Olympics 2012 Results: Biggest Surprises from Day 11
Day 11 at the 2012 Olympic Games was full of surprising results.
Netherlands gymnast Epke Zonderland's performance in the men's individual horizontal bar was one of the bigger surprises of the day, as was the performance of U.S. gymnast Danell Leyva.
Both will be featured in this list for different reasons.
These two athletes weren't the only ones who surprised us on August 7, though. Keep reading to find out who else put together performances that rocked London on Day 11.
Epke Zonderland Wins Gymnastics Gold for Netherlands
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Epke Zonderland proved he was stellar in the men's horizontal bar apparatus during qualifications, so it's not a huge surprise that he did well again in the individual final.
The fact that he won a gold medal in gymnastics for the Netherlands is why Zonderland gets the nod here. He's the first gymnast from his country to have done so since the women's team of 1928 won the gold for team combined exercises, as it was called back then.
Zonderland's score of 16.533 in the final was well above the rest of the field, and it was far and away the best score by anyone on this apparatus for the entire 2012 Olympic Games.
Leonel Manzano Earns Silver Medal in Men's 1,500-Meter
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U.S. runner Leonel Manzano earned a silver medal on Tuesday in the men's 1,500-meter.
He is the first American to medal in this event since Jim Ryun brought home the silver way back in 1968.
The manner in which Manzano won the silver medal is just as surprising as is the historic nature of the run. Throughout the entire race, he never looked to be in contention. If anything, his teammate, Matthew Centrowitz, was the one who looked like he'd pull off a medal.
Centrowitz started losing steam toward the end, though. And on the final 100-meter stretch, Manzano came from the back of the pack with a furious push I never saw coming to surge to second place.
It was one of the most glorious final pushes I've seen in quite some time, and Manzano deserves much praise and admiration for his efforts.
Danell Leyva Fails to Medal
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Danell Leyva is one of the world's premier horizontal bar experts. He won the gold medal at the 2010 Pan American Games and is the reigning three-time U.S. champion in this event.
He's equally good on the parallel bars, but he didn't make it to the men's individual final on that apparatus.
It wouldn't be fair to say that Leyva tanked in the horizontal bar final, but he didn't come anywhere close to medaling, either.
Leyva's score of 15.833 put him in the bottom half of the field of eight, which can only be described as a surprise and a major disappointment.
Victoria Pendleton Falls Short of Gold in Women's Sprint
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Heading into the semifinals and final of the women's sprint, Great Britain's Victoria Pendleton seemed like a lock to win the gold.
She had set a new Olympic record during qualifications, and after her resounding win in the women's keirin, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that she'd continue her winning ways in the sprint.
But Pendleton would lose consecutive heats in the final, settling for a silver medal.
Making matters worse, Pendleton lost the final to her rival, Australian cyclist Anna Meares. Furthermore, there was a bit of controversy surrounding the first heat.
According to the AAP:
In the first heat, Pendleton had the inside running, gained a good lead and Meares desperately tried to come around her on the last lap. The British ace beat her by barely a tyre width. But after several minutes of looking at video footage, race judges ruled Pendleton had come out of the sprinter's lane.
A video replay showed Pendleton crossing the line by about 10cm as they came into the finishing straight at top speed. The packed velodrome booed their disapproval when the decision was announced.
Pendleton was a good sport, though. She took the loss with grace and dignity, as the picture above clearly shows.
Chinese Divers Failed to Win Gold in Men's 3-Meter Springboard
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Russian diver Ilya Zakharov won the gold medal in the men's three-meter springboard competition on Tuesday, relegating the two Chinese divers—Qin Kai and He Chong—to silver and bronze medals, respectively.
This comes as a huge surprise, because Chinese divers haven't failed to win a gold in this event since 1992. Qin and He are only the latest in a long line of dominant Chinese divers, and they were supposed to keep the tradition going in 2012.
Unfortunately for them, Zakharov was simply brilliant in the pool on Tuesday. His winning score of 555.90 was more than 14 points better than the score of Qin—the silver medalist.
Zakharov's final dive—a forward four-and-a-half somersault—was the only dive from any competitor that earned a score above 100.
It was a masterful performance, and it's one that won't soon be forgotten.
Gabby Douglas' Struggles Continue
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Gabby Douglas was brilliant in the team all-around and individual all-around, particularly on the balance beam.
Since the individual apparatus competitions have begun, though, Douglas' game has unravelled.
She finished in last place on the uneven bars on Monday, which was bad enough. Then, on Tuesday, she experienced her worst moment of these Olympic Games.
Douglas' performance on the balance beam can only be described as disastrous. She slipped and fell on a change-of-direction leap, clinging to the bar before ultimately falling to the mat.
To be fair, Douglas was likely exhausted from her efforts in the team and individual all-around competitions. And her two performances since then won't have a negative impact on her phenomenal performance at the 2012 Summer Games.
Liu Xiang Injured Again, Fails to Move on in Men's 110-Meter Hurdles
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Liu Xiang can't catch a break.
After winning the gold medal in the men's 110-meter hurdles in 2004, Xiang injured his right Achilles tendon in 2008 and had to withdraw from the event.
Then, on Tuesday, lighting struck twice.
Xiang got off to a tremendous start. He was clearly ahead of the pack until he hit the first hurdle. He never made it over the hurdle, though, as his Achilles just gave out. He went down in a heap, rubbing the back of his right leg for a minute or so.
He then hopped on one leg toward the tunnel, thought better of it and decided to finish the race, even though it had long since been over. He hopped to the finish line, grimacing the entire way.
Never have I seen such heart from one who had just seen his dreams dashed upon the rocks.
I won't lie. I cried for him.
Jordyn Wieber Struggles in Floor Exercise, for Good Reason
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Jordyn Wieber's 2012 Olympic experience didn't go according to plan—except for the part where she helped Team USA win the team all-around gold medal, of course.
She had one more chance to put together a performance worthy of an individual medal on Tuesday in the women's individual floor exercise, but her end result was not what she hoped for.
Wieber's score of 14.500 was only good for seventh place...out of eight contestants.
That was surprising enough, but afterwards, we found out that Wieber may have been competing with a stress fracture in her right leg, according to Reuters.com. Her coach, John Geddert, said, "It hasn't been verified by MRI but there's all the signs of a stress fracture and she's had problems since training camp (in July)."
My hat goes off to Wieber for the courage and determination it took to continue competing, even though she was dealing with a painful injury.
Adam Krikorian Almost Blew Gold Medal Chances for U.S. Women's Water Polo Team
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Adam Krikorian is the head coach of the U.S. women's water polo team and the head coach for UCLA's men's water polo team. He's also a 14-time national champion for his time as a player, assistant coach and head coach in the NCAA.
The reason I bring all of that up is to illustrate that Krikorian knew better than to do what he did on Tuesday.
The Americans were playing Australia in the women's water polo semifinals. They were up by one point, and with one second remaining, Krikorian called a timeout without his team having possession of the ball—an automatic penalty.
This allowed Australia's Southern Ash to hit on the impending penalty shot, and suddenly, the game was tied and heading into overtime.
Luckily for Krikorian, his team responded with a two-point win in overtime. But Krikorian's untimely mistake was one of the most surprising moments of Day 11.