As Michael Phelps flops so far and Ryan Lochte’s fades, 17-year-old Missy Franklin provides the United State’s swimming contingent with golden moments.
With just a 14-minute break between swimming in the semifinal heat, Franklin rallied in the 100-meter backstroke down the stretch to win the gold medal. It figures to be the initial title in an illustrious career.
“Indescribable,” Franklin said of her victory. “I still can’t believe that happened. I don’t even know what to think. I saw my parents’ reaction on the screen and I just started bawling. I can’t even think right now.”
Franklin, who was rattled less than two weeks before the Olympics by the Aurora theater shooting not far from her home, showed tremendous resiliency racing with such a short break following the semis of the 200 freestyle.
She barely advanced in the first race, qualifying for Tuesday night’s final with the eighth-fastest time, but she was clearly saving something for the one with a medal on the line.
Australia’s Emily Seebohm, the top qualifier, led at the turn and was under world-record pace, but Franklin showed a remarkable finishing kick. With her arms whirling, the 6-foot-1 swimmer passed the Aussie in the final 25 meters and lunged toward the wall for a winning time of 58.33 seconds.
She broke into a big smile but was clearly exhausted, her head dropping back against the wall. Seebohm settled for silver in 58.68 and Japan’s Aya Terakawa took bronze in 58.83.
“You never know until you see that scoreboard, so I was just going as fast as I could until I got my hand on the wall,” Franklin said. “It was 110 percent effort, and all the work paid off.”
Phelps missed the podium in his 2012 Olympic debut, and Lochte has turned two straight disappointing performances after opening the Games with a dominant win in the 400 individual medley.
Men Gymnastics Team Falls Hard
The U.S. men’s gymnastic team, a unit with realistic expectations to win the team competition, finished fifth when poor efforts on the pommel horse doomed them.
Pommel horse has always been the American weakest area in gymnastics, and it again was the determining factor. On Monday as Danell Leyva and John Orozco fell off the apparatus. But it wasn’t the only place the U.S. faltered, as Sam Mikulak put his hands down on a tumbling run in floor exercise, and Orozco fell on vault.
With three rotations left, the Americans headed to the vault. If they were going to get to the podium, this was going to be the apparatus where they could get it done because of the high scores they’ve posted on the vault in the past.
Unfortunately, Orozco sat down on his vault. Though Mikulak and Jake Dalton recovered with strong vaults, the hole was too deep to scramble out of. Even their hit, high-scoring routines on high bars and parallel bars couldn’t get the U.S. in bronze contention.
Matt Grevers Wins Gold, Sets Record
Matt Grevers set an Olympic record to win the men’s 100-meter backstroke Monday, outlasting Nick Thoman in a 1-2 finish for the Americans at the London Olympics.
Grevers pulled off a stunning rally on his return lap, winning the 100 back in 52.16 — the fifth straight Olympics, dating to the 1996 Atlanta Games, that the U.S. men have won the backstroke.
The 6-foot-8 Grevers finished 0.38 seconds ahead of the previous mark set by fellow American Aaron Peirsol at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Thoman joined his teammate on the medal podium at 52.97, a finish they were thinking about all along.
“Going into the ready room, we were both just sitting there and we shared a look and shared a thought,” Thoman said. “I think that was in both of our heads.”