American Jenn Suhr poses with the U.S. flag after winning the women's pole vault gold medal Monday.
US judoka expelled from Olympics for doping
LONDON — American judo fighter Nick Delpopolo was expelled from the Olympics for doping Monday, saying he unintentionally ate something before the games that had been baked with marijuana.
Delpopolo is the first of the 10,500 London Games athletes to fail an in-competition doping test. His case is the fifth positive test for a banned substance reported by the IOC since the Olympic body started its London testing program in mid-July. The other four were caught before competing.
The International Olympic Committee said it disqualified him from the 73-kilogram class, where he placed seventh. He beat opponents from Hong Kong and Belgium, then lost to fighters from South Korea and Mongolia.
The IOC added that he tested positive for metabolites of cannabis after competing on July 30, the day of his event. He is to be stripped of his accreditation immediately, and the IOC will ask the International Judo Federation to change the standings in Delpopolo's event.
The IOC also requested that judo's governing body "consider any further action within its own competence."
The 23-year-old judoka from Westfield, N.J., said his positive test was "caused by my inadvertent consumption of food that I did not realize had been baked with marijuana" before he left for the Olympics.
"I apologize to U.S. Olympic Committee, to my teammates, and to my fans, and I am embarrassed by this mistake," he said in a statement released by the USOC. "I look forward to representing my country in the future, and will rededicate myself to being the best judo athlete that I can be."
USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement his group is "absolutely committed to clean competition and stringent anti-doping penalties. Any positive test, for any banned substance, comes with the appropriate consequences and we absolutely support the disqualification."
Delpopolo was born Petra Perovic in the former Yugoslavia and was adopted by an American family. Before the games, Delpopolo said in his official Olympic biography that he found training for London to be intense and he would like to return to study.
"I would also like to try and get a job wherever; it wouldn't matter to me," he said on the website. "These two things would be a good change of pace from the 'always train' life I live now. Don't get me wrong, I would still practice, train and compete judo but not as intense or as much as I am now. But in 2014 I would start preparing for the 2016 Games again."
LONDON — For the first time before a big meet, Jenn Suhr heard a positive message from her husband, Rick, who's also her coach.
While sending Jenn onto the field for the Olympic pole vault final Monday night, Rick told her nobody's unbeatable — not even Russian superstar Yelena Isinbayeva, the two-time champion and world-record holder.
And so, Suhr went out and proved him right, defeating Isinbayeva, capturing the gold and giving a nice boost to the United States track and field team, which hasn't been getting many breaks so far at the London Olympics.
"Before I went out here, he said, 'You're going to win this,'" Suhr said. "I've competed 100 times and that's not something he says. It puts that extra spunk that I could do this. Someone else believes in me that much."
When it was over, Suhr rushed over to the stands to see her husband, who gingerly wrapped an American flag around her shoulders while she sobbed into his chest.
A quite different scene from four years ago in Beijing, when Rick was caught on camera berating Suhr after her disappointing runner-up finish to Isinbayeva. Few knew at the time that they were romantically involved and would be married two years later.
Yes, they've come a long way together.
From training in a pair of Quonset huts that Rick connected together to form a jumping pit — the blue-collar practice area in western New York they call "Rocky's Meat Cooler" — to winning an Olympic gold medal on the sport's grandest stage.
Suhr vaulted 15 feet, 7 inches (4.75 meters) to defeat Cuba's Yarisley Silva, who cleared the same height but lost on a tiebreaker because she had one more miss in the competition.
More significantly, Suhr beat Isinbayeva, who failed to become the first woman to win the same individual track and field event at three consecutive Olympics. Isinbayeva settled for bronze with a vault of 15-5 (4.70).
"Of course I'm not a fairy tale," she said.
Though Isinbayeva has struggled since her last Olympic gold, Rick Suhr wouldn't listen to any of that.
Like so many in their pole vaulting world, the Suhrs have long considered Isinbayeva the gold standard. After his wife finally beat the Russian, Rick compared Jenn to wrestler Rulon Gardner — who beat the undefeated Alexander Karelin in 2000 — and himself to Herb Brooks, who coached the 1980 Olympic hockey team to its shocking win over the Russians and eventual gold.
"It's such a big upset, I don't think people realize how big it actually is," Rick Suhr said.
It felt that way for Suhr — then Jenn Stuczynski — in Beijing, where the cameras caught Rick berating her minutes after she finished second. Lost in that snippet was the relationship that developed as he became more to her than a coach.
"If he could get out there and try to push me over the bar, he would," Suhr said. "He's done so much for me. He cares so much. People are like, 'Your coach is intense.' It's because he has that passion and knows how much I want it. It's two people with that kind of passion and drive."
Maybe their practice facility tells their story best — a cold, unforgiving, shell of a place that hardly looks like the training center for an Olympic champion.
"It's uphill, a slanted box, a lot of messed-up stuff," Suhr said.
As time has passed, Rick Suhr has had to keep expanding it. Upward. Because his wife's jumps threaten to scrape the roof.
And yet, rough as those conditions can be, Rick Suhr said it was worse at the stadium in London, where the pole vaulters were met with drizzle, rain, shifting winds.
Before all of Suhr's jumps, she would look to the stands where her husband would be holding his arms straight out in one direction or the other, signaling Jenn to make certain pole adjustments depending on the wind.
"You can see the way it goes back and forth," Suhr said of the constant conversation she carries on with her husband during a meet. "We're talking. We're emotional. It's something we put our hearts into, and blood, sweat and tears.
"It's two people," she said, "working toward one goal."
U.S. MEN'S HOOPS ROUTS ARGENTINA, 126-97
LONDON — One 3-pointer after another, Kevin Durant shot down Argentina — and perhaps the notion that defense wins championships.
This U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team is living proof that the best defense is a good offense. The road to gold in London is built on scores, not stops.
Durant scored 17 of his 28 points during the Americans’ 42-point third quarter, turning a one-point game into a blowout that sent the U.S. soaring into the quarterfinals with a 126-97 victory on Monday night.
Two nights after surviving their first real test in a 99-94 victory over Lithuania, the Americans seemed headed for another tight finish. Argentina shot 56 percent in the first half and the U.S. led just 60-59.
Minutes later, the game — the last before single-elimination play starts — was effectively over.
“I think we did a great job of responding from last game,” Durant said. “It was a tough game and so was the first half tonight. Guys played together. That second half is how we want to play.”
The NBA scoring champion matched the Argentines’ point total in the period, going 5-of-6 from 3-point range, the last one from well beyond 25 feet. The Americans didn’t stop shooting and scoring until Carmelo Anthony made a 3-pointer in the final second of the quarter while taking what he and the U.S. bench right behind him felt was a cheap shot from Argentina’s Facundo Campazzo, setting off an exchange of words and technical fouls.
It was too late by then for the Argentines. They needed to get closer to the U.S. shooters much sooner, and that was hard to do from some of the spots where Durant was pulling up.
The Americans (5-0) will play Australia (3-2) in a quarterfinal game Wednesday.
LeBron James added 18 points, including the Americans’ first seven of the third quarter before Durant took over. Chris Paul finished with 17.
“We’re great shooting team, but in close games sometimes you’ve got to go down and get some easy ones, and I wanted the ball, whether it was layups or in the post,” James said. “Once you get a couple easy ones at the rim, then the 3-pointers open up and you saw what KD was able to do.”
Durant’s 3-pointer after James’ surge gave the U.S. 10 points in 2:10 of the second half, and he made back-to-back 3s midway through the period to make it 85-68. Then he nailed consecutive 3s again later in the quarter, one from beyond the hash line, a distance that most players would never consider pulling up from.
“I really didn’t pay attention to where the line was,” Durant said. “When I caught that ball I was going to shoot it.”
With his 17 points, Durant tied Argentina all by himself in the third quarter. He finished 8 of 10 from 3-point range, where the U.S. team was 20 of 39.
Durant, who holds the U.S. scoring record with 38 points in the 2010 world championship, might have threatened that if not for the lopsided score. He checked out for good about a minute into the fourth quarter.
“It sort of developed, but anybody in their right mind, when he gets shooting the ball like that, there’s only one thing to do: Get the ball to him,” Paul said of the plan to feed Durant. “Luckily, we have a team that has the presence of mind to get it to him. He is unbelievable. We have to yell at him to shoot the ball and as you see, he usually makes it.”
Manu Ginobili scored 16 points for Argentina (3-2), which would have won Group A via tiebreaker if it had blown out the U.S. Instead, it finished third and will face Brazil in the quarterfinals.
“In the second half the U.S. really upped the ante, started playing very hard. They had a lot of defensive attacks and they started to run a lot more,” Argentina’s Leonardo Gutierrez said through a translator. “They also had an incredibly high percentage of 3-pointers. In the third quarter, they had three or four 3-pointers. They got one after another, all in a row, and we had a strong offense and gained many points. but that is something very difficult for any team to overcome.”
A crowd featuring former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and ex-heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield was treated to an offensive show in the first half with little more defense than the NBA All-Star game. A basket on one end was answered quickly by a shot on the other in what was shaping up as a thriller between the last two Olympic champions.
But the U.S. simply has too much offense, even if the defense could use some tightening up.
The Americans have two days to work on it before facing the Australians (3-2), who pulled a surprise earlier Monday, handing Group B champion Russia its first loss, 82-80, on Patty Mills’ 3-pointer as time expired.
Then again, maybe the defense is fine as it is.
James, who scored nine of his 20 points in the final four minutes Saturday, now has 225 points as a U.S. Olympian, just six away from Charles Barkley for third place on the U.S. career list.
The closer on Saturday, James was a late arrival Monday, returning from the locker room area, leaping over a barrier like an Olympic hurdler to jump back in line in time for the national anthem.
Still missing at the start was the U.S. defense.
The Americans, who insist their defense is their strength, allowed Argentina to make 11 of its first 15 shots, falling behind 30-29 when Gutierrez made a 3-pointer with 1:03 left in the first quarter. Durant’s 3-pointer as time expired gave the U.S. a 34-32 lead headed to the second.
The U.S. could lead by no more than six in the second — though nobody was quite sure when that happened. Andre Iguodala’s ferocious dunk on the fast break was thrown down with such force that it hit his chest and ricocheted back up through the basket so quickly that it was unclear if it went in at all. The public address announcer and scoreboard operator counted it, but Argentina simply pushed the ball up the other way without inbounding as if the shot had missed. Replays showed it clearly went all the way down, making it 45-39.
The game between the longtime rivals got testy in the second half, and they could see each other again soon. They would meet in the semifinals for the third straight Olympics if both win Wednesday.
“You kind of want to send a message a little bit,” Kobe Bryant said. “This was the second game in a row that a team has played us close. We didn’t want to give them confidence.”
The teams played a physical exhibition game last month in Barcelona, the Argentines trimming a 20-point deficit to four in the final minutes before losing 86-80.
Campazzo, starting because Knicks-bound veteran point guard Pablo Prigioni is out with kidney stones, said he apologized to Bryant but not to Anthony, saying Paul didn’t apologize for hitting him.
“He told me it’s not necessary, and I told him I was really sorry,” Campazzo said. “But before Chris Paul punched me. It’s part of the game.”
DAY 10 ROUNDUP:
In gymnastics, Gabby Douglas was nowhere near the podium this time. The all-around champion, who also helped the United States to team gold, finished last on uneven bars. Russia’s Aliya Mustafina rallied to the victory.
“Toward the end of the Olympics, you get mentally and physically tired and you’re just like drained,” Douglas said. “I tried to fight through it as much as I could.”
Mustafina, who injured her left knee in April 2011, gave Russia its first gold in women’s gymnastics in London. This completed her medal set following a silver in team competition and bronze in all-around.
Arthur Zanetti finished first on still rings for Brazil’s first gymnastics medal, and Yang Hak-seon of South Korea added the gold on vault to his world title.
The rest of the Olympic action Monday:
Americans Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal were knocked out of the men’s tournament by Latvia.
The Americans won the first set 21-19, then dropped two straight to Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins, 21-18, 15-11. The other American men’s team, Beijing gold medalists Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, had already been eliminated.
Latvia will meet the reigning world champion Brazilian team of Emanuel and Alison, which escaped a set point in the third to beat Poland 21-17, 16-21, 17-15.
The No. 2 Brazilian team of Ricardo and Pedro Cunha lost to Germany, and Reinder Nummerdor and Rich Schuil of the Netherlands beat Italy in the remaining quarterfinal.
Flyweight Marlen Esparza and middleweight Claressa Shields clinched the U.S. team’s first two boxing medals. Esparza patiently outboxed Venezuela’s Karlha Magliocco, and the 17-year-old Shields closed furiously in an 18-14 win over Swedish veteran Anna Laurell.
Ireland lightweight Katie Taylor and top-seeded flyweight Ren Cancan of China also won in the first women’s tournament.
On the men’s side, lightweight Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine clinched his second Olympic boxing medal with a 14-9 victory over Puerto Rico’s Felix Verdejo, and middleweight Vijender Singh was eliminated in the biggest blow yet to the beleaguered Indian team.
Middleweight Anthony Ogogo and super heavyweight Anthony Joshua each won for the powerful British team.
David McKienzie scored 17 points and the defending champion U.S. men’s team clinched a top tournament seed with a victory over winless Tunisia.
Sean Rooney added 12 points in the 25-15, 25-19, 25-19 win, which set up a quarterfinal against Italy on Wednesday.
The United States was coming off a five-set loss to Russia, which ended an 11-match winning streak in Olympic play, dating to the Americans’ undefeated march to the gold medal at the Beijing Games.
Bulgaria plays Germany, Poland faces Russia and Argentina plays Brazil in the other quarters.
Matt Emmons finally made his way to the podium in the 50-meter three-position rifle event at the Olympics.
The U.S. marksman held on to win the bronze medal at the London Games. Italy’s Niccolo Campriani set Olympic marks of 1,180 in qualifying and 1,278.5 for his overall score, easily topping silver medalist Kim Jong-hyun of South Korea.
Emmons won a 50-meter prone rifle gold at Athens and silver in the event at Beijing, but is best-known for his Olympic three-position misfortunes.
He was the leader with one shot left in three-position at Athens in 2004, then somehow managed to shoot at the wrong target. He was in front again with one shot left in Beijing, but the gun went off before he was aligned with the target.
In men’s trap, Giovanni Cernogoraz of Croatia beat world champion Massimo Fabbrizi in a shoot-off for the gold. Kuwait’s Fehaid Aldeehani won another shoot-off for the bronze.
Norbert Hosnyanszky scored three times and defending champion Hungary beat the U.S. 11-6 to close out the preliminary stage of the men’s tournament.
The Americans have dropped two straight and will face undefeated Croatia in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Hungary plays Italy, Spain takes on Montenegro and Australia faces Serbia in the other quarters.
Jason Kenny won the sprint for Britain’s fifth gold medal out of a possible seven in track cycling.
Kenny earned his first win against three-time world champion Gregory Bauge of France. The 24-year-old from Bolton, outside Manchester, made good on the British team’s decision to enter him in the event instead of defending champion Chris Hoy.
Bauge failed in his bid to become the first Frenchman to win the Olympic sprint title in 40 years.
Shane Perkins of Australia claimed the bronze medal.
Tom Slingsby of Australia won the men’s Laser class by match-racing closest competitor Pavlos Kontides to the back of the fleet.
Kontides took the silver, the first-ever Olympic medal for Cyprus, the small island nation that started taking part in the games in Moscow in 1980.
A few hours later, as Slingsby was about to receive his gold medal in a harbor-side ceremony, the Aussie crew of Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen came ashore with an unassailable lead in the 49er skiff class.
To collect their medals, Outteridge and Jensen need to make a “genuine effort” to start, sail the course and finish in the medals race Wednesday.
In the women’s Laser Radial, Xu Lijia of China won the gold despite having to do a penalty turn on the first downwind leg for rocking the boat. Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands took silver, and Belgium’s Evi Van Acker was third.
Ilya Zakharov of Russia led the men’s 3-meter springboard preliminaries, with He Chong of China close behind in second during a competition marked by pratfalls.
Zakharov totaled 507.65 points during the six rounds. He, who was ninth after his first dive, totaled 500.90 while opening defense of his Olympic title.
Troy Dumais of the U.S. was third at 486.60 after rallying from sixth in the fourth round.
Two divers scored all zeros, while two others got low scores for badly botching their dives.
Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina head into the duet final as top qualifiers after the preliminary free routine.
Performing to music that included the theme from Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow,” the Russians added to their leading marks in the preliminary technical to easily claim the top spot in 196.800.
China’s Huang Xuechen and Liu Ou were next at 192.810, while Spain’s Ona Carbonell and Andrea Fuentes were third at 192.590. The top 12 teams advanced to Tuesday’s final.
Three-time Olympic champion Australia was knocked out of the women’s tournament when it played a scoreless draw against world champion Argentina.
Argentina advanced to the semifinals with the draw in the finale of pool play. Australia had to win, and it never looked likely.
Germany, the other former Olympic champion in Pool B, also was eliminated with a 0-0 draw with New Zealand.
New Zealand’s reward for making it to the semifinals for the first time was a clash with unbeaten defending champ the Netherlands on Wednesday. Britain meets Argentina in the other semi.
Daniel Narcisse scored six goals and defending champion France beat Sweden 29-26 to reach the men’s quarterfinals.
France was boosted by a supportive crowd and next faces Spain, which lost 30-25 to two-time Olympic champion Croatia.
Croatia finished on top of Group B with 10 points and is unbeaten heading into its Wednesday quarterfinal against Tunisia.
Iceland crushed Britain 41-24 to remain unbeaten and top Group A with 10 points. It will face Hungary in the next round.
Sweden and Denmark meet in the other quarterfinal.
ELSEWHERE IN LONDON
Britain beat China 90-58 for its first Olympic win in men’s basketball since the 1948 London Games. “We came a long way with this program,” said Luol Deng, who plays for the Chicago Bulls. “This was a vision we’ve had from early on. We made history. You’ve got to start somewhere.” … Britain won its first Olympic show jumping gold medal in 60 years, edging the Netherlands in a jump-off. Saudi Arabia was a surprising third in the equestrian event. … Greco-Roman wrestling golds went to Iran’s Omid Noroozi (men’s 60-kilogram), Russia’s Alan Khugaev (men’s 84-kg) and Cuba’s Mijain Lopez (men’s 120-kg). … Oleksiy Torokhtiy won Ukraine’s first weightlifting gold of the games. Torokhtiy lifted a total of 412 kilograms, just 1 kg more than silver medalist Navab Nasirshelal of Iran. … Adam van Koeverden of Canada was the fastest qualifier for the final of the 1,000-meter K-1 race at the Olympic regatta. … The men’s and women’s table tennis teams from China each advanced to their respective finals.
Katie Taylor, 2 US women clinch boxing medals
LONDON — Katie Taylor stepped through the ropes and into the madness, beaming at thousands of flag-waving, face-painted Irish fans raucously celebrating her Olympic boxing victory.
The pound-for-pound world champion clenched her fists and roared right back at them.
The debut women's tournament stopped being just historic and started getting passionate in the quarterfinals Monday. Twelve fighters made sure they're heading home with medals, but everybody still wants to upgrade.
"It'll only be a relief if I'm on the top of the podium with the gold medal and nothing else," the Irish lightweight said after riding a dazzling swell of fan support to a 26-15 win over Britain's Natasha Jonas. "I'm just concentrating on my next fight. No one is happy with a bronze medal."
But boxing fans seemed thrilled after the second straight day of highly entertaining, evenly matched bouts in a sport that was banned in Britain until 1996. The ExCel arena officials measured the decibels and said it was their loudest crowd so far — and loudest of all while Taylor picked apart Jonas in their rivalry bout.
"I've never experienced an atmosphere like this before," Taylor said. "It's been incredible."
Flyweight Marlen Esparza and middleweight Claressa Shields also clinched the U.S. team's first two boxing medals in London. Esparza patiently outboxed Venezuela's Karlha Magliocco, and the 17-year-old Shields closed furiously in an 18-14 win over Swedish veteran Anna Laurell.
The Americans also emerged in awe of the atmosphere in this Olympic debut.
"I had to keep myself calm out there," said Shields, who could still hear instructions from her personal coach, Jason Crutchfield, shouted from the stands. "I didn't want to be overanxious, but it was kind of like, 'Wow.'"
Women's boxing pioneer Mary Kom of India and Britain's Nicola Adams also secured medals in this brisk tournament, which only began Sunday with the landmark first bouts.
Top-seeded flyweight Ren Cancan of China advanced, but top-seeded British middleweight Savannah Marshall was upset by Kazakhstan's Marina Volnova, Shields' next opponent.
Esparza restored respectability to the American team, which hadn't won a bout inside the ring in eight days. The American men had lost eight consecutive fights before welterweight Errol Spence's apparent loss last week was overturned by amateur boxing's governing body on appeal.
Esparza had little trouble with the wild-swinging Magliocco, battering her with counterpunches and then getting out of the way. The crowd preferred Magliocco's undisciplined aggression, but Esparza didn't win six national championships by brawling.
The 23-year-old Cover Girl model from Houston must face Ren in her next fight, but believes her tactical approach can work against anybody.
"It feels good, and I know that the USA needed it badly," Esparza said. "I thought the crowd was going to freak me out a lot more than it did. I've never fought in front of something like that."
Shields rallied from a second-round deficit against Laurell, who fought at the first women's world championships 11 years ago. The teenager from Flint, Mich., has uncommon velocity on her punches, and Laurell used her superior reach to stay outside for the first two rounds until her legs tired and Shields pounced, unleashing multiple big shots.
"I definitely don't feel like I fight like a girl," Shields said. "I'm boxing out there. I just happen to hit hard."
But the main event was Taylor's electrifying victory over Jonas, just the second loss by a British boxer in their home Olympics — until Marshall was shocked an hour later. Hundreds of Irish fans showed up early to cheer Taylor, a reigning world champion since 2006 and the Irish team's flagbearer in the opening ceremony.
Taylor came through in front of a crowd singing her name, repeatedly punishing the impressive Jonas with a stiff right hand and defensive skills that rival any male Olympians.
Jonas gave Taylor a strong fight in the first two rounds, landing her right hook and avoiding most trouble. But Taylor, a former player on Ireland's national soccer team, is athletic and relentless, and eventually picked apart Jonas' defense. Jonas took standing-eight counts in each of the final two rounds after absorbing brutal combinations from Taylor.
"She's still the best," Jonas said. "She comes out on top every time. My hat's off to her. There's nothing else. ... I could have thrown the kitchen sink (at her), maybe drove the bus into her. It didn't work."
Second-seeded Nadezda Torlopova of Russia won the final middleweight fight, and the grateful crowd gave one last ovation.
"When you see women's boxing at the highest level, after this kind of a performance, I don't know how you can argue we don't belong in the Olympics," Jonas said.