2016 Summer Olympics: Day 10 Winners and Losers
On a night of track and field drama, the Olympic stadium saved the best for last.
A stirring "can-you-top-this?" pole-vault competition kept most fans in their seats until just before midnight. It was worth the wait, especially for the locals, as 22-year-old upstart Thiago Braz da Silva not only won Brazil's second gold of these Olympics, but upset Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie and set an Olympic record of 6.03 meters (19.78 feet).
France's Lavillenie thought he had the gold won and his own Olympic record set when he cleared 5.98. But urged on by a vocal home crowd, Da Silva had the bar set higher.
Nearly forgotten in their duel was U.S. jumper Sam Kendricks, who won bronze clearing 5.85 meters.
Earlier, spectators might have thought the night peaked with David Rudisha's 800-meter victory to win a second-straight Olympic gold in the event. The Kenyan's time of 1:42.15 was less than a half-second faster than Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria, who won the silver.
The surprise of the night was the bronze won by Clayton Murphy, a rising junior at the University of Akron who turned pro just before the Olympic trials. Murphy, 21, unleashed an impressive kick to pass France's Pierre-Ambroise Boss in the last 100 meters, posting a personal-best 1:42.93.
Murphy's bronze is the first medal won by an American in the event since 1992, when Johnny Gray won bronze.
Elsewhere in Rio on this day, we saw Olympic perfection denied, a wrestler body-slamming his coach in celebration and a ballerina-turned-hammer thrower.
Read on for more drama from Day 10.
Emma Coburn became the first American woman to win an Olympic medal (bronze) in the event since 2008, when the 3,000-meter race for women debuted at the Olympics.
Coburn, 25, of Crested Butte, Colo., briefly vied for silver when, in the final two laps, she made up lots of ground before catching Kenya’s Hyvin Jepkemoi at the water jump, but could not hang on.
Bahrain’s Ruth Jebet blazed to the gold medal in 8:59.75, less than one second off the world record. Jepkemoi trailed by more than seven seconds to win silver. Coburn set a new American record for the second-straight time, finishing in 9:07.63.
You'd think with the rising popularity of obstacle-course shows (American Ninja Warrior, mud runs, etc.) in the U.S., this is an event that's bound to draw more people (kids?) in the future. But maybe there's too much running between obstacles, giving the endurance countries—Kenya, Ethiopia—the edge.
In any case, Coburn might be the start of something good.
Loser: U.S. Field Hockey
A sparkling 4-1 record in pool play raised hopes of what would have been one of the best team stories of the Olympics: U.S. women's field hockey, last-place finishers in London, turning it around for a medal in Rio.
Alas, it was not to be. The Americans lost 2-1 to Germany in the quarterfinals Monday—an abrupt end to a glorious run that had major media outlets paying attention to the sport for the first time since...well, we can't remember.
Germany eked its way to a 2-0 lead, but the U.S. closed to within one. With minutes left, the U.S. was a player up after a German penalty, but could not tie.
The U.S. played above its seed in Rio, coming into the Olympics ranked world No. 5 and beating No. 2 Argentina and No. 3 Australia, along with India and Japan, before losing to Great Britain just before the knockout round.
"We came into the tournament hopeful of getting on the podium but were unable to achieve that," said U.S. coach Craig Parnham, per TeamUSA.org. "I'm so proud of what this team has done over the past 3 1/2 years and the strength of the program will only continue to grow. Hopefully we inspired a few Americans to get into the sport and pick a stick."
Winner: Brazil Beach Volleyball
The Olympic beach volleyball venue is Rio's crown jewel, situated on famed Copacabana Beach, where matches are played deep into the night.
It combines both Brazil's volleyball heritage—the sport is second in popularity to soccer—and Rio's love of the night life.
But on Monday, it was a match in broad daylight that stirred the home country, when No. 1 seed Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt defeated Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, 21-14, 12-21, 15-9, to advance to the tournament semifinal.
The two teams, both beach volleyball powerhouses, were expected to not meet until the gold-medal match. Since beach volleyball became an Olympic sport in 1996, Brazil leads all nations with 11 medals. The U.S. is second with nine (though it is on top with six golds).
The two teams entered the match locked at 2-2 all-time. Dalhausser and Lucena were seeded No. 3 and the Brazilians had an early-round loss in Olympic competition, setting up the unfortunate early meeting.
Loser: Gymnastics Perfection
It had to happen, of course, on the balance beam, where the difference between success and failure is a four-inch-wide piece of gymnastics equipment.
Simone Biles, three-for-three in golden opportunities in four days of competition, finally made a mistake during her routine, putting her hands on the beam to keep from falling on a front flip during the individual competition Monday.
The result: After three golds (team, all-around, vault) and five expected, Biles, 19, won bronze, behind teammate Laurie Hernandez (silver) and the Netherlands' Sanne Wevers.
Wevers, competing after Biles, scored an impressive 15.466 to win gold, followed by Hernandez's 15.333. Biles scored 14.733. Wevers said she changed her tactics after Biles' rare mishap.
If it felt like a bit of a consolation prize for Hernandez, 16, who was left off the squad for the all-around competition in favor of Biles, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas, she didn't show it.
Winner: Sophie Hitchon, Hammer
Sophie Hitchon did more than win Great Britain's first hammer throw Olympic medal in 92 years.
In winning bronze, Hitchon, as a Tom Morgan of the Daily Telegraph wrote, has "put the glamour into hammer."
Hitchon, fourth in the 2015 world championships, has a background in ballet. She took lessons for 10 years before leaving ballet at age 14. She said those skills help with the pirouetting footwork needed for hammer, where competitors spin for momentum before releasing a heavy metal ball and cable.
On her final throw in Rio Monday, Hitchon, 25, posted a personal best of 74.54 meters to move from fifth place to win bronze. World champion Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland threw 82.29 meters for gold, breaking her own world record, and Zhang Wenxiu won silver with a throw of 76.75 meters.
Loser: Upright Finishers
You have to think Allyson Felix is kicking herself for not diving across the finish line in the women's 400-meter final Monday night.
Felix, showcasing the kick that helped her win four Olympic gold medals, including the 200-meter title in 2012, seemed to have nipped a diving Shaunae Miller at the line. But finishes are measured by the torso, not the feet.
By flinging her body across the line rather than running through, Miller, 22, of the Bahamas, won first-time Olympic gold. Felix also lost a close one at Olympic trials, missing out on qualifying for the 200 by a hundredth of a second.
Miller posted a time of 49.44 seconds in a finish that left her sprawled on the track and uncertain if she or Felix won. Turns out, she was the new Olympic champion. America's Felix, 30, won silver in 49.51 and Jamaica's Sharika Jackson, 22, took bronze in a time of 49.85.
Felix now has seven Olympic medals, making her the most-decorated U.S. woman in track and field.
Miller's might have been the most prominent finish-line dive of the night, but it wasn't the only desperate one.
Following a drenching rain, Brazil's Joao Vitor De Oliveira threw himself across the finish line in the 110-meter hurdles to finish fourth, qualifying for Tuesday's semifinal in 13.63, one-tenth of a second ahead of fifth-place finish Antonio Alkana of South Africa.
Winner: Mijain Lopez, Wrestling
Cuba's Mijain Lopez is tough on opponents.
He might be even tougher on his coach.
Lopez, 33, made history Monday when the 6'5" Greco-Roman super heavyweight (130kg/286 lbs) won his third-straight Olympic title in wrestling. He defeated longtime rival Riza Kayaalp of Turkey, 6-0.
Lopez celebrated by first dancing like a boxer, then body-slamming his coach.
Lopez now joins Russian great Aleksander Karelin as the only Greco-Roman wrestlers to win three straight Olympic golds. For wrestling fans and experts, the "who's best" debate is officially open.
He did it by defeating Kayaalp, the 2015 world champion. They have met twice in the worlds finals, with Lopez winning in 2014. In 2012, Lopez, a five-time world champion, beat Kayaalp in the Olympic semifinals.
Loser: Aurelie Muller, Marathon Swim
Reigning world distance swimmer Aurelie Muller finished second in the Olympic 10-kilometer swim Monday but was disqualified after officials ruled she cut off Italy's Rachele Bruni at the finish line.
Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands won gold in 1:56:32.21, Bruni won silver and Brazil's Poliana Okimoto, just a few seconds back, was elevated to bronze in the open water swim just off Copacabana beach.
The results were overshadowed by the disqualification, which came when, just feet from the finish, Muller appeared to veer to avoid a large inflatable buoy and swam partially over Bruni at the line. Competitors reach to slap a finish board a few feet above the finish to record a time.
“The French swimmer has sunk me. At the finish she obstructed me and I could not touch the board. I am glad of the decision of the judges,” Bruni told Italian media, according to James Leyfield of the Sun.
The French sound like they won't appeal.
“In sports, there is always injustice unfortunately. It’s like that," said Philippe Lucas, Muller’s coach, to France’s RMC Sport (h/t the Sun). "But it’s not worth crying for 50 years. The podium is made, it’s dead. It’s over.”
Meanwhile, it would be hard to find a swimmer happier than Okimoto, who won the first swimming medal of the Games for Brazil.
“It’s the best result for Brazilian women's swimming in history,” Okimoto said, per Daniel Schofield of the Daily Telegraph. “God is Brazilian.”
Winner: Great Britain's Medal Count
Great Britain's Rio Games are going so well that British media members are daring to think the unthinkable: Could Britain finish ahead of China in the medal table?
After a big weekend, British athletes kept winning medals on Monday to keep pace with China. As of late Monday, Great Britain stood second with 16 golds (41 overall) to 15 golds (46 overall) for China. The U.S. leads big, with 26 golds (72 overall).
Great Britain, which last won the medal count as host in 1908, finished an admirable third in medals behind the U.S. and China in the 2012 Games. It has never finished second in a Games and has never beaten China, which made its Olympic debut in 1984.
Ben Rumsby of the Daily Telegraph wrote that the feat would be "astonishing and unprecedented," citing China's population of 1.4 billion to Britain's 65 million.
Among medals won on Monday, British equestrian rider and world-record-holder Charlotte Dujardin and horse Valegro won repeat gold in individual dressage, track cyclist Mark Cavendish managed silver in the omnium, despite a crash that sent one rider to the hospital, and hammer thrower Sophie Hitchon won surprise bronze.
The country's total was boosted by a banner Saturday, when Britain won five golds, including two by gymnast Max Whitlock and one each by tennis player Andy Murray and golfer Justin Rose. The golds were the most in one day at an away Games (Britain, as host, won six in 2012).
More gold is expected in coming days from the Brits, especially in sailing and cycling events.