If you Googled the last time Team Down Under had to wait a week between gold medals, it’d come back: Computer says no. Not since shoulder pads and big hair were fashionable and Kylie unleashed Locomotion on the world have we faced such a lean patch in the Golden Roughs department.
Still, our overall medal tally continues to chug along, so much so that if the competition was about most medals won, we’d be lying in 8th place instead of 19th, right on the heels of Germany and France. And on Day 8, Super Saturday as it was called, we brought in our biggest haul yet with four silvers and two bronze.
Eton Dorney presented our best opportunity to break our gold drought. Sitting down and going backwards is not something that gels with the Aussie psyche the way it seems to for Poms. We have to train hard to master this unnatural act, so hard that Oarsome Foursome member Drew Ginn says there can tears at training. Drew has won gold at all three Olympic outings and was fanging for the quadrella today. But it was to be another silver for Team Down Under, as it was for Kim Crow in the single sculls. Their efforts took our silver medal haul into double digits and I’m hearing the world’s largest silver miners are looking to go into partnership with us for the rich seam we have opened up in London.
Erin Densham ran, cycled and swam a bottler of a triathlon. Coming into the last few hundred metres, there were four girls vying for three medals and the Swiss and Swedish contenders would have given Usain Bolt a run for his money in the sprint finish. It took a photo to determine the Swiss winner, as the clock couldn’t separate them. Erin took away a bronze, a miracle in itself considering that just three years ago she was in danger of her heart stopping altogether and had to go under the knife to fix it. Certainly there was no trouble with her ticker today.
As the swimming wrapped up, Team Down Under took the opportunity to snavel two last medals, a silver for the women’s medley relay and a bronze for the boys. Alicia Coutts has emerged as our athlete of the meet, with five medals including our solitary gold, or about a quarter of our tally. Michael Phelps wrapped up his illustrious Olympic career in typical fashion with gold in the medley relay. He’ll have 18 gold medals to look at in retirement, more than twice as many as any other Olympian. Chinese swimmer Sun Yang had a big splashy man blub after winning the 1500 metres, three seconds under his world record mark.
In the long jump, where we were a real chance of gold, Mitchell Watt didn’t get into his groove until his second last jump, which was good enough for silver. He has, however, committed the cardinal sin of losing to a Pom, albeit his best mate on tour. No luck for our discus chucker and former world champ Dani Samuel, who finished towards the tail of the field.
Steven Solomon ran a massive PB to win his 400 metres heat, more than justifying his selection over motor mouth John Steffensen. In the 20-kilometre walk, Jared Tallent butt wobbled his way to seventh place, a good portent for his 50-kilometre pet event. Pole vaulter Alana Boyd gave us all palpitations, leaving it to her last jump to progress to the final.
The Olympic show ponies got into the action in the 100-metre heats, an event where the preening is almost as important as the 10 seconds it takes to get to the end of the track. Defending champ Usain Bolt had a comfortable canter through to the semis, while a couple of blokes threw down sub-10 second times to announce their intentions. The women got down to business with far less fanfare, with Jamaican Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce successfully defending her Beijing crown.
Over at the Pringle, our team pursuit girls finished just out of the medals, while Shane Perkins is through to the quarters of the men’s sprint. World champ Glenn O’Shea is well placed in the omnium, which is basically a heptathlon for cycling, except there are six events. Which makes it a sextathlon, yes? Which is probably why they call it the omnium.
The Hockeyroos had a tricky encounter with the South Africans but came away with a win, thanks largely to some more terrific saves from goalie Toni Cronk. The Boomers bounced back from a 10-point half-time deficit to thrash the Poms in a great display of Aussie pride. Our water polo blokes went down to Croatia and if we progress in that tournament it’ll be by the hair of our chinny chin chins. Our men’s volleyballers were almost giant killers, taking Italy to a fifth-set decider.
Tom Slingsby is guaranteed at least a silver medal in the men’s Laser class sailing. Currently placed first, he has to finish within six places of Cyriot Pavlos Contides, who is about to win his country’s first ever medal in anything.
And some good performances in the horsey high jumps, with Edwina Tops-Alexander, Julia Hargreaves and James Paterson-Robinson all through to the individual final. They’ll also contest the team final with Matt Williams tomorrow.
The Poms won an obscene amount of medals today and the less said about that the better. Team America is still a whisker ahead of China on the medal tally and I can’t remember who’s coming third.
Former 100 metres world champ Kim Collins was to be the first man to run the glamour event in five Olympics. But St Kitts & Nevis officials sent him home for spending the night in a hotel with his wife. An apoplectic Collins tweeted illiterately: “Are you freaking kiddin me” with eight exclamation marks, while others pointed out the harshness of the punishment, considering his wife is also his coach. Collins, who carried the flag for St Kitts in last weekend’s opening ceremony, says he’ll never represent his country again. “I don’t see what is the big deal,” he said. “I am a grown man, I’m just about to become a grandfather.”
And spare a thought for the velodrome cyclist who ended up with an unexpected rectal probe when his saddle disintegrated beneath him. Poor lad didn’t quite know where to put himself.
That’s the spirit!
He’s described as the fastest man on no legs. And today, South African runner Oscar Pistorius became the first double amputee to compete at the Olympics. Oscar, whose legs were amputated when he was a bub, took every available sprinting gold medal on offer at the 2008 Paralympics and has had to fight to compete with the able-bodied dudes. Today he made it through to the 400 metres semi-finals. “I didn’t know whether to cry,” he said. “It was the most amazing experience.”
Did you know?
You might think that putting on a frock and jumping out of a helicopter pretending to be the Queen might be the most audacious thing Gary Connery has done. Not so. That would be jumping from a plane at 800 metres without a parachute. Yup, three months ago he became the first person to try such a thing and live to the tale, with the help of a wing suit and 18,600 cardboard boxes.
Why I’d rather be an Aussie than a Pom
GB: World’s ninth biggest island at 209,331 square kilometres
Australia: Biggest island in the world at 7.6 million square kilometres
Which means you can fit Great Britain into Australia 36 times. And drive more than a couple of hours Down Under without falling off the edge.
They said it
“Number one, baby. All day. Every day.” No argument from me, Usain Bolt
“Now’s not the time for post mortems mid-race. We’re still very positive, we’re still only halfway.” Team Down Under Deputy Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller maintains the rage for Team Down Under
“The work ethic from Australian swimmers is maybe not the same as it used to be.” Former butterfly champion Susie O’Neill laments the attitude of ‘the kids today’
“They seem to be too happy to accept the fact that they’re not doing well.” Former Australian swimming coach Don Talbot also questions the hunger of our Aussie swimmers
“I’m a little bit surprised that I’m good at it. I never thought I would be able to mix it with these girls.” Kim Crow amazes herself at her single sculling prowess
“She’d have stopped a double-decker bus if the South Africans had driven one at her.” A reporter admires the game-saving form of Hockeyroo goalie Toni Cronk
“We feel like we have let Australia and the rowing fraternity and our families down.” Rower Drew Ginn does an Emily Ze Bomb after winning silver in the coxless fours
“Even men in prison get their wives to visit.” St Kitts & Nevis sprinter Kim Collins, expelled for spending the night with his wife
“Aussie man and wife can’t stay together. But bowls of condoms in the foyer of the dorms. Screw who you want but not yr wife.” Someone tweets their support for Kim Collins. Russell Mark, perhaps?