Phelps: Best Olympic athlete?

By Jay Cohen
AP Sports Writer

LONDON – Five things to know about Wednesday, Day 5 of the London Olympics:

Is Phelps greatest ever? Olympians weigh in.

Badminton flap talk of London Games.

Uchimura on top of men’s gymnastics.

Britain gets first two golds of games.

Venus Williams bounced from tennis singles; Serena advances.

HHH

A day after swimmer Michael Phelps won a record 19th medal, the debate hung over the pool and around Olympic Park.

Greatest Olympian ever?

“He’s won more medals than any Olympian in history,” American teammate Tyler Clary said. “That should speak for itself.”

Phelps put himself in position to add to that total when he advanced Wednesday night to the 200-meter individual medley final. Fellow American Rebecca Soni moved on in the 200 breaststroke, setting a world record in the semis.

Nathan Adrian (100 freestyle) and Daniel Gyurta (200 breaststroke) each won a gold medal.

Adrian of the U.S. closed fast and clocked 47.52 seconds to win by 0.01 ahead of world champion James “The Missile” Magnussen of Australia. Hungary’s Gyurta set a world record when he clocked 2:07.28 in the final.

Colorado’s Missy Franklin also picked up her second gold when the America 4x200-meter relay team passed the Australians on the final return lap of the race.

The crowd booed as the badminton players dumped shots into the net, trying to improve their positioning for the next round. The umpire and tournament referee Torsten Berg issued warnings, imploring them to exert maximum effort.

Badminton’s governing body finally had its say Wednesday, and it wasn’t pleased, either.

Four teams were kicked out of the women’s doubles at the London Games for trying to lose on purpose, and a couple of the sport’s top players said they were embarrassed by the whole episode.

The eight doubles players from China, South Korea and Indonesia were cited by the Badminton World Federation for “conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport.”

“We have to be clear, there has been a problem here, and we have to take that problem very seriously,” BWF secretary general Thomas Lund said. “There are things we can improve on and look at after this competition.”

South Korea and Indonesia appealed the disqualification, but the BWF rejected the South Korean appeal and the Indonesia challenge was withdrawn. China had accepted the federation’s earlier decision.

“We applaud the federation for having taken swift and decisive action,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. “Such behavior is incompatible with the Olympic values.”

The eight disqualified players are world doubles champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China and their South Korean opponents Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na, along with South Korea’s Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung and Indonesia’s Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii.

The players went before a disciplinary hearing Wednesday, a day after spectators booed them after it became clear they deliberately were trying to lose.

Kohei Uchimura wanted to lead Japan to the gold medal in men’s gymnastics, but he struggled in the final and settled for silver.

It was a much different story in the all-around competition.

Uchimura added Olympic gold to the world titles he’s won the last three years, and it never was much of a contest. Midway through the meet, the only question was how big his victory would be and who would be standing next to him on the medals podium.

Uchimura’s score of 92.690 was more than 1.5 points ahead of silver medalist Marcel Nguyen of Germany. American Danell Leyva got the bronze.

“I have been a world champion three times, three years in a row. But this is different,” Uchimura said. “It’s once in four years, and the wait was there. I felt like the demon was chasing me this time.”

Host Britain picked up its first two gold medals of the games when Helen Glover and Heather Stanning won the final of the women’s pair at the rowing regatta, and cyclist Bradley Wiggins took the time trial.

Venus Williams was eliminated in the singles competition at Wimbledon, losing 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) to No. 7-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany. Seeking a record fourth gold medal in Olympic tennis, Williams still has a shot with sister Serena in doubles.

Venus was diagnosed last year with an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue, and she looked weary against Kerber. She wasted a lead in each set.

“I made a few errors, and she hit a few winners, and things can go quickly in tennis,” Williams said.

Serena moved on, routing No. 13 seed Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-0. Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka and Kim Clijsters also advanced.

On the men’s side, Britain’s Andy Murray outlasted Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. Novak Djokovic beat Lleyton Hewitt in three sets, and Roger Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Juan Martin del Potro also won.

The rest of the Olympic action Wednesday:

Fencing

Two-time Olympic sabre champion Mariel Zagunis, who carried the American flag at the opening ceremony, lost her last two matches and failed to make the podium.

Kim Jiyeon of South Korea won the gold, beating Russia’s Sofya Velikaya in the final. Olga Kharlan of Ukraine got the bronze.

Seth Kelsey of the U.S. also dropped his last two matches in men’s individual epee, leaving him without a medal as well. Venezuela’s Ruben Limardo, Norway’s Bartosz Piasecki and Jung Jinsun of South Korea took the top three spots.

Soccer

Britain beat Uruguay 1-0 in its final group game to join fellow medal contenders Brazil and Mexico in the quarterfinals.

Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge scored the winner just before halftime in front of 70,000 fans. The team, which won Group A, is the country’s first in the Olympics since 1960.

Oribe Peralta scored a second-half goal as Mexico topped Switzerland 1-0, and Honduras continued its surprise run by drawing 0-0 with Group D winner Japan to take a place in the last eight.

Egypt, Senegal and South Korea also reached the quarters.

Sailing

Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, the 49er favorites coming into London, extended their lead to 13 points over rivals Peter Burling and Blair Tuke of New Zealand.

France’s Emmanuel Dyen and Stephane Christidis won the first race to jump into third place, where they remained after finishing 10th in the day’s second race.

In the women’s Laser Radial, Ireland’s Annalise Murphy had finishes of 8th and 19th after winning the first four races. The 19th-place finish will be her discard, and she leads the fleet with 12 points.

Diving

China completed a sweep of the synchronized diving events, winning the men’s 3-meter springboard to move halfway toward taking each of the diving gold medals.

Qin Kai and partner Luo Yutong led all six rounds of the final, totaling 477.00 points. Ilya Zakharov and Evgeny Kuznetsov of Russia took the silver at 459.63.

Kristian Ipsen and Troy Dumais of the U.S. earned the bronze at 446.70. It was the first medal of Dumais’ long career in his fourth Olympics, equaling Greg Louganis for most appearances by a male U.S. diver.

Water Polo

Maica Garcia scored twice in the final two minutes as Spain rallied for a 9-9 draw with the United States in the women’s tournament.

Rowie Webster scored five goals in Australia’s easy 16-3 win over Britain. Hungary beat China 11-10, and Russia edged Italy 7-4.

The U.S. plays China on Friday.

Rowing

Germany lived up to its billing as the favorite for the men’s eight, producing a late burst to get the win at Dorney Lake.

Canada captured silver, falling short in its bid to defend its gold medal from Beijing. Britain settled for bronze.

Ukraine won its first Olympic rowing gold medal in women’s quadruple sculls. The Germans took silver and the U.S. was third.

Handball

Andrea Penezic scored 10 goals to help Croatia beat Russia 30-28, leaving Brazil as the only team with three wins in three games.

Ana Paula Rodrigues scored seven goals to power Brazil past Britain 30-17. Spain, France and Montenegro also won, and Norway and South Korea tied at 27.

Field Hockey

Australia overwhelmed Spain 5-0 in the men’s tournament, turning what was expected to be a close match into a rout.

Defending champion Germany beat South Korea 1-0 to move into second position in Group B, behind medal hopeful the Netherlands.

Mink van der Weerden scored twice to lead the Dutch past Belgium 3-1 for their second win of the tournament.

New Zealand and Pakistan also won. Britain and South Africa played to a 2-2 tie.

Table Tennis

China’s first table tennis gold of the games went to Li Xiaoxia, who upset teammate Ding Ning.

Li raced to the stands to get a Chinese flag and waved it around for a few moments, but her celebration was mostly subdued. Usually upbeat and open, Ding cried afterward and suggested Italian referee Paola Bongelli may have cost her a gold medal.

Feng Tianwei of Singapore defeated Kasumi Ishikawa of Japan for bronze. Feng was born in China and was recruited to play in Singapore when it became clear she would not make China’s team.

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