Olympics 2012 Results: Biggest Surprises from Day 12
The 2012 Summer Olympics may be heading into the final weekend of competition, but that just magnifies the element of surprise as well.
Drama, pandemonium, bedlam—whatever generalization you want put there—suffice in describing what occurred on Day 12. Regardless of the event, nothing was guaranteed and some monumental upsets made for hair-pulling emotions at the 30th Olympiad.
Ahead, here are the most shocking and awe-inspiring events from Wednesday.
Derek Miles Fails to Clear a Mark
During the 2008 Summer Olympics, Derek Miles cleared a height of 18'8.25" (5.70 meters) and took fourth place overall in the pole-vault competition.
He was expected to contend for a medal in London after making a third Olympics, but failed to clear his initial height of 17'0.75" (5.20 meters). Coming from a guy whose personal best is 19'1" (outdoor), failing to clear a height that's roughly two feet less is extremely surprising.
Now, he is turning 40 years old next month; however, he had vaulted over 18'4.5" at the U.S. Olympic trials, so bowing out in the qualification round was quite a shock.
Claressa Shields Puts 'Em Up for Gold
Claressa Shields is easily one of the best stories of the 2012 Olympics.
Despite only being 17 years old, Shields is the lone American boxer who has qualified for the gold-medal bout. No U.S. boxer in the men's competition even managed to medal, while Shields is already making history.
These London Games are the first ever Olympiad in which women's boxing is a competition. And for the USA to have such a young Olympian with a "golden" opportunity, this milestone will be remembered not just in boxing, but American and Olympic history as well. And it is worthy of the utmost recognition.
Not to mention, fellow American boxer Marlen Esparza took bronze in the flyweight division.
Pandemonium in Men's Kayak Doubles 1,000-Meter
For starters, the German duo of Martin Hollstein and Andreas Ihle failed to repeat as gold medalists in the men's kayak doubles 1,000-meter sprint.
Interestingly enough, though, they finished with a faster time in 2012 (3 minutes and 10.117 seconds) compared to Beijing in 2008 (3:11.809). So despite improving, the Germans only came away with bronze.
Secondly, the winning Hungarian tag team of Rudolf Dombi and Roland Kokeny didn't even compete at the previous Summer Games. Plus, not only did they win, but it was in nail-biting fashion over Portugal's Fernando Pimenta and Emanuel Silva by just 0.053 seconds.
Insane in the membrane, insane in the brain.
Hungary for Gold in Men's Team Handball
Iceland entered the 2012 Olympics with a mission: Win gold in men's team handball, period.
After taking silver at the 2008 Summer Games, it's reasonable to suspect that Iceland was going to make a strong run in handball. And it made a statement by going unbeaten in group play, as well as winning by an average of 33-26.
Hungary, on the contrary, didn't even compete in handball four years ago and went just 2-3 in group play to barely qualify for the quarterfinals.
Then the unthinkable happened, and Hungary outlasted Iceland, 34-33, to move on to the semifinals. In a game that took two overtimes, this was arguably the most exciting match in London of any event.
Major Upset in First Day of Taekwondo
Yulis Mercedes Reyes of the Dominican Republic won silver in taekwondo at the Beijing Games four years ago and entered London on a roll.
With a bronze at the 2011 World Championships and gold at the Pan American Games, Reyes was reasonably expected to make another run at gold. He then ran into Yemen's Tameen Ahmed, who went on a tear in Round 3 of the match.
Up, 3-1, through two rounds, Reyes gave up seven straight points. Ahmed landed a kick to the head (which is worth three points) and added four one-point kicks to the chest.
It just goes to show no lead is safe, especially in a sport that moves as fast as taekwondo.
Defending Gold Medalist Gets Dropped in Women's Wrestling
Canada's Carol Huynh won gold in Beijing in the women's 48-kilogram weight class and was planning an encore performance in London.
The 2011 Pan American Games champion began her 2012 Olympics by wrestling without allowing a point through her first two matches. She then ran into a buzzsaw in Japan's Hitomi Obara, who, despite never competing in the Olympics, has eight world-championship titles to her credit.
Huynh was dominated in the first period and failed to win the second, which would have forced a third period. It may have been a colossal matchup on paper, but Obara made it look easy.
Down Goes Another Defending Gold Favorite
Team USA's men's indoor volleyball team won gold in Beijing and was looking to repeat that performance in London.
And after winning their group with a 4-1 record, the Americans were the favorites to take first again at the Olympics.
Well, Italy was not fazed by USA's stature and not only pulled off the upset victory, but did so by smashing the favored opposition.
Winning in straight sets (3-0), the Italians outlasted the U.S. in the first and then won Sets 2 and 3 by five points each. The Americans' confidence was busted after Set 1, and Italy was in bulldoze mode from start to finish.
The question now is whether the Italians can keep up the momentum and not get overconfident.
Italy Takes Deja Vu into the Pool
The Hungarians have won gold in three straight Summer Olympics for men's water polo, and 2012 was to be no different.
Along the same lines as the Soviet Union from the 1960s and '70s in ice hockey, Hungary had been eerily similar in dominance when it came to water polo. The Italians, however—much like their fellow countrymen in men's volleyball—were not to be denied against a heavily favored opponent.
Despite taking ninth place at the Beijing Games, the Italians did win gold at the 2011 World Championships. So, they definitely began London with much more confidence and it unexpectedly was on display, as Italy upset Hungary, 11-9, in the quarterfinals.
Hungary's only lead came early on, at 1-0, but the Italians quickly equaled it and never looked back. Hungary clearly was never used to playing from behind, and the surprising exit became inevitable.
Unfortunately, DQ Stands for Disqualification...Not Dairy Queen
Dayron Robles is the men's 110-meter hurdles world-record holder, with a time of 12.87 seconds.
In addition, Robles was also the defending Olympic gold medalist from 2008 and had tacked on a Pan American Games title to his resume.
Entering the final at the London Games, Robles had run the second-fastest semifinal time, at 13.10 seconds, to USA's Aries Merritt (12.94).
Then, the most frustrating thing possible happened to Robles in the final while attempting to defend his Olympic gold...
...He was disqualified for not finishing.
According to the Associated Press (via NBC Olympics):
Robles, the world-record holder, began limping early and came to a stop after clearing the sixth hurdle, then shoved another barrier down to the track.
On the bright side, at least he remains the world-record holder.
3 Is a Magic Number
They weren't the favorites and weren't considered the world's best entering the London Games, but Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor pulled off the beach-volleyball hat trick.
Although they were the two-time gold-medal defenders, Walsh and May-Treanor had an insane amount of pressure to live up to—and in more surprising fashion, they simply blasted the opposition.
In group play, the American duo went undefeated and dropped just one set while taking six of its own.
Qualifying for the bracket, Walsh and May-Treanor did not lose one set the rest of the way. The Americans swept Marleen Van Iersel and Sanne Keizer of the Netherlands and then Italy's Marta Menegatti and Greta Cicolari, 2-0, to make the semifinals.
There, USA's best tag team remained perfect through China's Xue Chen and Zhang Xi to reach the gold-medal match. Facing their U.S. counterparts—Jennifer Kessy and April Ross—Walsh and May-Treanor brought home their own triple crown, taking each set, 21-16.
For as great as everyone is in the Olympics, winning is impressive—but doing so by dropping just one set the entire competition is completely unfathomable.
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