Olympics 2012 Results: Biggest Surprises from Day 1
Day 1 of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London was full of surprises. Some of them happened during competition, while others happened off the field of play.
The Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte rivalry was perhaps the biggest storyline leading to the 2012 games, and it came to a head on the opening day.
There were some surprising results in team competition and near-upsets in women's basketball. Canada fell just short in an upset bid against Russia and didn't make the top 10...but they at least get a h/t here.
Following are 10 of the biggest surprises from Day 1. As always, Bleacher Report looks forward to your comments on the day's other intriguing results.
Michael Phelps, Laszlo Cseh and the 400-Meter IM
Clive Rose/Getty Images
The 400-meter individual medley was a race in which Michael Phelps was expected to dominate the international field. His only competition should have been from countryman Ryan Lochte, who won this event at the U.S. time trials.
Phelps was facing Beijing silver-medalist Laszlo Cseh in his qualification heat. They swam a competitive race, with Phelps passing Cseh in the freestyle leg to win the heat.
Then the two watched as Phelps' time was beat by seven other racers.
"That one didn't feel too good," Phelps told the AP after qualifications (h/t CBS News). In his interview on NBC, he said it felt "pretty terrible, actually." He struggled and was concerned with where his time would leave him in the finals.
As it turned out, Phelps was the last qualifier and medal-favorite Cseh will be watching from outside the pool.
Lochte finished with the third-fastest time in the preliminaries and went on to dominate the field in the finals.
Phelps finished fourth, marking the first time he failed to medal in one of his Olympic events.
"It was just a crappy race," Phelps said after failing to medal (h/t NBC Sports). "I felt fine the first 200, then I don't know. They just swam a better race than me, a smarter race than me, and were better prepared than me. That's why they're on the medal stand."
Japan's Kosuke Hagino claimed the last spot on the podium, beating Phelps by .034 seconds.
U.S. Beats South Korea in Archery, Wins Silver Medal
Paul Gilham/Getty Images
The United States archery team won its first Olympic medal since winning gold in Atlanta in 1996. The team consists of 23-year-old Brady Ellison, ranked No. 1 in the world; Jake Kaminski (23); and Jacob Wukie (26).
The U.S. secured a medal by shocking the heavily-favored South Korean team in the semifinals, 224-219.
South Korea was the three-time defending Olympic champion and was expected to repeat in 2012.
The U.S. lost a tight gold-medal match with Italy, but securing the silver medal was a tremendous surprise.
This was the first medal for the U.S. at the London Games.
Great Britain, Gymnastics
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
There haven't been many expectations placed on the British men's gymnastics team. Great Britain hasn't sent full men's and women's teams to the Olympics since the U.S.-boycotted 1984 Games.
The men qualified only two gymnasts for the Beijing Games, and an individual bronze medal on the pommel horse ended an Olympic medal drought that was as long as Britain's absence from a men's final in Wimbledon.
Great Britain's odds of hanging with the top teams weren't widely discussed, so crushing China in the day's opening session and finishing ahead of Japan were huge surprises for the host nation.
Saturday's results serve only to place participants in the finals. Scores are reset, so the early results won't help Great Britain medal.
But Britain's ability to dominate the defending world and Olympic champions from China was impressive.
The United States cruised in the second session and ended with a three-point lead over Great Britain. Russia barely edged out the host country for second place in the qualifying round.
More information on Great Britain's performance is available at London 2012 Gymnastics: Stunning Show by Great Britain's Men, courtesy of Bleacher Report's Emily Bayci.
Alexandr Vinokourov Rebounds from Broken Femur to Olympic Cycling Gold
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Alexandr Vinokourov was ready to retire after he broke his femur in a nasty crash at the Tour de France in 2011 (via SI.com):
After so many crashes, returning to cycling was difficult, but I was still hoping for a good result. My family, my kids, my parents were behind me the whole time.
I still have the metal plate in my hip, my femur, so it wasn't easy. Today, a dream has come true.
Alexandr Vinokourov after sprinting to a win in the men's road race
The 38-year-old from Kazakhstan served a two-year ban in 2007 after testing positive for doping at that year's Tour. He held off Rigoberto Uran of Colombia in the final sprint, as the two had separated from the pack.
The win came as a big surprise to the host nation, whose Mark Cavendish predicted a win, calling Great Britain's cyclists a "dream team," a team including 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins. Cavendish never came clear of the large pack that trailed the two lead riders.
Still, Wiggins' wife remained optimistic:
I am still proud of a valiant effort. Heads high GREAT Britain and on your feet for Mark Cavendish— Catherine wiggins (@Cathwiggins1981) July 28, 2012
Alexander Kristoff came clear of that pack to earn the bronze, edging out American Taylor Phinney.
Fourth place was a huge accomplishment for the 22-year-old Phinney, but he was visible and verbally distraught with the outcome. On NBC's broadcast, he said fourth was the worst place at the Olympics.
China Defeats Czech Republic in Women's Basketball
Croatia attempted to claim the biggest upset on Day 1 of the Olympic Games with a courageous effort against Team USA in women's basketball.
The Croatians came up short in the fourth quarter, but China didn't in their game against the Czech Republic.
The Chinese used a dominating, 11-2 finish to give themselves a 66-57 win.
The Czech Republic took the silver medals in the 2010 World Championships and are expected to have a medal performance in London.
China called that into question on Saturday, jumping out to an early 15-4 lead.
The Czech team rebounded its way to a 55-55 tie in the third quarter, but it couldn't get in front of China.
World-Record Holder Paul Biedermann Misses Finals
One might begin to wonder where Biedermann's head was during Saturday's preliminary.
Clive Rose/Getty Images
German swimmer Paul Biedermann was one of the favorites in the 400-meter freestyle. He set the world record at the 2009 World Championships and was expected to exact a little revenge after failing to emerge from the heats in 2008 in Beijing.
Instead, it was the past happening all over again. He'll watch as Sun Yang of China takes on Americans Peter Vanderkaay and Conor Dwyer.
Off-Again, On-Again for Park Tae-Hwan and Ryan Cochrane
Adam Pretty/Getty Images
Olympic champion Park Tae-Hwan was disqualified following his heat for a presumed false start. Given the start had sounded before the disqualification was declared, FINA rules dictated that race continued, with the swimmer notified of the disqualification following the race.
Park's disqualification opened the way for Canadian Ryan Cochrane to receive a lane in the finals.
South Korea appealed the decision, but FINA's technical swimming committee ruled against the suit. The final appeal was heard before the jury of appeal, made up of the 22 members of the FINA Bureau, the FINA president or vice president, and honorary members.
That body opted to overturn the decision and place Park in the finals, releasing an official statement (via NBC):
The FINA Jury of Appeal met today in the Aquatics Centre and examined the protest lodged by the Korean Swimming Federation regarding the disqualification of Park Tae-Hwan in the heats of the men's 400 free. And, based on the recommendations of the FINA Technical Swimming Commission, decided to reinstate the above mentioned swimmer in the final of the men's 400 free.
The oddity is that the swimming committee originally upheld the decision of the judge to disqualify Park. The committee seemed to change its stance heading up to the final appeal.
There is speculation that the referee confused Park with Australian swimmer David McKeon, but no official word has been handed down.
The drama isn't quite over, as Cochrane appealed losing his spot in the finals.
Hope Solo Blasts Former Teammate, NBC Commentator on Twitter
George Frey/Getty Images
After a team wins 3-0, the last thing you would expect to see would be angry tweets from one of the team’s star players.
However, that’s just what the world got when U.S. women’s soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo unleashed a barrage of angry messages directed toward NBC commentator and former national team player Brandi Chastain:
Defending Olympic Champion Fabian Cancellara Crashes
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
It didn't look as though Fabian Cancellara was going much faster than the lead group in Saturday's road race, but when the group hit the brakes for the sharp right turn, Cancellara seemed lost and found the barricades.
Cancellara was moving to the left side of the pack, which certainly impacted his ability to make the turn. It also kept him from taking more cyclists with him to the pavement.
He received some aid during the race from a support vehicle and went to the hospital for x-rays on his right shoulder after completing the course.
It is not yet known if this crash will keep him from defending his Olympic gold in the time-trial event.
Natalie Coughlin Left off Finals in Women’s 4x100 Freestyle Relay
Al Bello/Getty Images
Natalie Coughlin has been a focal part of the U.S. swim team. In what will be her final Olympic games, she qualified only as a member of the women’s 4x100-meter freestyle relay team.
Her experience and excellence over her career made her a natural choice to be one of the team's captains but didn't get her on the starting blocks after a solid leg in Saturday's preliminary heat.
America went young, looking towards the future, but the U.S. finished with the bronze medal.
Honorable Mention: Torch Lighting at Opening Ceremonies
The spectacle of David Beckham driving the flame down the Thames was a highlight of the Opening Ceremonies.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Perhaps it is too much of a liberty to consider the torch lighting as part of Day 1, but at times it felt as though the opening ceremony would be interrupted to allow for coverage of the first day's sporting events.
There had been ample speculation about who would have the honor of lighting the Olympic Cauldron. Some suggested Steve Redgrave, while I leaned toward the honor going to David Beckham or Daley Thompson.
In the end I'm not sure what was more underwhelming...the decision to let a crew of young, unknown athletes light the cauldron or the cauldron itself.
Yes, having participating athletes carrying in sections of the cauldron was great. The manner in which the torch arms rose from the floor to create the large cauldron was also impressive.
However, the cauldron has traditionally been visible from much of the Olympic venue. The relatively low profile on the floor of the Olympic stadium falls far short of that history.
The London organizing committee also seemed to take the coward's way out with the final lighting.
The committee had the opportunity to honor one of Britain's great athletes, but controversy over who that would be seems to have led them simply not to choose anyone.