London 2012 - Day 12 - May-Treanor and Walsh unbeatable again

For the third consecutive Games, the skills of Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh proved too strong for their rivals on the beach volleyball court at Horse Guards Parade. The iconic duo, who lost just one set throughout the tournament – to Austria’s Schwaiger sisters in the preliminary round – defeated compatriots April Ross and Jennifer Kessy in two sets (21-16, 21-16) in the final. The Brazilian pair of Juliana Felisberta da Silva and Larissa França collected the bronze after beating Chen Xue and Xi Zhang (CHN) by two sets to one.

A three-time world champion in the 200m, but twice forced to settle for silver behind Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown at the Olympic Games – at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 – the USA’s Allyson Felix (USA) finally achieved her lifetime ambition in London. The American stretched away in the home straight, winning the race in 21.88 seconds and finishing comfortably ahead of 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (JAM) and US team-mate Carmelita Jeter. Her compatriot Brittney Reese was equally impressive in the women’s long jump final, placing herself out of reach of her rivals with a leap of 7.12m in her second attempt. The reigning world champion’s first Olympic title put paid to the hopes of Russia’s Elena Sokolova (7.07m) and fellow American Janay DeLoach (6.89m). The large crowds were enthralled by an exciting finale in the women’s 400m hurdles, as Natalya Antyukh (RUS), a former 400m runner who earned a bronze in that discipline at Athens 2004, held off the challenge of Lashinda Demus (USA) at the line to win in 52.70 and snatch gold by 7/100ths of a second. Zuzana Hejnova (CZE) was a distant third. In the men’s 110m hurdles, American athletes registered a remarkable one-two, as Aries Merritt (12.92) got the better of compatriot and 2011 world champion Jason Richardson (13.04), with Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment (13.12) completing the podium.

At Greenwich Park, Swiss equestrian Steve Guerdat, riding Nino des Buissonnets, was the only competitor to avoid penalties in both legs of the final round, as he secured Olympic gold in the individual jumping. A jump-off was necessary to separate the silver medal contenders, Gerco Schroder (NED) and Cian O’Connor (IRL); the Dutchman and his mount London came out on top to seal second spot.

Women’s boxing was making its debut as an Olympic sport at the London Games, and Day 12 was semi-finals day at the ExCeL, which meant the destination of the bronze medals was determined in each of the three weight categories on the programme. In the flyweight competition (51kg), Great Britain’s Nicola Adams and China’s Cancan Ren overcame Mary Kom  (IND) 11-6 and Marlen Esparza (USA) 10-8 respectively to reach the final. As with the men’s boxing, the losing semi-finalists are both awarded a bronze medal meaning Kom and Esparza became the first ever women’s boxing Olympic medallists. The lightweight category (60kg) saw Tajikistani fighter Mavzuna Chorieva and Brazil’s Adrianna Araujo exit the tournament with a bronze medal, following defeats by Ireland’s Katie Taylor (17-9) and Russia’s Sofya Ochigava (17-11), who pursued their quest for gold. Finally, in the middleweight contest (75kg), Clarissa Shields (USA) and Nadezda Torlopova (RUS) moved on to the final, leaving their beaten opponents, Marina Volnova (KAZ) and Jinzi Li (CHN), with the consolation of an Olympic bronze medal.

China’s table tennis players, having previously mopped up three of the four available golds at London 2012, made sit a clean sweep with victory in the men’s team event. Jike Ziang and Hao Wang (who had locked horns in the men’s singles final) joined forces with Long Ma to dispose of the South Korean triumvirate of Se-Hyuk Joo, Sang-Eun Oh and Seung-Min Ryu by a score of 3-0. Germany, meanwhile, saw off Hong Kong in the bronze medal contest.

Day 12 saw the start of the taekwondo competition at the ExCeL, with the flyweights (49kg for women and 58kg for men) first to fall under the spotlight. In the women’s final, Jingyu Wu (CHN) made light work of Brigitte Yagüe Enrique (ESP), recording an 8-1 triumph. Defeated semi-finalists Chanatip Sonkham (THA) and Lucija Zaninovic (CRO) picked up bronze medals. The men’s showpiece match was a closer affair, which saw Spain’s Joel González overcome Daehoon Lee (KOR) 17-8. Russia’s Alexey Denisenko and Colombia’s Óscar Muñoz Oviedo claimed bronze.

Over at Eton Dorney, attention switched to the flatwater events in the kayak and canoe. Norwegian Erik Veras Larsen surged to the K-1 1000m title, just as he had done at Athens 2004. Canada’s Adam Van Koeverden came second, followed by Max Hoff (GER). In the C-1 1,000m, Sebastian Brendel (GER) put in an equally outstanding display, crossing the finish line nearly a full second ahead of Spain’s  David Cal, with Canadian Mark Oldershaw coming in third. The Hungarian duo of Rudolf Dombi and Roland Kökeny secured gold in the K-2 1,000m, subduing the challenge of the Portuguese (Fernando Pimenta and Emanuel Silva) and German (Martin Hollstein and Andreas Ihle) teams. The women’s K-4 500m crown also went to Hungary, as their quartet of Gabriella Szabo, Danuta Kozak, Katalin Kovacs and Kristina Fazekas overcame Germany and Belarus.

Back at the ExCeL, fans were treated to two exciting women’s freestyle wrestling finals, both of which were won by Japanese contenders. Hitomi Obara was first to get her hands on a gold medal, overwhelming Mariya Stadnyk (AZE) in the 48kg event, in which Clarissa Chun of the USA and Canada’s Carol Huynh earned bronze. Kaori Icho then followed in her team-mate’s footsteps, beating China’s Ruixue Jing 3-0 and 2-0 in the 63kg category. Battesteg Soronzonbold (MLG) and Lubov Volosova (RUS) shared third place on the podium.

Australian sailors Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen steered their way to gold in the men’s 49er class on the waters of Weymouth and Portland. Wins in five of their 15 previous fleet races had put the pair in pole position, and a fourth-place finish in the medal race was sufficient for them to top the standings above New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, and Denmark’s Allan Nørregaard and Peter Lang.

There was no shortage of drama in the quarter-finals of the men’s handball tournament, as France sneaked past Spain 23-22 courtesy of a late winner, Hungary pulled off a last-gasp 34-33 extra-time victory over Iceland, Sweden ousted Denmark 24-22 and Croatia eliminated Tunisia 25-23. In the basketball competition, which had reached the same stage, Russia (83-74 versus Lithuania), Spain (66-59 versus France), Argentina (82-77 versus Brazil) and the USA (119-86 versus Australia) all advanced to the semi-finals. The men’s volleyball quarter-finals all ended in a 3-0 scoreline, with Bulgaria, Russia, Brazil and Italy knocking out Germany, Poland, Argentina and the USA respectively. At the Riverbank Arena, the identities of the finalists in the women’s hockey were determined as the Netherlands overcame New Zealand after a penalty shootout (after the match had finished 2-2), while Argentina joined them in the final by toppling Great Britain 2-1.