Chinese shooter wins first gold of London Olympics
LONDON — The London Olympics moved into competition mode on Saturday to award the first gold medal and announce its first doping case as Britain awoke euphoric after a stunning opening ceremony.
Queen Elizabeth II toured the Olympic Park and Chinese shooter Yi Siling captured gold in the women’s 10-meter air rifle. On the negative side, The International Olympic Committee banned Albanian weightlifter Hysen Pulaku after he tested positive for a banned steroid, stanozolol, on July 23.
Superstar swimmer Michael Phelps, meanwhile, barely qualified for his final and Beijing 400-meter champion Park Tae-hwan of South Korea was disqualified in a surprising opening session at the Aquatics Centre.
Phelps, who won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, qualified only eighth-fastest for the night final of the 400-meter individual medley.
“That one didn’t feel too good,” he said.
Olympic champion Park touched the wall first in his 400 freestyle heat, but was disqualified for a false start. South Korea later filed a protest in an attempt to get the decision overturned before the night final.
Two other finals were scheduled on Saturday night — the women’s 400 IM and 4x100-meter freestyle relay.
On Friday night, the British monarch was one of the hits of the opening ceremony that was heralded in the local media as “breathtaking and bonkers” and which had placed the city at the “centre of the world.”
The queen provided the highlight of Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle’s high-adrenaline show. With film trickery, Boyle made it seem that Britain’s 86-year-old monarch parachuted into the stadium with James Bond star Daniel Craig.
“Boyle’s inventive ceremony grabs the license and thrills,” said The Guardian, and all of Britain agreed.
London mayor Boris Johnson said the four-hour long ceremony was “stupefying.”
“The big anxiety we had was, could we do something that would rival Beijing,” said Johnson. “I think we knocked the spots off it.”
Johnson, a conservative, said he was delighted with the political parts of the show. “The thing I loved was the heavy political stuff. I loved the emergence of the urban proletariat and the rise of the chimneys and the forging of the ring.”
The cycling road race got under way Saturday morning and, with it, Britain’s best chance for an early gold medal that would extend the national celebration.
Mark Cavendish, riding alongside fellow Briton and Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, was among the starters for the 250-kilometre race which passed some of London’s most iconic landmarks and out into the Surrey countryside southwest of London. Huge crowds lined the course.
British team manager Dave Brailsford said Cavendish was the focus of his team.
“There’s no doubt they are riding for one rider,” Brailsford said. “They’ve got no aspirations for themselves. It’s all for Cav. We have all our eggs in one basket.”
After Prince Charles was introduced to the British team, the race started on a processional pace from the Mall, near Buckingham Palace with the peloton heading southwest through the city.
Finals were also scheduled in the women’s 48-kilogram class in weightlifting, two in judo, the men’s team final in archery and women’s individual foil in fencing.