Sunday, August 14, 2016

Rio 2016 Day 7 Summary: Historic night in the pool, Egyptians Farida Osman and Ahmed Akram suffer heartbreak, Ayana smashes world record on the track

* The night session at the Aquatics Stadium was one we're going to remember forever. It literally had everything, upsets, comebacks, and even the first triple-tie in Olympic history. Let me walk you through it.

Remember Anthony Ervin (above), who won a dead-heat 50m freestyle in Sydney 2000 as a 19-year-old? Well, Ervin quit swimming for 10 years, came back, and on Friday, reclaimed the 50 free gold he had won 16 years earlier but this time he didn't have to share it. At the age of 35, he is now the oldest swimmer to win individual gold at the Olympics.

* Michael Phelps swam the very last individual race of his career when he jumped in the pool for the 100m butterfly. It is an event he had won three times in a row and he was looking to sign off with a bang.

After taking four gold medals earlier this week in the 200 fly, 200 IM, 4x100 free relay and 4x200 free relay, Phelps was hoping to go five for five. A 21-year-old from Singapore called Joseph Schooling had other ideas.

Schooling in the photo above was 14 years old when he went up to his idol Phelps to take a picture with him while the American was in Singapore for a training camp en route to the Beijing 2008. On Friday, Schooling beat Phelps with a time of 50.39 seconds, which broke the Olympic record Phelps had set in the 100 fly in Beijing 2008.

If that's not enough of a story, Phelps ended up tying for silver with his rivals Chad Le Clos and Laszlo Cseh, with all three clocking 51.14 seconds.

In his last individual race, Phelps was beaten by a Singaporean he inspired and shared the podium step with two swimmers he viciously battled in some of the most important races of his career.

It's an ending that is equally ironic and poetic - just the way I like it!

* Another unbelievable moment came courtesy of Maya DiRado, who stopped Iron Lady Katinka Hosszu from capturing a fourth gold of the week by catching her at the last millisecond to win the 200m backstroke. It was a stunning race.

* Track and field kicked off with an explosion as we got to witness the greatest 10,000m race in history. Ethiopian Almaz Ayana, running just the second 10,000m of her career, smashed a 23-year-old world record by more than 14 seconds - clocking 29.17.45 - in a race that saw four woman clock the four fastest times in history.
Unfortunately, with the lack of trust in the cleanliness of the sport at the moment, Ayana's performance raised doping suspicions but she insists "I praise the lord, the lord gives me everything. My doping is my training, my doping is Jesus - otherwise I'm crystal clear."

Let's hope that's true.

* Thirty-two years after her father won a silver medal for shot put in the 1984 Olympics, Michelle Carter can now claim family bragging rights after going one better and striking gold here on Friday.

The 30-year-old from California stunned two-time champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand in a dramatic shot put final at Rio's Olympic Stadium, recording a personal best with her last throw of 20.63m.

It was a sensational victory for Carter, a professionally qualified make-up artist who also campaigns to improve attitudes towards body image via a sports-confidence camp called “You Throw Girl”.

Carter is trained by her father Michael, who went on to have a successful career in American football with the San Francisco 49ers after switching from track and field following his silver in the 1984 Games.

“I'll be going around the house saying ‘Yeah daddy - I got you!’. It feels awesome,” a delighted Carter said.

“Me and him have a running joke. I've won more high school championships, he's won more college championships. I always told him it's going to take the cake if I win the Olympic gold, and today it's happened.”

* Rafael Nadal became just the second player, after Nicolas Massu, to win both men's singles and men's doubles gold at the Olympics as he triumphed with his good friend Marc Lopez in the doubles final on Friday, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 over Romanians Horia Tecau and Florin Mergea. Nadal, a singles gold medalist in Beijing 2008, also advanced to the semis in singles, where he takes on Juan Martin del Potro.

* Bahraini 21-year-old Ali Khamis blasted into the 400m semi-finals on the track with the third-fastest time of the night, clocking 45.12 seconds. * Egyptian boxer Hosam Bakr defeated Cameroonian Dieudonne Wilfried Seyi Ntsengue in the 75kg middleweight action to advance to the quarter-finals, where he takes on Mexico's Misael Rodriguez. Bakr is one win away from a medal.

* Saudi Arabia's first female Olympic sprinter Kariman Abuljadayel was in 100m preliminaries action on Friday. She clocked a slow time of 14.61 seconds but that is definitely not the point.

When Saudi was pressured by the IOC in London 2012 to send females or else they'd ban it from the Games, the Saudis conceded and sent Sarah Al Attar (800m) and Wojdan Shaherkani (judo. At the time, I was worried that Saudi Arabia was just doing that to appease the IOC and that in Rio we would barely get any Saudi women at the Games.

But I was wrong. This time, there are four Saudi Arabian women in Rio and Abuljadayel is one of them. I've been getting so many comments about her slow time, but again, that is not the point.

Hailing from a country that does not encourage women to take up sport, Abuljadayel sprinting down the track in Rio, dressed in clothes she is comfortable in, that do not compromise her beliefs is HUGE.

 * Back to swimming, Egypt's Farida Osman and Ahmed Akram both suffered heartbreak in the 50 free and 1,500 freestyle respectively. Osman placed 18th in the heats, missing out on the semi-finals by a mere 0.09 seconds. Her time of 24.91 seconds is a personal best and a new African record.

"I know I was so close to making it back to semis but I'm really happy with my overall performance in Rio. Performing at such a high stage is something I'm definitely proud of. Rio made me very excited for what to come in Tokyo insha2allah," Osman told me in a text message after her race.

Akram, a Youth Olympics champion, placed 11th in the heats to miss out on the eight-man final. His time of 14:58.37 in Rio was slower than the 14:53.66 he swam to place fourth in the final at the World Championships in Kazan last year and set a new Egyptian record.

**Sources include AFP**

1 comment:

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