Olympics 2012 Results: Biggest Surprises from Day 6

Avi Wolfman-Arent@@awolfmancomethCorrespondent IIAugust 2, 2012

Olympics 2012 Results: Biggest Surprises from Day 6

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    We've got Mad Mondays, Terrific Tuesdays and Wild Wednesdays, but Thursday?

    Thursday doesn't really lend itself to proper alliteration.

    So in lieu of a two-word catchphrase, I'll just say this: Lots of nutty things happened on Thursday at the 2012 London Olympics.

    Here are our 10 favorites.

    Leave yours in the comments section.

South Africa Captures Another Surprise Gold

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    South Africa is having itself some kind of Summer Games.

    After winning just one medal in Beijing (a silver), the nation of just under 50 million has already won three gold medals in London, all in relatively surprising fashion.

    Cameron van der Burgh got things started, improving on his bronze medal at 2011 Worlds with a victory over Japanese Kosuke Kitajima in the men's 100-meter breaststroke.

    Two nights later, fellow countryman Chad le Clos pulled off the upset of the Games when he out-touched Michael Phelps in the 200 fly.

    And today, perhaps the biggest shock of all.

    South Africa's men's four boat roared past pre-race favorites Great Britain and Denmark in the final meters to secure the country's first ever rowing gold.

    The stroke rate was set by black South African rower Sizwe Ndlovu, an erstwhile IT technician who is already being lauded as an inspiration in his home country.

Mexico on Target

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    Before Thursday, Mexico hadn't medaled in archery.

    That's zip, zilch, nada.

    On Thursday, America's neighbors to the south did it twice—in the same event.

    Mariana Avitia defeated American Khatuna Lorig to win bronze in the women's individual competition, while countrywoman Aida Roman came within one arrow of knocking off South Korean favorite Ki Bo-Bae in the gold-medal match.

    For those keeping score at home, that's one silver, one bronze and one emphatic end to a 112-year medal drought.

Hey, Whaddya Know? Another Boxing Farce

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    Boxing must have felt a bit out of place these last two days, watching comparatively well-regulated sports like fencing and badminton stir up all the controversy.

    Questionable officiating?!? Throwing matches?!? Hey! That's our bag.

    And so, on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, boxing gave us its magnum opus of dysfunction, a decision so puzzling and unjust it left NBC commentator Teddy Atlas on the verge of a spittle-induced meltdown.

    The basic rundown:

    Azerbaijan's Magomed Abdulhamidov is leading Japanese fighter Satoshi Shimizu in the closing minutes of a third-round bantamweight bout on Wednesday evening.

    Shimizu sees an opening and wounds Abdulhamidov—badly, to the point where it appears the Azerbaijani fighter can no longer continue.

    The referee refuses to issue a count or call the fight. Six separate times, Abdulhamidov goes down. Six separate times, no count.

    The savagery continues until the final bell, whereby Abdulhamidov is declared the winner on points. It's clear the referee was simply trying to get the wounded fighter to the finish line so that he could advance on decision.

    Don't believe me? Watch the video.

    Today, boxing authorities reversed the decision and banished the referee.

    Welcome back, boxing—we missed your slow descent into corruption-induced irrelevancy.

British Judo Breakthrough

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    Before today, it'd been 12 years since Great Britain captured a judo medal.

    Gemma Gibbons has broken that drought, and in dramatic fashion.

    Still recovering from shoulder surgery and trying to navigate a tricky change in weight class, the London-born judoka defeated reigning world champion Audrey Tcheumeo (France) in a dramatic semifinal match before eventually losing to American Kayla Harrison.

    Gibbons—regarded as a medal contender before today, but not a favorite—was introduced to the sport by her mother, who passed away in 2004 from leukemia.

    According to The Independent, Gibbons, "wept with joy and mouthed the word 'mum'" after her semifinal victory.

A Sick Feeling for Kate Ziegler

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    Kate Ziegler, America's best hope in the women's 800-meter freestyle, will not make the podium in London.

    In fact, the 24-year-old won't even make good on her lone chance at an event final.

    Battling a stomach bug that, according to the Los Angeles Times, restricted her training severely, Ziegler finished a dismal 21st in preliminaries.

    It was an almost unthinkable result for the woman who entered London with the world's third-fastest time.

The Bryan Brothers Scrape by

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    A day after they toppled defending gold medalists Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka, Israeli unknowns Andy Ram and Jonathan Erlich nearly pulled off another stunning upset.

    The journeymen took men's doubles top seed Mike Bryan and Bob Bryan to consecutive tiebreak, losing both, but proving that their Wednesday win was no fluke.

    Despite not earning a single break, the Bryans advance to the semifinal, where they will face a duo comprised of French singles players Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet.

Russia Stuns Brazil on Late 3-Pointer

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    Anchored by NBA mainstays like Nene, Anderson Varejao and Leandro Barbosa, Brazil certainly looks the part of a gold-medal dark horse in men's basketball.

    Problem is, the Brazilians aren't playing like one.

    After struggling to beat Australia and Great Britain in its first two games, Team Brazil dropped a thriller to Russia on Thursday by the score of 75-74.

    After a late push by the Brazilians, Russian guard Vitaliy Fridzon canned a three-pointer with four seconds left to seal the win.

    Brazil now sits third in Group B, a position that will likely draw it a quarterfinal matchup against France.

Tyler Clary Walks the Walk

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    You probably know Tyler Clary as "that guy who talked smack about Michael Phelps."

    Today, you can call him "Olympic champion."

    The self-described "blue collar" swimmer blitzed past fellow American Ryan Lochte and Japan's Ryosuke Irie to take gold in the men's 200-meter backstroke.

    Perhaps Lochte was fatigued. Perhaps his ambitious program got the better of him.

    Whatever it was, I'm guessing Tyler Clary won't dwell on it.

    The victory is Clary's first at a major international meet.

Europe's Ping-Pong Breakthrough

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    You're probably well aware that the nations of Southeast Asia dominate world table tennis.

    And just how thoroughly do they dominate the discipline?

    Before today, it'd been 12 years since any player from outside the region medaled in singles at an Olympic Games.

    The man who broke that streak: Dimitrij Ovtcharov, a Ukrainian-born German athlete whose serve is so spectacularly original that it was listed as one of TIME Magazine's best inventions for 2008.

    In the bronze-medal match, Ovtcharov completed his journey from oddity to champion by defeating Chinese Taipei's Chuan Chih-Yuan.

    On a somewhat related note, no player from the Western Hemisphere has ever medaled in table tennis.

100 Freefallin' for the United States

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    Once again, the United States has proved its superiority in the pool.

    But even amid this golden reign, there have been a few, shall we say, blips.

    In today's women's 100-meter freestyle, for example, the United States failed to place an athlete on the podium for the first time since 1988.

    Missy Franklin and Jessica Hardy—the country's two event entrants—took fifth and eighth, respectively.

    Team USA has won the event seven times, twice more than the next most successful country.