London Olympics: Aussie hoighloights Day 5

I woke to carnage. When I went to bed last night, the Poms had finally bagged their first gold medal out at Eton Dorney. That was bad enough. But by the time I got up, they’d dug up another, thanks to Bradley Wiggins and his infernal time trial prowess. Worse, the Poms had moved ahead of Team Down Under on the medal tally.

It fell to our swimmers to stop the rot. Specifically James Magnussen. If only he had fingernails. Because that’s how much he lost it by. One-hundredth of a second faster and he’d be sharing a gold medal with a bloke who looks suspiciously like Harry Kewell, two and he’d be holding it outright. These are the brutal margins of Olympics glory.

Maggie was gracious in defeat, a far cry from his churlish reaction a few nights ago. He admits that over the past few days he’s ‘struggled a bit, learned a lot’ and maybe in the long run, that’s more valuable than gold. Maybe.

It was the biggest day yet on the Olympic calendar with 20 gold medals up for grabs.

Our girls gave it a red hot go in the 4×200-metre freestyle relay to come away with another silver. It’s our preferred hue these Games. Commodity experts will tell you it’s a better investment than gold. We’ve got six of them now, placing us 4th on the silver medal tally, behind China, the US and Germany.

Over at Eton Dorney, Aussie women’s pair Kate Hornsey and Sarah Tait came from nowhere to snatch, yep, a silver from our Kiwi cousins. If there was another 100 metres in it, they might have taken out the fast fading Poms as well. We didn’t medal in the men’s eight but the spectacle of 48 burly blokes churning up the lake certainly made my night. One ticket to Testosterone Central, please.

At Lord’s, the hallowed home of cricket and historically a happy hunting ground for Australia, Taylor Worth caused a boilover in the archery, taking out the world number one, American Brady Ellison, to move into the quarter finals.

The Opals got their basketball campaign back on track, beating Brazil. In the process, Aussie flagbearer Lauren Jackson became the highest point scorer in Olympic women’s history, with 497 goals to her name. The record was news to her.

Our hockey blokes thrashed Spain 5-zip, while over at Wimbledon Lleyton Hewitt, injury free at last and looking like the player of his youth, pushed Novak Djokovic to three sets.

Medal prospect Cate Campbell had to withdraw from the 100 metres freestyle because of crook guts. I blame British catering. Teammate Melanie Schlanger carries our hopes into tomorrow’s final.

As Day Five wraps up, China has extended its lead to 17 gold, ahead of the Americans on 12 (including the one they snatched from James Magnussen), while South Korea has moved into third place with 6 gold. With their two golds, the Poms have moved up to 11th, with Team Down Under snapping at their heels in 15th place.

A bit of perspective

Number of days it took for a country to win gold at their home Olympics:

The Aussies in Sydney: 1

The Greeks in Athens: 3

The Chinese in Beijing: 1

The Poms in London: 5

Shuttlecock shenanigans

 The biggest scandal of the Games to date has erupted, not in weightlifting or boxing as you might expect, but the quaint little sport of badminton. Four women’s pairs from China, South Korea and Indonesia have been sent packing for throwing their matches. Basically, no one wanted to face a particular Chinese team in the quarter finals, so took to serving into the net while the crowd booed its displeasure.

Initially charged with ‘not using one’s best efforts to win a match’, the eight offenders were subsequently shown the door. So they all get their wish of not facing the Chinese favourites. The disqualifications briefly put the Aussies back in the tournament before they bowed out to Canada.

That’s the spirit!

By the time Niger’s Hamadou Djibo Issaka finishes his single sculls race, his fellow competitors are on to their second cuppa. But then, he’s only been rowing for a few months and has done all of his training in a fishing boat. This week was the first time he clapped eyes on an Olympic boat. And fireworks, apparently. Hamadou finished a good minute behind the rest of the field in all of his races and got a rousing reception from the crowd for his efforts. “I don’t have any technique,” he says. “It is all about courage.” Bless.

Did you know?

The various components of the London Olympics logo are supposed to represent the figure 2012. I thought it was two people having sex. Not Russell and Lauryn Mark, obviously, though some suggest it could be Lisa Simpson pleasuring her brother.

As it happens, the logo has attracted a fair bit of controversy over the years. Some claim it spells ‘Zion’ and, if you drink enough and cross your eyes, ‘Nazi’. Iran took all of this quite seriously, apparently threatening to boycott the Games last year because of the logo’s ‘racist’ implications.

I would rather be an Aussie than a Pom

They may be (just) ahead of us on the medal tally but we’ve got it all over Poms in a thousand other ways.

No. 382: We held our Olympics beach volleyball at, you know, an actual beach.

They said it

“That hurts.” James Magnussen

“Are you sure? I guess I’m just old. I’ve been around.” Aussie basketballer Lauren Jackson on learning she’d become the most prolific point scorer in Olympic women’s history

“There are semi-naked women playing beach volleyball. They are glistening like wet otters. The whole thing is magnificent and bonkers.” London mayor Boris Johnson is REALLY getting into the Olympics

“I’m so sick of the water.” Michael Phelps can’t wait to retire

“Depressing. Who wants to sit through something like that?” Olympics chief Sebastian Coe laments the spectacle of badminton players trying to throw their matches. Not that he’s refunding any tickets

“Australia are a great team. They’re going to be really tough. It’s a healthy rivalry and we’ll catch them up.” British Olympic Association Chairman Colin Moynihan was doing really well till the last three words

“We so badly need gold.” My seven-year-old

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