Aaron Stern, NBC Olympics
Five takeaways from Day 5 of Olympic action in London:
No. 1: Who knew badminton could be so controversial (or exciting)? Two women’s doubles matches were marred on Tuesday by all four teams trying their hardest not to win so they could have a more favorable opponent in the next round of the round robin tournament; even to the untrained eye it was a pathetic sight. The Badminton World Federation apparently agreed: On Wednesday all eight players – representing two teams from South Korea and one each from Indonesia and China – were ejected from the Olympics as a result. Four previously eliminated teams were returned to the tournament. And maybe badminton just got a little more interesting.
No. 2: Apparently not content to let the most decorated athlete in Olympic history enjoy his moment, Seb Coe decided to publicly declare Michael Phelps to not be the greatest Olympian ever. His point that greatness is subjective and not necessarily linked to quantifiable achievements has merit, but coming from the LOCOG chairman and four-time Olympic medal winner it was a poorly timed statement that smacked of sour grapes.
No. 3: Americans added a couple of big swimming gold medals to their 2012 collection. Nathan Adrian upset Australian sensation James Magnussen to win gold in the 100m freestyle, a race the U.S. hadn’t won gold in since 1988. Then the women followed with a 4x200m freestyle relay begun my rising superstar Missy Franklin and anchored by Michael Phelps’ training partner, Allison Schmitt that won gold and set an Olympic record of 7 minutes, 42.92 seconds.
No. 4: Wednesday was packed with thrills and, ultimately, disappointment for American fencers. Seth Kelsey, the No. 17 seed in the individual men’s epee bracket, stunned No. 1 seed Nikolai Novosjolov of Estonia in the Round of 16, then battled into the semifinals; it was as far as he would get. He lost back-to-back overtime matches in the semifinal and bronze medal matches. Mariel Zagunis, the two-time defending gold medalist in women’s individual sabre who carried the American flag at the Opening Ceremony seemed like a sure thing to challenge for a threepeat. But after taking a 12-5 lead in the semifinal round she melted down and lost 15-13. She then squandered a 9-7 lead in the bronze medal match, losing 15-10. “That’s pretty much how the bouts I lose go—if I lose it’s generally not that they were the better fencer, it’s that I was mentally not there,” she said.
No. 5: And finally, the host country won its first Olympic golds of these 2012 Olympics. With Prince Harry and Prince William watching, Britain’s Helen Glover and Heather Stanning took gold in the women’s pair, furthering the UK’s legacy of rowing greatness. Later in the afternoon cyclist Bradley Wiggins took gold in the men’s time trial to double Team GB’s gold medal haul of these Games.
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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.