles and discus throw, one of Eaton’s weakest events.

Trailing Eaton, the world record holder, by 220 points after five events Wednesday, Hardee, a two-time world champion, closed the gap to 99 points by the time the pole vault got underway Thursday afternoon.

The javelin throw — another weak event for Eaton — and the 1,500, one of his strongest, remained Thursday night.

In the discus, Hardee produced the third-best throw of the morning, a heave of 158 feet, 4 inches. Eaton, meantime, managed just 139-6, only 22nd best of the morning.

Earlier, Hardee had edged Eaton in the 110 hurdles, putting up the top time of the morning (13.54) while Eaton got second-best (13.56).

Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasynov sat 298 points behind in third place with 6,111, leaving the duel for the gold medal to the Americans.

Fall in relay ends Pistorius's medal hopes

Oscar Pistorius reacts after South Africa’s 4×400 relay team failed to finish. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

A collision that felled a South African runner during Thursday’s heats of the 4×400 relay ended the Olympic medal hopes of Oscar Pistorius, who never got to run his leg in the race.

Pistorius stood awaiting the baton for the third leg when the approaching Ofentse Mogawane collided with Kenyan Vincent Mumo Kiilu and tumbled to the track, never reaching Pistorius to complete the handoff. Pistorius held his head in his hands when he realized what had happened.

“I will remember this moment for the rest of my life,” Pistorius said. The Olympics “have been absolutely phenomenal, but it would have been nice to have had another run today. It’s tough.”

Pistorius, a double-amputee who competed in the heats of the individual 400, hoped for a medal on the South African team, which won the silver at last year’s world championships in Daegu.

“I feel so sorry for my teammates,” Pistorius said. “It’s so disappointing because we came second in the world championships last year. We have been training as a group for five or six years and we are gutted.”

Mogawane said he believed he had dislocated his shoulder when he fell to the ground. He said runners got too close together and he got pushed on his leg.

“My heart,” he said, “is broken into a thousand pieces.”

Bolt's hopes for four golds gone

Jamaica’s 4×400 relay team failed to complete the Thursday morning heats when one of its runners pulled up lame, ending Usain Bolt’s hopes of competing for a possible fourth gold medal in the event’s final.

Bolt, the 100 meter champion, will be seeking his second gold in the 200 final Thursday night. He will also compete on Jamaica’s 4×100 squad and had considered giving the 4×400 team a go.

But Jermaine Gonzales pulled up with an apparent injury on the third leg, unable to finish the race.

“I feel sorry for him,” said Errol Nolan, who was slated to run the anchor leg. “I am not going to put him down or anything, he tried. I am still proud of him.”

That left Jamaica’s speedy squad without a spot in the final. The U.S. squad that included Manteo Mitchell, Joshua Mance, Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nellum tied for the best time of the morning, finishing in 2 minutes, 58.87 seconds.

The team from the Bahamas also finished in 2:58.87.

Zetlin opens qualifying for rhythmic gymnastics final

Rhythmic gymnastics is to Russia what beach volleyball is to the United States: The Olympic sport that just keeps giving one gold medal after another.

So Bethesda’s Julie Zetlin faces fierce competition when rhythmic gymnastics gets under way shortly at Wembley Arena.

Zetlin, 22, has already achieved her goal by qualifying for the London Games. She’s the only American among the 24 gymnasts vying for the individual all-around title.

Only 10 advance to Saturday’s final, and the next two days of qualifying will cull the field, with gymnasts performing with two of four mandatory apparatus each day.

Zetlin, whose mother was a junior champion in her native Hungary, competes with the ball and hoop today. Friday, it’s ribbon and clubs.

While wildly popular in Russia and throughout Eastern Europe, rhythmic gymnastics is little known and often mocked in the United States. But it’s a rigorous athletic discipline that incorporates dance, music and theatrics.

Russia’s Evgeniya Kanaeva, considered the sport’s queen, is favored to repeat as the individual Olympic all-around gold medalist. Her toughest challenge will likely come from compatriot Daria Dmitrieva. Russia has won the last three Olympic golds in the individual and group competitions.

Here are some rhythmic-gymnastics basics:

Routines are performed to music and must be 75-90 seconds long.

In addition to difficulty, routines are judged on their execution and artistry. The highest possible score is 30; 28 is deemed excellent; 26, good.

The term “ongoing relationship” is used to describe the rapport judges look for between the athlete and her apparatus during a routine.

In seamless motion, gymnast will toss, catch leap and pirouette while performing with the apparatus. Zetlin is an exceptional leaper, with a theatrical flair.

Following Tuesday’s training session at Wembley, Zetlin exulted: “I love it! The bright, shiny lights! It’s like I’m on Broadway!”

China's Chen leads platform semifinals

China’s Chen Ruolin performs during the women’s 10m platform semifinal. (REUTERS/Toby Melville )

Defending gold medalist Chen Ruolin was the top diver in the platform semifinals, easily moving through to Thursday afternoon’s final (2 p.m. ET) by outscoring her next-closest competitor by nearly 48 points.

Chen, 19, also won gold medals in the synchronized platform event here and in Beijing four years ago.

Meaghan Benefit of Canada was second in qualifying, followed by two  Australians, Brittany Broben and Melissa Wu.

The top 12 divers in the semifinals advance to the finals. Americans Brittany Viola (15th) and Katie Bell (16th) failed to advance.

Germans, Hungarians dominate sprint racing

Germany’s Peter Kretschmer and Kurt Kuschela (L) compete to winning the gold medal in the canoe double (C2) 1000m men’s final A. (AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN)

Germany won two golds in four sprint races Thursday at Eton Dorney, and Hungary won three medals overall.

Peter Kretschmer and Kurt Kuschela won gold in the canoe double 1000m, with brothers Andrei and Aliaksandr Bahdanovich of Belarus taking the silver and Russians Alexey Korovashkov and Ilya Pervukhin the bronze.

Germany’s other gold came in the women’s double kayak 500m, with Franziska Weber and Tina Etze edging Katalin Kovans and Natasa Doucev-Janics of Hungary. Karolina Naja and Beata Mikolajczyk of Poland were third.

World champion Danuta Kozak of Hungary won gold in the single kayak 500m, ahead of Inna Osypenko-Radomska of Ukraine, the gold medalist four years ago, and Bridgitte Hartley of South Africa.

Australia won the men’s kayak four, with Hungary winning another silver and the Czech Republic taking the bronze.

There were no Americans in any of the finals.

Terrence Jennings falls in taekwondo opener

Terrence Jennings (in red) battles Turkey’s Servet Tazegul in the preliminary round of the men’s 68 kg taekwondo competition. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Terrence Jennings’s gold medal dream ended after just one match in the Olympics taekwondo tournament.

Jennings, a 26-year old Alexandria native, lost an 8-6 decision to Turkey’s Servet Tazegul in the tournament’s preliminary round Thursday morning. It was a tough draw for Jennings, as Tazegul is the world’s No. 1 ranked fighter and the reigning world champion in the 68kg category.

The two were even in Rounds 1 and 3 (4-4, 1-1), but Tazegul kicked his way to a 3-1 advantage in the decisive second round.

The Olympics aren’t necessarily over for Jennings. If Tazegul reaches the gold medal match, Jennings enters another tournament against other fighters who’ve lost to the finalists for a chance at a bronze medal.

Jennings qualified for the Olympics at the U.S. trials in March, unseating Mark Lopez, who won silver at the Beijing Games.

Note to Canada: Clowns are creepy

Yes, the Canadian team of Marie-Pier Boudreau-Gagnon and Elise Marcotte scored an impressive 94.62 with their synchronized swimming routine in Wednesday’s duet finals. They almost won a medal.

But I’m hoping no small children or adults with recurring nightmares were in the Olympic Park’s Aquatics Centre to hear the creepy “Once Upon a Time” tune and witness the clown-motif swimsuit.

Canadian synchronized swimmers -- or demon children? (Canadian Press)

Okay, the Canadian press called it a “jester theme” and the New York Times preferred “mime.”  But pretty much everyone agreed on the creepy part.

 

Synchronized swimming is a pretty weird #Olympics sport & Canada’s jester routine takes it to the next level of creepy. #London2012

— Sarah Karp Ward (@sarahkarpward) August 8, 2012

On Tuesday, Canada and every other synchro team was laid to waste by the Russian duet. But the Russian costumes fared no better on the creep-out scale. In fact, hardly anyone was safe from Twitter critics.    

Synchronized swimming? More like demon birthing 2012 twitter.com/LydiaTommo/sta… — Liddy Tomlinson (@LydiaTommo) August 8, 2012

 

These Olympic synchronized swimming contestants make me feel better about clowns. twitpic.com/ah0xi4 — Newworld E. E. (@NewworldEE) August 8, 2012

 

Whenever I watch synchronized swimming, I get overwhelmingly uncomfortable.. — RJ Layton (@rjlayton10) August 8, 2012


Here’s a closer look at the synchronized swimming costumes worn Tuesday. The Russians, Canadians and six other teams compete in the preliminary free routine on Thursday morning, ahead of Friday’s medal finals. Be prepared for more hilarity.