Lochte is first American gold

USA finds gold in the Olympic pool, and it’s not Michael Phelps

Ryan Lochte made one of the biggest impressions Day 1 of the London Olympics on Saturday, roaring to victory in the 400-meter individual medley while countryman Michael Phelps finished fourth. It was Phelps’ first Olympic race without a medal since 2000. Enlarge photo

Daniel Ochoa De Olza/Associated Press

Ryan Lochte made one of the biggest impressions Day 1 of the London Olympics on Saturday, roaring to victory in the 400-meter individual medley while countryman Michael Phelps finished fourth. It was Phelps’ first Olympic race without a medal since 2000.

LONDON

Five things to know about Saturday, Day 1 of the London Olympics:

Ryan Lochte wins first U.S. gold, Michael Phelps fourth in 400 IM.

Brits struggle in cycling as AlexandreVinokourov wins the road race.

Serena Williams, Roger Federer advance at the All England Club at Wimbledon.

The U.S. men lead the surprising British in gymnastics qualifying.

Hey, there’s the new Bond Girl! It’s the queen.

Lochte won the 400-meter individual medley, China collected several gold medals, and Australia set an Olympic record while winning the women’s 400 freestyle relay.

Oh, and Phelps went without a medal in an Olympic race for the first time since 2000.

It was quite the opening night at the pool.

After barely qualifying for the final, Phelps struggled to a fourth-place finish and was denied his 17th career Olympic medal. When it was done, he barely could get out of the pool.

Lochte took the gold with a time of 4 minutes, 5.18 seconds. Brazil’s Thiago Pereira (4:08.86) settled for silver, while Japan’s Kosuke Hagino (4:08.94) claimed the bronze.

“I think I’m kind of in shock right now,” Lochte said. As for his defeated rival Phelps, “I know he gave it everything he had. That’s all you can ask for.”

The women’s 400 individual medley went to 16-year-old Ye Shiwen, who set a world record with a time of 4:28.43. It was the third mark to fall since high-tech bodysuits were banned at the end of 2009.

American Elizabeth Beisel took silver, and China’s Li Xuanxu grabbed the bronze.

Sun Yang flirted with a world record in the men’s 400 freestyle. He took gold in 3:40.14, just off the mark of 3:40.07 by Germany’s Paul Biedermann in a rubberized suit three years ago.

South Korea’s Park Tae-hwan was the silver medalist in 3:42.06, and American Peter Vanderkaay took the bronze in 3:44.69.

Australia finished the 400-free relay in 3:33.15, Netherlands won the silver and the Americans bronze.

The U.S. finish was enough to deliver a 12th medal to Natalie Coughlin, who matched Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson for most decorated U.S. female Olympian. Coughlin swam in the morning prelims but wasn’t used in the evening; everyone who swims on a relay gets a medal.

After hosting a dazzling opening ceremony Friday night, Britain got off to a shaky start on the first full day of action when favored cycling star Mark Cavendish finished 28th in the road race.

Kazakhstan’s Vinokourov, who has said he will retire from cycling after the games, won gold. Rigoberto Uran Uran of Colombia took silver, and Alexander Kristoff of Norway won a mass sprint for the bronze.

“The guys all sat there in the tent absolutely spent. We did everything we could,” Cavendish said. “We didn’t expect any help. We rode the race we wanted to ride.”

Wimbledon champions Federer and Williams each won their opening matches – one struggled, one didn’t.

Federer, a four-time Olympian, overcame a jittery patch and beat Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. The top-ranked Swiss star was a point from victory in the second set, then lost three of his next four service games. But he recovered in time to avoid the upset.

U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama watched from the front row of Williams’ box as the fourth-seeded American beat former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 6-3, 6-1 on Centre Court.

Cavendish and his troubles aside, his countrymen got off to a terrific start in men’s gymnastics – almost as good as the USA.

While perennial powerhouses China and Japan bobbled and wobbled their way through qualifying, the Americans proved they really do have the goods to contend for the gold medal. They didn’t count a single fall, and their final score of 275.342 is almost three points ahead of Britain.

Britain, which only was good enough to send two gymnasts to Beijing four years ago, got a spectacular pommel horse by Louis Smith and finished with a score of 272.420.

“It’s just a dream competition really,” said Smith, the British captain.

Fresh from her star turn as the latest Bond Girl, Queen Elizabeth II returned to Olympic Park for an encore.

The queen visited with British Olympians in the athletes village and rode to the top of the 377-foot Orbit tower beside the stadium, where Friday night she officially opened the 2012 Games. Her husband, Prince Philip, and London Mayor Boris Johnson accompanied her.

In describing her role in the opening ceremony, created by director Danny Boyle, Johnson said the queen had told him she was “very, very impressed with the success of her first film appearance, her first dramatic venture. It was very funny and seems to have gone down particularly well with the international audiences.”

The show-stopping moment featured the queen making her acting debut alongside Daniel Craig, who portrayed James Bond in a film beamed into the stadium.

The rest of the Olympic action Saturday:

Beach Volleyball

The Olympics’ sexiest sport opened with a raucous debut, mixing in a little local flair with all of the more traditional trifles that have made the event one of the most sought-after tickets in London (though Sir Paul McCartney managed to get one for the afternoon session).

A dance team in bathing suits jiggled for the sold-out crowd during timeouts, while rock music nearly drowned out the pealing of Big Ben.

Located just inside the gate used by the queen – and only the queen – to ride up to Buckingham Palace, the beach volleyball venue offers views of the London Eye, the Big Ben clock tower and 10 Downing Street.

Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor, who are trying for a third consecutive gold medal, beat Australians Tasmin Hinchley and five-time Olympian Natalie Cook in the final match 21-18, 21-19. The No. 2 U.S. men’s team of Sean Rosenthal and Jake Gibb needed just 33 minutes to put away South Africans Freedom Chiya and Grant Goldschmidt.

Boxing

Americans Joseph Diaz Jr. and Terrell Gausha posted impressive victories on the first day of the boxing competition.

Diaz looked sharp in a 19-9 victory over Ukraine bantamweight Pavlo Ishchenko in the tournament’s opening bout, while Gausha knocked down Armenian middleweight Andranik Hakobyan twice in the final 7 seconds of his middleweight bout, winning by stoppage with no time on the clock.

Georgian middleweight Merab Turkadze forfeited his evening bout after failing to make weight, allowing Algeria’s Amine Mohammed Ouadahi to win by walkover.

Table Tennis

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates will be thrilled when they get the news: 16-year-old American Ariel Hsing is into the second round in Olympic table tennis.

She defeated Yadira Silva of Mexico in four consecutive games on the opening day. With none of the top 16 players and favored Chinese entering competition until the third round, Hsing made the most of her first Olympic appearance.

Buffett met Hsing when she was only 9 and two years later invited her to play against shareholders at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting. She returned earlier this year after winning a spot on the U.S. team and took a few points off Buffett and Gates.

Volleyball

Destinee Hooker had 21 points, and the United States held off late-charging South Korea 3-1 in their opening match.

The fans at Earls Court chanted “Des-tin-ee! Des-tin-ee!” at one point as she dominated in the 25-19, 25-17, 20-25, 25-21 victory.

The U.S., which won the silver medal in Beijing and is ranked No. 1 in the world, jumped out to a 17-11 lead in the first set after one of Hooker’s seemingly effortless spikes, helping set the tone for the match.

Archery

Italy won gold in the men’s team event, beating the U.S. by one point on the final shot. It was America’s first medal of the games.

Michele Frangilli, Marco Galiazzo and Mauro Nespoli hugged and raised their hands in celebration after the final arrow beat the U.S. 219-218 at Lord’s Cricket Ground. It was Italy’s first-ever gold in the event.

Rowing

The United States and Germany won heats in the blue-riband men’s eight, leaving a host of top crews to vie for places in the final.

Only one crew progresses from each heat. The Germans, unbeaten in three years, finished a half length ahead of Britain at Dorney Lake. Olympic champion Canada came in last in a race fit for the final.

The U.S. beat Australia by a half length to reach Wednesday’s final.

Equestrian

Australia took the early lead in Olympic equestrian eventing at Greenwich Park, with Germany and the United States close behind.

Half the 50 riders rode their dressage test that starts the three-phase competition, which includes cross-country and show jumping.

In the individual competition, Germany’s Ingrid Klimke had a sparkling dressage test to score 39.3 penalty points, followed by teammate Dirk Schrade on King Artus with 39.8 and Mary King of Britain with 40.9 on Imperial Cavalier.

Several teams, including favorites Britain and New Zealand, did not have a complete rotation of three riders, so team standings still are preliminary.

American riders included Boyd Martin of Cochranville, Pa., scoring 50.7 penalty points on Otis Barbotiere; Karen O’Connor of The Plains, Va., earning 48.2 on Mr. Medicott; and Tiana Coudray of Ojai, Calif., with 52.0 on Ringwood Magister.

Fencing

Elisa Di Francisca completed an Italian sweep in the Olympics’ individual foil, winning the gold 12-11 in overtime against countrywoman Arianna Errigo.

Errigo beat three-time defending champion Valentina Vezzali 15-12 in the semifinals, denying her Italian teammate a chance to become the first female athlete to win individual gold at four consecutive Olympics.

The 38-year-old Vezzali won a tense battle for bronze 13-12 against top-ranked Nam Hyun-Hee of South Korea.

Judo

Sarah Menezes of Brazil and Arsen Galstyan of Russia won the first two golds in the judo competition.

The second-ranked Menezes beat defending Olympic champion Alina Dumitru of Romania in the women’s 48-kilogram final. Galstyan defeated one of the 60-kg favorites, Hiroaki Hiroaka of Japan, for his first Olympic medal.

Shooting

South Korean marksman Jin Jong-oh won the 10-meter air pistol gold medal, improving on his silver in Beijing. Italian police officer Luca Tesconi won the silver, and Andrija Zlatic of Serbia took the bronze.

Top-ranked Yi Siling of China captured the first gold medal of the Olympics in the women’s 10-meter air rifle at Royal Artillery Barracks. Sylwia Bogacka of Poland took the silver for her first major medal, and Yu Dan of China went home with the bronze.

Badminton

Former champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia opened his last Olympics with a comfortable 21-8, 21-8 win over Petr Koukal of the Czech Republic in group play.

Other winners included European champion Marc Zwiebler of Germany, Son Wan-ho of South Korea, Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark and Kevin Cordon of Guatemala, last year’s surprise world championship quarterfinalist in the same Wembley Arena.

In women’s action, gold medal contender Li Xuerui of China handled Claudia Rivero Modenesi of Peru 21-5, 21-6 in 22 minutes.

Handball

Defending champion Norway lost 24-23 to France in their Group B opener in women’s handball.

Three-time Olympic champion Denmark got a victory in Group B, edging Sweden 21-18.

Brazil, Russia, South Korea and Montenegro also won their matches.

Weightlifting

Wang Mingjuan of China won the first gold medal of the weightlifting competition, taking the women’s 48-kilogram title with a total weight of 205 kilograms. The four-time world champion dominated the competition.