Lochte captures first U.S. gold; China captures four
LONDON (CNN) — Ryan Lochte captured the United States’ first gold medal of the 2012 Olympic Games, soundly defeating rival U.S. swimming great Michael Phelps on Saturday in the highly anticipated men’s 400-meter individual medley — a race that combines four different strokes.
Brazil’s Thiago Pereira secured the silver medal, while Phelps did not medal, coming in fourth place. Japan’s Kosuke Hagina won bronze.
“I put the work in,” Lochte said after the race. “I’m just going out there and having fun, and doing what I do best.”
Both men had made it through qualifying heats to the final — Phelps only by a whisker.
His subpar performance put the former champion in lane 8 rather than in the preferred middle lanes, where there’s less chance of disruption from other swimmers’ waves.
Lochte was in lane 3.
The 27-year-old Phelps, who already has 14 gold medals from previous Games, had been looking to add to his pot of Olympic gold, but the Games’ attention quickly shifted to Lochte’s dominating performance.
“I know it’s my time and I’m ready,” said Lochte after his win.
History was made soon after, when China’s Sun Yang won the men’s 400-meter freestyle, becoming the first Chinese man ever win an Olympic gold medal in swimming.
And China’s Ye Shiwen made history of her own by breaking the world record in the women’s swimming 400-meter individual medley, with a time of 4:28:43.
American Elizabeth Beisel took the silver medal in the medley.
The Games’ hosts faced disappointment for their own when Hannah Miley, who has been called one of Britain’s best swimmers, finished fifth in the event.
“Apologies if anyone had high expectations of me,” she said after the event. “I gave it everything I had.”
Earlier Saturday, China claimed the first Olympic gold of the games with a victory for 23-year-old Siling Yi in women’s 10-meter air rifle shooting.
“I’m very excited and happy,” she said, quoted by the official Games website. The world’s No. 1, who started shooting at age 13, said there had been “a lot of pressure” on her to perform.
China’s veteran weightlifter Wang Mingjuan, 26, also powered her way to gold, besting silver medalist Hiromi Miyake of Japan by lifting a combined total of 205 kilograms.
“The gold is the reward for my 12 years’ hard work, my dream came true today,” she told Chinese state-run media.
China won four gold medals on Saturday, the most of any nation.
Italy secured two golds, while the United States, South Korea, Brazil, Russia, Kazakhstan and Australia each won one.
The first American medal of the day was a silver, after the men’s archery team fell to Italy in a riveting finals match that wasn’t decided until the final arrow.
Meanwhile, the U.S. women’s soccer team ousted Colombia 3-0 on Saturday, securing themselves a quarterfinal spot.
However, controversy reared its head early, as Albanian weightlifter Hysen Pulaku became the first athlete to be sanctioned for failing an anti-doping test at the London Games.
Pulaku, 20, tested positive Monday for the banned anabolic steroid stanozolol, the International Olympic Committee said, and has been excluded from the competition.
Queen Elizabeth II made an appearance at the Aquatics Center on Saturday to watch the action, having officially declared the Games open the previous night during director Danny Boyle’s raucous, pop culture-themed opening ceremony.
Widely hailed in U.K. media Saturday as showcasing in an inventive, and sometimes eccentric, way what is best about Britain, the show included a short film featuring Daniel Craig, the latest actor to play cinematic British spy James Bond, and none other than the queen herself. It also paid tribute to Britain’s National Health Service and children’s literature, as well as its history.
Team USA’s Dana Vollmer set a new Games best of 56.25 seconds in the qualifying heats of the women’s 100-meter butterfly.
As the first rounds of the tennis tournament began, Swiss star Roger Federer returned to the All-England Club where he won the Wimbledon men’s singles title only three weeks ago.
Meanwhile, Britain’s hopes in Saturday’s 250-kilometer cycling road race, in which newly crowned Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins sought to aid fellow Briton Mark Cavendish to a medal, were dashed as Kazakhstan’s Alexander Vinokourov put in a gutsy sprint to take the gold.
Thousands of spectators had lined the route through the streets of London and along leafy roads in neighboring Surrey to catch a glimpse of the riders racing by. Organizers also predict big crowds on Sunday for the women’s cycling road race, as tickets aren’t needed to watch the action.
Olympic fans, many dressed up in their national colors, packed outdoor viewing areas in Hyde Park and elsewhere to watch the day’s events unfold on a big screen.
The government said in a statement Saturday that plans for the management of crowds, security and transport appeared to be going well so far, including the exit of large crowds from the Olympic Stadium following the late-night opening ceremony.
Concerns had been raised ahead of the Games about the capacity of London’s already busy transport network to deal with the hordes of visitors heading to the Olympic Park and other venues.
Security also became an issue ahead of the Games when the private contractor G4S revealed it could not provide as many security guards as required. The British military has stepped in to fill the gap.
London’s Metropolitan Police said more than 130 people were arrested Friday night as they took part in a mass cycle protest. They are suspected of breaching conditions imposed on the protest to prevent any disruption to Olympic events, police said.
“People have a right to protest, it is an incredibly important part of our democracy,” a police statement said.
“What people do not have the right to do is to hold a protest that stops other people from exercising their own rights to go about their business — that means athletes who have trained for years for their chance in a lifetime to compete, millions of ticket holders from seeing the world’s greatest sporting event, and everyone else in London who wants to get around.”
With more than a dozen venues in London and 10 outside the capital, including football stadiums, ensuring access and security for the many Olympic visitors is no mean feat.
Beijing bronze medal winner Russia defeated Canada on Saturday as women’s basketball started, while later in the day, Team USA routed Croatia by a score of 81-56.
All teams may be trying to keep the U.S. women from winning their fourth straight gold medal. Team USA has played Australia for gold in each of the past three Olympics. Australia, led by 6-foot-5 Lauren Jackson, starts play late Saturday against Team GB.
Women’s football also came to the fore Saturday as the men take a break, with Team GB defeating Cameroon to secure a quarter-final place.
Some 25,000 fans showed up to Wednesday’s match against New Zealand, the biggest attendance for a women’s international match in Britain.
Current FIFA Women’s World Cup holder Japan kicked off against Sweden on Saturday, a game that ended in a goalless draw.