American hurdler Lolo Jones, who has gotten hoards of attention coming into the games, didn’t even medal Tuesday in the 100-meter hurdle finals, while teammates Dawn Harper (silver) and Kellie Wells (bronze) each finished ahead, while Aussie Sally Pearson won gold.
All-American girls: U.S. vs. U.S. in beach volleyball final
LONDON — In their first Olympics, April Ross and Jennifer Kessy will play for the gold medal in an all-American beach volleyball final.
In their final Olympics together, Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor are playing for something more: the label of being the greatest ever.
“We want to seal the deal that we’re the best team that’s ever happened,” Walsh Jennings said Tuesday night after they advanced to their third consecutive Olympic gold medal game with a 22-20, 22-20 victory over China. “Misty has changed my life. I just love her. I want to win tomorrow for us.”
A few hours later, Kessy and Ross beat the top-seeded Brazilians in a persistent rain to join their fellow Californians in Wednesday night’s final. Ross and Kessy rallied from a first-set loss and a four-point deficit in the second to beat reigning world champions Juliana and Larissa 15-21, 21-19, 15-12.
The Brazilians will play China’s Xue Chen and Zhang Xi, who are trying to repeat their bronze medal finish from Beijing.
Despite a medal shutout by the American men, the United States has clinched multiple beach volleyball medals for the fourth time in five Olympiads since it became a recognized sport in 1996.
Already the most-decorated team in the brief history of Olympic beach volleyball, Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor are guaranteed at least a silver medal. No one — man or woman — had ever won two beach volleyball gold medals before they became repeat champions in Beijing, and until now, no woman had won three Olympic medals of any color.
“I had a picture in my head at the beginning of the season of how I wanted us to play, and we’re living that picture,” Walsh Jennings said. “But it’s not over yet.”
Earlier Tuesday, Brazil’s Emanuel and Alison defeated Latvia to advance to the men’s gold medal game. They will meet the winner of the last match, between the Netherlands and Germany.
Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor won gold medals in Athens and Beijing without ever losing a match — in their first two Olympics, they never even lost a set — and they ran their unbeaten streak to 20 in a row with a victory Tuesday. But they gave up the first three points of the semifinal and fell behind 13-7 in the first set.
China saved two set points before Xue put one into the net tape to give the first set to the Americans.
The Americans held a slim lead most of the second, but China took the lead 17-16 and forced the Americans to take a timeout. Trailing 19-18, May-Treanor ran far behind the end line to retrieve an errant pass and bumped it toward the net — too close — forcing Walsh Jennings to slide under the net, delicately bumping the ball over and to an unoccupied area on the Chinese portion of the court.
“They’re a great team. They make you do crazy stuff like that,” Walsh Jennings said. “That was just funky. Misty ran down the ball and I think I got a little lucky on that one. But you need luck and I think you create your own luck, and that’s what you get when you don’t give up. But I can’t take real credit for that. That’s not skill.”
The Americans saved one set point, but May-Treanor fisted one to the back line to set up a match point, then Walsh Jennings’ block fell to the sand and she leapt into the air to celebrate.
In the early men’s semifinal, the reigning world champions from Brazil beat Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins 21-15, 22-20 to clinch no worse than silver. It is Emanuel’s third straight medal, but a first for Alison.
“I have been dreaming about this since I was a child,” Alison said. “Today I can finally say I am an Olympic athlete with a medal. But I am still dreaming about the gold.”
LONDON — Sally Pearson stood in the rain, hands on her head, eyes fixed on the big screen, desperately willing her name to show up first so she wouldn’t be another Olympic letdown for Australia.
For what seemed longer than the 100-meter hurdles took to race, she waited and wondered if Dawn Harper had snuck up and beat her to an Olympic gold medal again.
The front-runner for the last two seasons, Pearson got out of the blocks quickly and had a lead until Harper lunged at the finish line.
“I didn’t realize how close Dawn was until the end,” she said. “I said in my head, ‘Please don’t let this happen. I need this.’ ”
When her name flashed up first, Pearson knew she was No. 1 in an Olympic-record 12.35 seconds, narrowly in front of three Americans: 2008 gold medalist Harper; Kellie Wells, who had beaten the Australian in the last race coming into London; and Lolo Jones, who missed out on an Olympic medal again.
“Relief was the first thing I felt, and then shock,” Pearson said. “I really wanted this. I’ve worked so hard. To be able to finally have that result beside my name is just the best thing in the world.”
Pearson was considered a bit lucky to get a silver medal in Beijing four years ago, and she celebrated as if she had won a massive lottery. This time, the gold took longer to sink in.
Jones had been the leading hurdler in 2008, and had a decent lead in the Olympic final until she hit the penultimate hurdle and faded to finish seventh. That was the race that indelibly changed their careers.
It was a confidence boost for Pearson, convincing her she could win an Olympic gold medal.
“I’ve believed in myself for the last four years more than anything else,” she said. “When I won silver in Beijing, that’s when I knew I could be the best in the world.”
Pearson now holds all the big titles in the sprint hurdles — she won the world championships at Daegu last year, then the world indoors at Istanbul in March. She was voted the IAAF’s female athlete of the year for 2011.
But it was the Olympic gold medal she had wanted the most since she was an impressionable teen watching Cathy Freeman win the Olympic 400 meters in 2000, one of the defining events of the Sydney Games.
“I thought,” Pearson recounted, “I want that as well.”
No Australian runner was under more intense pressure than Freeman was in Sydney, where she lit the Olympic cauldron to open the games and then carried the weight of a nation’s expectations to a gold medal.
But Pearson’s win still had great significance for a country that prides itself on punching above its weight in international competition.
Until her race, Australia had been languishing at the London Games, where it went in with big statements about a top-five finish.
Instead, the powerful swimming squad only picked up one gold medal, and that put the rest of the athletes under pressure.
None more than Pearson, the country’s only genuine favorite for a track and field gold.
“The whole of Australia wanted me to win. I wanted to win — I call that support,” she said. “At times I may have felt the pressure, but I’d quickly put that to the back of my mind and say, ‘I want this, and I’m not going to let anyone stop me.’”
Freeman was quick to offer high praise, posting her congratulations on Twitter: “Simply fantastic Sally. Well deserved. Well done!!!”
Australians got up early to watch the race on TV, and many awoke to images of Pearson yelling with joy, falling onto her back on the track, with utter relief.
She got to her knees, then to her feet and quickly ran to the crowd and grabbed an Australian flag. On a full victory lap, she stopped to salute a group of fans waving green-and-gold flags and holding up inflatable boxing Kangaroos behind the start line.
Some had their doubts after Wells ended Pearson’s 2012 unbeaten streak with victory in a warmup meet at London last month, giving the Americans high hopes of catching her again on a bad day. The U.S. hurdlers all achieved something, even in defeat. Harper finally broke the 12.40 barrier — finishing in 12.37 — and Wells ran a personal best. For Jones, her season-best time wasn’t quite good enough for an Olympic medal.
“I had a good first four hurdles and then I got too upright and I didn’t keep it together,” Jones said. “At least I can lift my head a little higher and tell my kids about when their mom ran the Olympics.
“At least this time it was a clean, smooth race. It’s a season’s best so I’m pleased, but obviously I’m crushed.”
ATHLETES GO MISSING FROM VILLAGE:
LONDON — Seven of Cameroon’s Olympic competitors have disappeared from their official residence and may be attempting to seek asylum in Britain, the chief of the African nation’s delegation was quoted as saying Tuesday.
The British news agency Press Association said David Ojong, the Team Cameroon chief, told his government that five boxers, a swimmer and a soccer player left the athletes village in Stratford, east London, over the weekend and have not returned.
Ojong was quoted identifying the missing athletes, but the names differed from those given to the London organizing committee.
As displayed on the London Games official site, the seven are 50-meter freestyle swimmer Paul Edingue Ekane, 21; women’s goalie Drusille Ngako Tchimi, 25; and five boxers: light flyweight Thomas Essomba, 24; light heavyweight Christian Donfack Adjoufack, 28; lightweight Yhyacinthe Mewoli Abdon, 26; super heavyweight Blaise Yepmou Mendouo, 27; and light welterweight Serge Ambomo, 26.
Press Association, citing Cameroon media, said the seven all hold visas permitting them to remain legally in Britain until at least November.
A private newspaper in Cameroon, Le Messager, reported that the athletes were supposed to fly back to Cameroon on Sunday but had vanished. It said they took their personal effects, a nearly $5,000 performance bonus and new sports equipment with them, citing an unnamed national Olympic official.
The newspaper said Cameroon’s Olympic delegation told Prime Minister Philemon Yang about the disappearances and asked boxing coach Justin Tchouem to explain why he allowed his players to keep their passports.
Britain’s Home Office, responsible for immigration, said it could not comment on whether any of the seven had applied for asylum.
A sports reporter in Cameroon said some athletes had hinted before departing for London that they might attempt to stay there.
“They said they were very demotivated and named insufficient government attention to their complaints, inadequate financing, poor preparation and substandard infrastructure,” David Sandjo, a sports reporter for Sweet FM radio, told The Associated Press. “Some even said they would not hesitate to change their nationality if ever they had the chance.”
It’s not the first case of missing athletes in London. Before the July 27 opening ceremony, Sudan’s embassy confirmed that three athletes had gone missing; one had applied for asylum and the other two were expected to do so.
Italian race walker apologizes, cries after being banned for doping
ROME — Italian race walker Alex Schwazer says he obtained the performance-enhancing drug EPO on his own and used it because he felt pressure to win a second straight 50-kilometer walk gold medal at the Olympics.
Schwazer, who was expelled from the games on Monday for doping, sobbed on Italian TV on Tuesday. He insisted he won his gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics without the use of drugs. He says he “wanted the gold again at all costs.”
Schwazer says he learned how to use EPO via the Internet, and that the last three weeks after the doping test were “terrible” because he knew the results would be positive.
He says he is “sorry.”
LONDON — Two more things to know about Tuesday, Day 11 of the London Olympics:
—It’s over: U.S. men shut out in boxing tournament.
—On top: Hoy sets British record with 6th Olympic gold.
The last American boxer in the men’s tournament was eliminated, giving the U.S. team its first Olympic medal shutout.
Welterweight Errol Spence dropped a 16-11 decision to Russia’s Andrey Zamkovoy in the quarterfinals. The Dallas-area fighter started slowly and never got going in his team’s ninth loss in 10 fights.
Spence only reached the quarterfinals after the Americans successfully protested a loss to India’s Krishan Vikas over an accumulation of uncalled holding fouls last week.
Given a second chance to avoid the shutout, Spence said he had no reason to argue about this loss.
“I’m glad a better guy beat me this time, because I didn’t like the way I went out last time,” Spence said. “I didn’t think about the pressure on the team. I just tried to fight my fight, and it didn’t work out. He was the better man.”
Track cycling wrapped up at the London Velodrome, and Chris Hoy gave the boisterous crowd one last memory.
Hoy broke the British record with his sixth Olympic gold medal, defending his keirin title to finish off a dominating performance by the home nation.
“Because this is the end, the last Olympics I’m doing, the last Olympic medal I can win, the nature of the whole event,” Hoy said, “this one was probably the best.”
Hoy’s gold gave Britain seven out of 10 awarded at the London Velodrome, matching its haul from the Beijing Games.
Anna Meares of Australia won the women’s sprint earlier in the day, beating British rival Victoria Pendleton in the final, while Laura Trott gave the host country a win in women’s omnium.
The rest of the Olympic action Tuesday:
The U.S. women’s team played without captain Lindsey Berg, but still managed a 25-14, 25-21, 25-22 victory over the Dominican Republic in the tournament quarterfinals.
Berg is day to day with a left ankle injury and her status for Thursday’s match against South Korea is uncertain. Courtney Thompson started at setter in the Americans’ sixth consecutive victory at the games.
Destinee Hooker scored 19 points for the United States, which has never won a gold in volleyball. The team took silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after falling in the final to Brazil.
Brazil will meet Japan in the other semifinal.
Maggie Steffens scored four goals and the U.S. women’s team topped Australia 11-9 in overtime, shaking off a potentially costly blunder by coach Adam Krikorian to reach the Olympic final.
In a bruising match between medal contenders, Australia’s Southern Ash converted a penalty with one second left in regulation to tie it at 9 and force overtime.
The officials awarded the penalty after Krikorian called a timeout without his team having possession of the ball.
Steffens put the U.S. ahead in the first of two three-minute extra-time periods with a skip shot, and Kami Craig followed up with another goal.
The U.S. will meet unbeaten Spain in Thursday’s final.
Britain ended Germany’s decades-long domination of team dressage by winning the gold at Greenwich Park, adding to its first team show jumping gold in 60 years, which it won a day earlier.
Germany took the silver and the Netherlands got the bronze.
In dressage, the horse performs a choreographed routine of movements that showcases the animal’s training: prancing trots, extended strides, pirouettes and a move called the flying change, which looks like the horse is skipping.
The competition received unusual attention at the London Games because the U.S. team featured Rafalca, a horse co-owned by the wife of the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The U.S. was sixth and Rafalca, ridden by Jan Ebeling, finished in 28th place.
Ann Romney was in the VIP stands, as was Princess Anne, whose daughter Zara Phillips was part of the silver-winning British equestrian eventing team.
Ilya Zakharov of Russia scored 104.50 points on his last dive to win the 3-meter springboard, stopping China’s bid to sweep all eight diving events.
Zakharov totaled 555.90 points in the six-round final. China’s Qin Kai settled for silver at 541.75, and He Chong, the defending champion and Qin’s teammate, earned the bronze.
Troy Dumais of the U.S. finished fifth, his best showing in four Olympics.
Brazil reached its first Olympic men’s soccer final in 24 years when it beat South Korea behind two second-half goals by Leandro Damiao.
The Brazilians will face Mexico, which beat Japan 3-1 at Wembley Stadium in the other semi.
Brazil was the bronze medalist in 2008 but hadn’t reached the Olympic final since the 1988 Seoul Games, when it finished with the silver with a team led by Romario and Bebeto. It has never won gold in Olympic men’s soccer.
Windsurfing made a spirited games exit, with Dorian Van Rijsselberge of the Netherlands collecting the men’s gold medal he had clinched days earlier and Marina Alabau of Spain winning the women’s regatta.
Windsurfing got the heave-ho from the lineup for the 2016 Rio Olympics in a vote in May, replaced by kiteboarding. The International RS:X Class Association filed a legal challenge last week against the International Sailing Federation.
Van Rijsselberge won six of the first nine races. Nick Dempsey of Britain took the silver, and Poland’s Przemyslaw Miarczynski got the bronze.
On the women’s side, Finland’s Tuuli Petaja was second, and Zofia Noceti-Klepacka of Poland took third.
Meanwhile, the Australian 470 duo of Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page won Races 9 and 10 to open a four-point lead over the British duo of Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell.
Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina won duet for Russia, which hasn’t lost an Olympic synchronized swimming event since the 1996 Atlanta Games.
The Russians improved on their free score from the preliminaries, finishing with a total of 197.100 points.
Spain’s Ona Carbonell and Andrea Fuentes took the silver after a lively, tango-themed routine that had the crowd at the Aquatics Centre clapping along nearly the whole way. China’s Huang Xuechen and Liu Ou grabbed the bronze.
It was a family affair on the podium for the men’s triathlon, with Alistair Brownlee taking the gold for Britain and younger brother Jonathan finishing third.
Alistair Brownlee pulled away from Javier Gomez of Spain halfway through the 10-kilometer run to finish in 1 hour, 46 minutes, 25 seconds. Gomez took silver, and Jonathan Brownlee secured the bronze despite serving a 15-second time penalty.
The younger Brownlee collapsed 10 minutes after the finish and had to be given ice packs and glucose by medical staff, delaying the medal ceremony.
Katarina Bulatovic’s last-second goal lifted Montenegro to a 23-22 victory over France, making it the first country to reach the semifinals of the women’s handball tournament in its Olympic debut.
Montenegro will play Spain in the next round after Bulatovic converted a clutch penalty shot. Defending champion Norway will take on South Korea in the other semifinal on Thursday.
Britain qualified for the Olympic men’s semifinals for the first time since it won the 1988 Seoul Games by surviving a dramatic finish to draw 1-1 with Spain.
Britain completed a semifinals lineup that includes the last six Olympic winners. The home side will face the Netherlands (1996, 2000), and Germany (1992, 2008) takes on Australia (2004).
ELSEWHERE IN LONDON
China won the women’s team table tennis title with a 3-0 victory against Japan. China has won three gold medals in the sport at the London Games, along with two silvers. It could complete the gold sweep in the team events by winning the men’s final on Wednesday against South Korea. … Behdad Salimikordasiabi of Iran took the final gold medal of the weightlifting competition, lifting a total of 455 kilograms in the super heavyweight class. Defending Olympic champion Matthias Steiner of Germany dropped the barbell on his neck in his second lift and withdrew from the competition. … Greco-Roman wrestling golds went to Iran’s Ghasem Gholamreza Rezaei (96-kg) and South Korea’s Kim Hyeon-woo (66-kg). The U.S. failed to medal in any of the Greco-Roman events at the Olympics for the first time since 1976. … Italian kayaker Josefa Idem became the first woman to compete in eight Olympic Games — and marked the occasion by upstaging a host of younger rivals to qualify for the flagship 500-meter K-1 final.