Biggest Disappointments of Day 2
So far, at least for me, London 2012 has been nothing short of surprising. The Beijing gold medalists are having a lot of trouble repeating their performances and we are seeing other athletes posing as favorites.
There have been a lot of upsets so far but, Day 2 of the games have been especially odd. We have seen teams that were favorites fall and a lot of individual upsets.
Let's highlight the major disappointments today.
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Agnieszka Radwanska is the current runner-up at Wimbledon and was a highly touted competitor for the gold in women's tennis. In the first round, she was paired up against an up-and-coming Julia Georges from Germany.
Radwanska is having a good season in the circuit and her very good performance at Wimbledon put her in the Olympic-gold conversation.
Let's just say that Julia Georges is now the favorite. The thing is that it wasn't a letdown by Radwanska or a mental breakdown that made this upset happen. The reason for this upset is the unexpected serving of Julia Georges. Her 20 aces made any other outcome impossible.
A game for the ages.
Australia, Men's 4x100-Meter Freestyle Relay
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I was watching the Brazilian television make the call for the men's swimming 4x100-meter freestyle relay and while they were listing the athletes, they commented on the absence of Alain Bernard on the French Team and the Phelps-Lochte combo for the U.S., but the consensus was that no team could rival the Australian relay.
James Magnussen, Matthew Targett, Eamon Sullivan and James Roberts weren't able to muster enough forces to even medal. The bronze medal went to Team Russia, a team that wasn't the sexiest pick in this event.
Spain, Men's Football
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Juan Mata, Jordi Alba and Javi Martinez had just come off the Euro title. Also, Spain had just defeated France for the U-19 Euro title. With these credentials, Spain was the team to beat. Everyone was looking at Brazil, but the lack of an Olympic gold and rough-and-tumble start against Egypt left us with a sour taste and more expectant of Spain.
Earlier in the day, Brazil started slow even allowing the Belarus squad a goal, but Neymar, Oscar, Pato & Co. turned the boat around and put on a show. The balance of the universe was restored.
Despite a loss to Japan at the opening match, Spain were the clear-cut favorites against a Honduras squad that already had a "W" against Morocco.
Well, tonight was a night to forget for the Spaniards. They forgot to show up for the first half and were scored on essentially on the only chance that forward Jerry Bengtson had. In the second half, the universe started working his magic against Spain.
What strikes me the most isn't the ball that hit the post and the two that hit the crossbar even though the last ball on the crossbar was unforgivable. What strikes me the most is that the established players like Juan Mata and Iker Muniain failed to call it upon themselves to qualify or at least give the team chances on the last match day.
The only time these players led the team was when the referee, correctly, did not call penalty and when the linesman gave a foul on the Honduras' right-back in the Spanish half early in the injury time. If it were another competition, the ref would have sent off at least two Spanish players.
A melancholic end to the Spanish adventure.
Federica Pellegrini, 400-Meter Freestyle
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Pellegrini herself is already one of the highlights of London 2012. That being said, she is one of the most accomplished women swimming in London. Pellegrini is often unpredictable. You never know if the record-breaker is going to show up.
Well, she did. After swimming well enough to get into the finals, Federica was counted among the favorites for this event along with the French Camille Muffat and American Allison Schmitt.
Both Muffat and Schmitt medaled on the one and two spots. Pellegrini? Let's just say she didn't show up. Rebecca Adlington pushed in the final 50 meters to overtake Danish Lotte Friis for the bronze medal spot. Pellegrini came in fifth.
Kosuke Kitajima, Men's 100-Meter Breaststroke
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Kosuke Kitajima was the reigning Olympic champion and he is a character both on and off the pool. An icon in Japan, Kitajima swam very well at the Japanese championship and had one of the best times leading into London.
It is my personal opinion that you need put forth the best performances when it matters the most.
Kitajima swam well enough for a fifth place. Today just wasn't his day. He joins the growing list of Beijing champions that weren't able to repeat.