A bittersweet day for Team GB as some of the country’s most prized medal hopes crashed out while those with outsider chances produced shock results. No panicked faces yet at the stuttering beginning to Great Britain’s predicted gold rush though – remember that the country’s powerhouse sports such as cycling and rowing are yet to hit the medal stage.
Speaking of rowing, British boats were looking dominant on the water at Eton Dorney in a host of races. Women’s double sculls stars Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins were in particularly imperious form, cruising to an easy victory in their heat and breaking an Olympic Record in the process. Not to be outdone, the Men’s Eight and Four also triumphed in their heats to move a step (or rather a stroke) closer to medal glory.
Britain’s female tennis players were also on impressive form at Wimbledon, with Laura Robson and Heather Watson moving into the third round of the competition with convincing wins. Robson beat Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic while Watson triumphed over Spaniard Silvia Soler Espinosa, both in straight sets. Elena Baltacha failed to join them however, after being defeated by Serbian Ana Ivanovic.
…Waterfield over-rotating and entering the water poorly.
It was a huge day for weightlifter, Zoe Smith, as she made her first appearance in an Olympic Games in the women’s 58kg category. The 18 year old put in a strong performance, finishing 2nd in her group with a total of 211 kg, while also breaking the British record for the clean-and-jerk. It wasn’t enough to propel her onto the podium as she finished twelfth overall in the competition, but she will certainly have her sights firmly set on the 2016 Games as a potential medal opportunity.
When it came to capturing the nation’s attention, the Aquatics Centre was the undoubted centre of focus, as Olympic poster boy, Tom Daley, and his diving partner launched their bid for a place on the podium in the Men’s 10m Synchronised Diving. The pair had a terrific start, finding themselves in first place after three dives ahead of the overwhelming favourites, China. But just as a medal seemed almost assured, their fourth dive proved too much to pull off, Waterfield over-rotating and entering the water poorly. It cost them dearly, as the judges punished them with a cripplingly low score and the pair failed to claw their way back into the top three.
To make matters worse, Daley was then subjected to abuse on Twitter from an individual who accused him of letting down his late father by failing to medal. The comment was retweeted by Daley and sparked a torrent of outrage from fellow Twitter users. While the offending tweeter attempted to apologise, rather belatedly, anger continued to rage online as Twitter users demanded his immediate removal from the website.
…the Japanese were elevated to the silver spot…
Yet amidst the disappointment, a moment of unexpected triumph from Britain’s male gymnasts. There had been no certainty that they would reach the finals of the team event, let alone medal, but after a series of strong individual performances, the team found themselves in second place and on the brink of securing silver medals. But a controversial appeal from the Japanese over a particularly low score from the judges threw their medal chances into doubt. After lengthy consultation, the Japanese were elevated to the silver spot and Britain was forced to settle for bronze. Nevertheless, their delighted expressions in post-competition interviews were an indication of just how unexpected a medal of any shade really was.
Controversies also raged outside the sporting arena, after Swiss footballer, Michel Morganella, was swiftly booted out of the Olympics for making an offensive comment on Twitter about the South Korean team. There was also a two-match ban for Columbian female football player, Lady Andrade, after footage emerged of the player punching a US footballer in the face during their clash on Saturday. Worrying news also emerged for the Great Britain women’s hockey team, who have been in fine form thus far. Following their match against Japan, captain, Kate Walsh, has had to have surgery on her jaw after being hit directly in the face with a hockey stick during Sunday’s match. In true British style, however, she is reportedly determined to play in their upcoming fixtures regardless.
In a day of disappointment and negative controversy, a moment of light relief emerged from, unsurprisingly, Twitter. As the empty seats controversy continued to rage, one cheeky Twitter user decided to set up a page for a lone Olympic seat to chronicle its disappointment, on @olympicseat. Rent Tweets include:
“Seven years I’ve been waiting for this moment. Seven long years, and for what?”
“My grandfather was a seat in the 1948 Olympics. He made it sound so grand. I wanted to follow in his footsteps”
“For a moment there, I thought one of the cleaners was going to sit on me during his break. But he didn’t *sigh*”
With thousands of followers already, it seems the Empty Seat is providing some comic relief for fans disappointed by a lack of medals thus far. Whether Seb Coe and his fellow Olympic organisers will find it quite so amusing is up for debate.