2016 Olympics Aug. 10 recap: Stanford swimmers anchor gold-medal winning relay for Team USA
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Through the first five days of action in Brazil, the Olympic Aquatic Center has turned into a nightly site for Pac-12 highlights. Wednesday proved to be no different, as the Conference of Champions produced a gold, a silver and a bronze medal.
But the day also featured some drama for the Team USA hoops squad, intense action on the rugby pitch and more dominance on Copacabana Beach from America’s top volleyball duo. Take a look at the Pac-12’s top storylines from Wednesday.
To cap off Day 5 from Rio, 2015 Stanford grad Maya DiRado and incoming Stanford freshman sensation Katie Ledecky swam the final two legs of the final race of the night: the 4 x 200 freestyle relay. Once DiRado touched the wall, 0.89 seconds behind Australia, the anchor Ledecky jumped into the pool. You might be able to guess what happened next.
Ledecky swiftly turned a deficit into a lead, jumping ahead by the second lap and widening her lead from there. The 19-year-old prodigy touched at the 7:43.03 mark, 1.84 seconds ahead of Australia, to pick up her third gold and fourth medal overall in Rio. Ledecky’s not done, either, as she’s considered the favorite to win the 800m freestyle on Thursday. For DiRado, it marked her second gold and third medal to finish off her 2016 Olympic experience.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 11, 2016
Earlier in the evening, Stanford alum Simone Manuel finished the 100m freestyle semifinals in 53.11 seconds to earn the third-fastest qualifying time in Thursday’s final. Former Cal Golden Bear Abbey Weitzel also secured the last spot in the eight-woman final with a time of 53.53.
Speaking of Golden Bears, there were plenty of them making their presence felt in the pool on Thursday night. Josh Prenot took home the silver in the 200m breaststroke, Nathan Adrian won a bronze in an entertaining 100m freestyle final, and Ryan Murphy and Jacob Pebley both advanced to Thursday’s 200m breaststoke final.
The 100m freestyle race proved to be a thrilling one full of lead changes. USC alum Santo Condorelli led through the first portion of the race, before fading and it appeared to be Adrian’s to win, until 17-year-old Aussie Kyle Chambers (47.58) finished strong to claim the victory. Adrian (47.85) finished third while trying to defend his 2012 gold medal in the event, as Condorelli (47.88) just missed out on a trip to the podium.
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Prenot led his 200m final through the final turn but was overtaken on the fourth lap by gold-medalist Dmitriy Balandin (2:07.46), a surprise winner in from Kazakhstan. Prenot finished with a 2:07.53 to get the silver, while Arizona swim legend Kevin Cordes finished eighth with a time of 2:08.34.
A night after winning the 100m backstroke in Olympic-record-setting fashion, Murphy won his heat in the 200m semifinals with a time of 1:55.15 to earn a spot in Thursday’s final. Pebley, a fellow senior from Cal, swam his semifinal even faster, as his time of 1:54.92 checked in as the third-best qualifying time for the final.
WOMEN’S BEACH VOLLEYBALL
Outstanding Pac-12 duo of Kerri Walsh-Jennings (Stanford) and April Ross (USC) played their most competitive match of the Olympics so far, claiming a 2-1 win over Swiss partners Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Verge-Depre. The 24-22 second-set victory by Switzerland marked the first time Walsh-Jennings and Ross have dropped a set in Rio. But the veteran duo responded by closing out the final set and pushing its record to 3-0 to advance to the round of 16.
As expected, the United States men’s hoops team faced a stiff test against the Australians on Wednesday. After rolling to huge victories against China and Venezuela to begin the tournament, Team USA needed a strong fourth-quarter finish to claim a 98-88 victory.
Team USA Pac-12 alums were relatively quiet throughout the evening: Klay Thompson hit a pair of 3-pointers for 6 points while DeMar DeRozan was held scoreless off the bench. But Andrew Bogut (Utah) was a major force on both ends for the Boomers, with 15 points and 3 blocks. Meanwhile Thompson’s WSU teammate Aron Baynes struggled with foul trouble all night and scored 4 points while grabbing 2 rebounds. Fellow Cougar alum Brock Motum missed his only shot on the evening.
Team USA volleyball became the first team to punch its ticket to the quarterfinals on Wednesday by claiming a 3-1 win over Serbia. Former Stanford star Foluke Akinradewo continued her role as the starting middle blocker for the American side, recording 12 kills with a 57.89 hit percentage. Ex-UCLA star Karsta Lowe also saw some game action, adding four kills to the team’s total. Team USA is now 3-0, and will wrap up its group play with Friday’s match against Italy and Sunday’s against China.
— USA Volleyball (@usavolleyball) August 10, 2016
MEN’S WATER POLO
Desperate for a victory after dropping its first two contests of the Olympics, Team USA got in the win column with a stifling defensive effort against France to claim a 6-3 win. UCLA alum Josh Samuels scored a hat trick to pace Team USA, which continues group play with a match against Montenegro on Friday.
USC product Kostas Genidounias scored a couple of goals in Greece’s 8-8 tie with Hungary, while fellow Trojan alum Joel Dennerley stopped 9 of 13 shots as Australia’s goalie in Wednesday’s 8-6 win against Japan.
The American side nearly knocked off top seed Fiji on Wednesday, but suffered a 24-19 loss to drop them to the 9-12 bracket of qualifying. Later in the day, Team USA rolled past Brazil for the second time in two days with a 24-12 win, setting them up with a ninth-place match against Spain on Thursday.
Cal rugby star Danny Barrett opened the scoring against Fiji with a try, as Team USA built a 14-12 lead early in the second half, but Fiji closed the game out on a 12-5 run to earn the victory. Barrett also scored against Brazil, giving him three tries in four Olympic matches.
— Cal Varsity Rugby (@CalVarsityRugby) August 10, 2016
Of the four women’s hoopers with Pac-12 ties on Team Canada, Kim (Smith) Gaucher led the way with seven points in Wednesday’s 68-58 win over Senegal. Fellow former Utah basketball players Michelle Plouffe (2 pts) and Shona Thorburn (0 pts) came off the bench, along with former UCLA star Nirra Fields who was limited to 1 point.
The first rainy day in Rio for the Olympics slowed down former USC tennis star Steve Johnson, who was slated to play third-round singles and semifinals doubles matches on Wednesday. The poor conditions postponed the matches until a later date, though rescheduled times have yet to be announced.