Suhr brings home vault gold
LONDON — For the first time before a big meet, Jenn Suhr heard a positive message from her husband, Rick, who's also her coach.
While sending Jenn onto the field for the Olympic pole vault final Monday night, Rick told her nobody's unbeatable — not even Russian superstar Yelena Isinbayeva, the two-time champion and world-record holder.
And so, Suhr went out and proved him right, defeating Isinbayeva, capturing the gold and giving a nice boost to the United States track and field team, which hasn't been getting many breaks so far at the London Olympics.
"Before I went out here, he said, 'You're going to win this,'" Suhr said. "I've competed 100 times and that's not something he says. It puts that extra spunk that I could do this. Someone else believes in me that much."
When it was over, Suhr rushed over to the stands to see her husband, who gingerly wrapped an American flag around her shoulders while she sobbed into his chest.
A quite different scene from four years ago in Beijing, when Rick was caught on camera berating Suhr after her disappointing runner-up finish to Isinbayeva. Few knew at the time that they were romantically involved and would be married two years later.
Yes, they've come a long way together.
From training in a pair of Quonset huts that Rick connected together to form a jumping pit — the blue-collar practice area in western New York they call "Rocky's Meat Cooler" — to winning an Olympic gold medal on the sport's grandest stage.
Suhr vaulted 15 feet, 7 inches (4.75 meters) to defeat Cuba's Yarisley Silva, who cleared the same height but lost on a tiebreaker because she had one more miss in the competition.
More significantly, Suhr beat Isinbayeva, who failed to become the first woman to win the same individual track and field event at three consecutive Olympics. Isinbayeva settled for bronze with a vault of 15-5 (4.70).
Grenada's Kirani James won the men's 400 meters and 35-year-old Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic took the men's 400-meter hurdles on a rainy night at Olympic Stadium. Other track and field winners included Belarus' Nadzeya Ostapchuk (women's shot put) and Russia's Yuliya Zaripova (women's 3,000-meter steeplechase).
Michael Tinsley was second in the 400 hurdles, but it was a disappointing session for the U.S. overall. The U.S. was without a representative in the 400 final, and it was the first time since the 1980 Moscow Games that someone other than an American won the race.
"It's probably crazy at home right now," James said. "There's probably a road party right now in the streets. I don't think there are any words to describe the celebration right now."
American judo fighter Nick Delpopolo apologized after he was expelled from the Olympics for doping, blaming the disqualification on his unintentional consumption of something baked with marijuana.
Delpopolo is the first of the 10,500 London Games athletes to fail an in-competition doping test.
The International Olympic Committee said it disqualified him from the 73-kilogram class, where he placed seventh. He beat opponents from Hong Kong and Belgium, then lost to fighters from South Korea and Mongolia.
The IOC added that he tested positive for metabolites of cannabis after competing on July 30, the day of his event.
The judoka from Westfield, N.J., said his positive test was "caused by my inadvertent consumption of food that I did not realize had been baked with marijuana" before he left for the Olympics.
"I apologize to U.S. Olympic Committee, to my teammates, and to my fans, and I am embarrassed by this mistake," he said in a statement released by the USOC. "I look forward to representing my country in the future, and will rededicate myself to being the best judo athlete that I can be."
Gabby Douglas was nowhere near the podium this time. The all-around champion, who also helped the United States to team gold, finished last on uneven bars. Russia's Aliya Mustafina rallied to the victory.
"Toward the end of the Olympics, you get mentally and physically tired and you're just like drained," Douglas said. "I tried to fight through it as much as I could."
Mustafina, who injured her left knee in April 2011, gave Russia its first gold in women's gymnastics in London. This completed her medal set following a silver in team competition and bronze in all-around.
Arthur Zanetti finished first on still rings for Brazil's first gymnastics medal, and Yang Hak-seon of South Korea added the gold on vault to his world title.
Americans Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal were knocked out of the men's tournament by Latvia.
The Americans won the first set 21-19, then dropped two straight to Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins, 21-18, 15-11. The other American men's team, Beijing gold medalists Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, had already been eliminated.
Latvia will meet the reigning world champion Brazilian team of Emanuel and Alison, which escaped a set point in the third to beat Poland 21-17, 16-21, 17-15.
The No. 2 Brazilian team of Ricardo and Pedro Cunha lost to Germany, and Reinder Nummerdor and Rich Schuil of the Netherlands beat Italy in the remaining quarterfinal.
Flyweight Marlen Esparza and middleweight Claressa Shields clinched the U.S. team's first two boxing medals. Esparza patiently outboxed Venezuela's Karlha Magliocco, and the 17-year-old Shields closed furiously in an 18-14 win over Swedish veteran Anna Laurell.
Ireland lightweight Katie Taylor and top-seeded flyweight Ren Cancan of China also won in the first women's tournament.
On the men's side, lightweight Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine clinched his second Olympic boxing medal with a 14-9 victory over Puerto Rico's Felix Verdejo, and middleweight Vijender Singh was eliminated in the biggest blow yet to the beleaguered Indian team.
Middleweight Anthony Ogogo and super heavyweight Anthony Joshua each won for the powerful British team.
David McKienzie scored 17 points and the defending champion U.S. men's team clinched a top tournament seed with a victory over winless Tunisia.
Sean Rooney added 12 points in the 25-15, 25-19, 25-19 win, which set up a quarterfinal against Italy on Wednesday.
The United States was coming off a five-set loss to Russia, which ended an 11-match winning streak in Olympic play, dating to the Americans' undefeated march to the gold medal at the Beijing Games.
Bulgaria plays Germany, Poland faces Russia and Argentina plays Brazil in the other quarters.
Matt Emmons finally made his way to the podium in the 50-meter three-position rifle event at the Olympics.
The U.S. marksman held on to win the bronze medal at the London Games. Italy's Niccolo Campriani set Olympic marks of 1,180 in qualifying and 1,278.5 for his overall score, easily topping silver medalist Kim Jong-hyun of South Korea.
Emmons won a 50-meter prone rifle gold at Athens and silver in the event at Beijing, but is best-known for his Olympic three-position misfortunes.
He was the leader with one shot left in three-position at Athens in 2004, then somehow managed to shoot at the wrong target. He was in front again with one shot left in Beijing, but the gun went off before he was aligned with the target.
In men's trap, Giovanni Cernogoraz of Croatia beat world champion Massimo Fabbrizi in a shoot-off for the gold. Kuwait's Fehaid Aldeehani won another shoot-off for the bronze.
Norbert Hosnyanszky scored three times and defending champion Hungary beat the U.S. 11-6 to close out the preliminary stage of the men's tournament.
The Americans have dropped two straight and will face undefeated Croatia in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Hungary plays Italy, Spain takes on Montenegro and Australia faces Serbia in the other quarters.
Tom Slingsby of Australia won the men's Laser class by match-racing closest competitor Pavlos Kontides to the back of the fleet.
Kontides took the silver, the first-ever Olympic medal for Cyprus, the small island nation that started taking part in the games in Moscow in 1980.
A few hours later, as Slingsby was about to receive his gold medal in a harbor-side ceremony, the Aussie crew of Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen came ashore with an unassailable lead in the 49er skiff class.
To collect their medals, Outteridge and Jensen need to make a "genuine effort" to start, sail the course and finish in the medals race Wednesday.
In the women's Laser Radial, Xu Lijia of China won the gold despite having to do a penalty turn on the first downwind leg for rocking the boat. Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands took silver, and Belgium's Evi Van Acker was third.
Ilya Zakharov of Russia led the men's 3-meter springboard preliminaries, with He Chong of China close behind in second during a competition marked by pratfalls.
Zakharov totaled 507.65 points during the six rounds. He, who was ninth after his first dive, totaled 500.90 while opening defense of his Olympic title.
Troy Dumais of the U.S. was third at 486.60 after rallying from sixth in the fourth round.
Two divers scored all zeros, while two others got low scores for badly botching their dives.
Russians Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina head into the duet final as top qualifiers after the preliminary free routine.
Performing to music that included the theme from Tim Burton's "Sleepy Hollow," the Russians added to their leading marks in the preliminary technical to easily claim the top spot in 196.800.
China's Huang Xuechen and Liu Ou were next at 192.810, while Spain's Ona Carbonell and Andrea Fuentes were third at 192.590. The top 12 teams advanced to Tuesday's final.
Three-time Olympic champion Australia was knocked out of the women's tournament when it played a scoreless draw against world champion Argentina.
Argentina advanced to the semifinals with the draw in the finale of pool play. Australia had to win, and it never looked likely.
Germany, the other former Olympic champion in Pool B, also was eliminated with a 0-0 draw with New Zealand.
New Zealand's reward for making it to the semifinals for the first time was a clash with unbeaten defending champ the Netherlands on Wednesday. Britain meets Argentina in the other semi.
Daniel Narcisse scored six goals and defending champion France beat Sweden 29-26 to reach the men's quarterfinals.
France was boosted by a supportive crowd and next faces Spain, which lost 30-25 to two-time Olympic champion Croatia.
Croatia finished on top of Group B with 10 points and is unbeaten heading into its Wednesday quarterfinal against Tunisia.
Iceland crushed Britain 41-24 to remain unbeaten and top Group A with 10 points. It will face Hungary in the next round.
Sweden and Denmark meet in the other quarterfinal.