Franklin becoming USA’s pool teen queen
Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 7:00 pm
By JAY COHEN
AP Sports Writer
LONDON (AP) — There was backstroke dominance for the United States and another impressive French performance during another wild night at the Olympic pool.
American teenager Missy Franklin won the women’s 100-meter backstroke before Matt Grevers led a 1-2 finish for the U.S. in the same men’s race.
Franklin, a 17-year-old from Colorado and best hope for the U.S. program in the post-Michael Phelps era, had a brief 13-minute break after taking the final qualifying spot in the 200 freestyle semifinals before she had to get back into the water for the backstroke final.
Australia’s Emily See-bohm, the top qualifier, led at the turn and was under world-record pace, but Franklin showed a remarkable finishing kick. With her arms twirling, the 6-foot-1 swimmer passed the Aussie in the final 25 meters and lunged toward the wall for a winning time of 58.33 seconds.
Grevers then produced another rally in the men’s 100 backstroke and Nick Thomas made it a 1-2 finish for the Americans, touching for silver in 52.92.
The twin backstroke victories made up for a disappointing performance by U.S. star Ryan Lochte, who faded to fourth in the loaded 200 freestyle — won by France’s Yannick Agnel.
The towering Agnel was in front throughout in perhaps the most star-studded race of these games — even without Michael Phelps, who passed up a chance to defend his Olympic title.
Fifteen-year-old Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania got the win in the 100 breaststroke, holding off a late charge from world champion Rebecca Soni of the United States.
The Chinese won their second straight Olympic title in gymnastics and third in four games after a dismal performance in qualifying.
China’s score of 275.997 points was more than four points better than Japan, which needed help from a replay to finish second.
Britain initially was announced as the silver medalist, setting off raucous celebrations at the O2 Arena, Princes William and Harry included. The British don’t have a proud history in gymnastics, and this was their first men’s team medal in a century.
But Japan questioned the score of three-time world champion Kohei Uchimura on pommel horse, the very last routine. While judges huddled around a video screen, the British partied and Uchimura and his teammates sat stone-faced against a wall.
About five minutes later, Uchimura’s score was revised, with judges giving him seven-tenths more credit for his dismount. Instead of 13.466, he scored 14.166 — enough to move Japan from fourth to second with a total of 271.952. Britain was bumped down to bronze.
There was a familiar sister act at Wimbledon on Monday, with Serena and Venus Williams each advancing in the singles tournament, then combining for a doubles win.
Other major champions to advance in singles included Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, top-seeded Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters, Petra Kvitova, Ana Ivanovic and three-time Wimbledon runner-up Andy Roddick.
Venus Williams waited an extra day because of rain to begin her bid for a record fourth gold medal in Olympic tennis, then defeated recent French Open runner-up Sara Errani of Italy 6-3, 6-1. Serena completed a July sweep of Poland’s Radwanska sisters by beating Urszula in the second round, 6-2, 6-3. She defeated Radwanska’s sister, Agnieszka, in the Wimbledon final this month. Federer also reached the third round, beating Julien Benneteau of France 6-2, 6-2.
“What a good day for fans between me, Venus, Roger and all the other players,” Serena Williams said. “It’s really such a great experience.”
Also Monday, Switzerland stripped a soccer player of his Olympic accreditation after he sent a threatening and racist message on Twitter about South Koreans. The comments by Michel Morganella came hours after the Swiss lost to South Korea, 2-1, on Sunday.
The 23-year-old player said in the tweet that South Koreans “can go burn” and referred to them as a “bunch of mongoloids.”
Swiss Olympic team chief Gian Gilli said via a translator at a news conference that Morganella “discriminated against, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korea football team as well as the South Korean people.
Morganella later released a contrite statement through the Swiss Olympic team: “I am sincerely sorry for the people of South Korea, for the players, but equally for the Swiss delegation and Swiss football in general..”
Morganella is the second athlete kicked off an Olympic team in London for offensive Twitter comments.
Last week, triple jumper Voula Papachristou was kicked off Greece’s Olympic team for her comments on Twitter mocking African immigrants and expressing support for a far-right political party.
Published in The Messenger 7.31.12