London 2012 - Day 5 - Great Britain's first golds

The first final of the day took place on the rowing lake at Eton Dorney, and turned out to be a memorable one for the local fans, as Helen Glover and Heather Stanning powered to victory in the women’s coxless pairs to give Team GB their first gold of London 2012. As the decibel levels rose to a crescendo, the pair produced a brilliant race to finish almost three seconds ahead of their Australian and New Zealand rivals.

There was also joy on the water for Ukraine, whose quartet of Kateryna Tarasenko, Nataliya Dovgodko, Anastasiia Kozhenkova and Yana Damentieva were triumphant in the women’s quadruple sculls final, finishing comfortably ahead of their nearest challengers, Germany and the USA, who took silver and bronze respectively. The Germans fared better in the final of the men’s eight, who got the best of a tight contest with the Canadian and British crews. 

Team GB had further cause to celebrate in the afternoon, as Bradley Wiggins, fresh from his victory in the Tour de France, took to the streets of west London to add a time trial gold to the six Olympic medals he amassed in the velodrome at previous editions. He did so in emphatic style, clocking a time of 50:39.54 for the 44km course, to finish an incredible 42 seconds faster than second-placed Tony Martin of Germany. Wiggins’ fellow Briton Chris Froome claimed the bronze. Meanwhile, the USA’s Kristin Armstrong triumphed in the women’s time trial for the second Games running, completing the 29km course in 37:34.82, 16 seconds faster than her nearest rival, Germany’s Judith Arendt. Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya completed the podium line-up to take the bronze.

In the pool, USA’s Nathan Adrian clinched gold in the  men’s 100m freestyle, touching the wall in 47.52 to see off Australia’s James Magnussen by just one hundredth of a second. Canada’s Brent Hayden finished third in 47.80. In the men’s 200m breaststroke, two-time world champion, Daniel Gyurta of Hungary saw off home favourite Michael Jamieson and Japan’s Ryo Tateishi to take the gold in a new world record time of 2:07.28. In the women’s 200m butterfly, China’s Jiao Liuyang claimed gold and set a new Olympic record of 2:04.06, ahead of Spain’s Mireia Belmonte Garcia and Natsumi Hoshi of Japan. And to round off the day’s action at the Aquatics Centre, Missy Franklin, Dana Vollmer, Allison Schmitt – all of whom had already secured individual golds at London 2012 – teamed up with Shannon Vreeland to win the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay in 7:42.92 – another new Olympic record – ahead of Australia and France.

Japan’s three-time world champion Kohei Uchimura confirmed his status as the best male individual artistic gymnast in the world with a series of stunning displays at North Greenwich Arena. Uchimura, who won silver in Beijing, produced exceptional performances on vault, rings, pommel horse and horizontal bar to record an overall score of 92.690 and claim the gold medal ahead of Marcel Nguyen (GER) and Danell Leyva (USA).

Back at the Aquatics Centre, China underlined their supremacy in the synchronised diving events, completing a clean sweep of all of the available gold medals in London. On the 3m springboard a, Luo Yutong and Qin Kai registered the best scores in five of their six dives, finishing well clear of Russian pair Ilya Zakharov and Evgeny Kuznetsov and the American duo Troy Dumais and Kristian Ipsen.

There was further Chinese domination over at the ExCeL, where the world number one Ding Ning came up against her compatriot and world number two Li Xiaoxia in the women’s table tennis final, with the latter eventually prevailing in a five set thriller. Singapore’s Feng Tianwei joined them on the podium after overcoming Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa in the bronze medal match.

At the ExCeL, French judoka Lucie Décosse – the world number one, and reigning world champion –  swept aside all of her opponents in regal fashion on her way to the final of the women’s -70kg category. She won each of her bouts by ippon, taking just nine seconds to dispatch Colombia’s Yuri Alvear in the quarter-finals. In the final, Décosse was too strong for her German opponent. Kerstin Thiele, and added an Olympic gold to her raft of honours. Alvear shared the bronze with Edith Bosch of the Netherlands. Meanwhile, in the final of the men’s -90kg, South Korea’s Song Dae-Nam overcame Cuba’s Asley González by waz-ari, with Ilias Iliadis of Greece and Japan’s Masashi Nishiyama taking bronze.

In the men’s épée Venezuela’s Ruben Limardo edged his way to the final thanks to a series of narrow victories, but then produced a rampant display to out manoeuvre Norway’s Bartosz Piasecki 15-10 to claim the title. Limardo became Venezuela’s first Olympic champion since flyweight boxer Francisco Rodriguez in Mexico in 1968, and claimed the first fencing gold for a Latin American country since Cuba’s Ramon Fonst won the foil in St Louis way back in 1904!

The bronze in the men’s épée went to South Korea’s Jung Jin-Sun. But his compatriot, Kim Ji-Yeon took gold in the women’s sabre, with a comprehensive 15-9 victory over Russia’s Sofia Velikaya. Two-time Olympic champion, Mariel Zagunis, who was accorded the honour of bearing the US flag at the Opening Ceremony, was squeezed off the podium this time around by Ukraine’s Olga Kharlan, who took bronze.

At the Lee Valley White Water Centre, Italy’s Daniele Molmenti produced a faultless final run to become Olympic champion in the men’s K-1 slalom, ahead of Czech Vavrinek Hradilek and Germany’s Hannes Aigner.

Over at the Royal Artillery Barracks, 19-year old South Korean Jangmi Kim followed up on her gold medal at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, by setting a new Olympic record of 591 in the women’s 25m pistol during qualifying. And she maintained that form going into the final, where she shot a total of 792.4 to outscore defending champion Chen Ying of China and claim the gold. Ukraine’s Olena Kostevych took the bronze.

Back at the ExCeL, Rim Jong-Sim won North Korea’s third gold in the weightlifting, recording a total lift of 261kg in the final of the women’s -69kg category. Romania’s Roxana Cocos took silver. In the men’s competition, China’s Lu Xiaojun clinched gold in the -77kg category thanks to a 204kg lift in the clean and jerk, to give him a total of 379kg. Lu Haojie made it a Chinese one-two, as his total of 360kg was enough to secure silver, while Cuban Ivan Cambar took bronze with a combined lift of 349 kg.

On the courts of Wimbledon, the tennis continued to go to form as the favourites in the men’s singles (Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer ) and the women’s singles (Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Kim Clijsters) all qualified for the quarter-finals.

In the beach volleyball , the two-time champions and hot favourites, Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor of the USA lost a set for the first time in three editions of the Olympic Games! However, they recovered from this blip to overcome Austrian sisters Stefanie and Doris Schwaiger 21-17, 8-21, 10-15. Among the other Day 5 highlights in the team sports was the USA women’s basketball team’s emphatic 89-58 victory over Turkey.