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Olympic 10: Ageless wonders, precocious teens

07/29/2012 11:50 EDT | Updated 09/28/2012 05:12 EDT
Day 2 of the Olympics featured great performances in diving and gymnastics for Canada and a big French upset over the Americans in the swimming pool.

Here's a top 10 of a kind featuring some other remarkable, strange and surprising happenings across the venues of the London Games.

One for Oen

The men's 100 metre breaststroke was chock full of storylines. Japan's Kosuke Katijima was trying to become the first men's swimmer to win gold in the same event in three consecutive games, while 30-year-old American Brendan Hansen was back in the hunt after deciding retirement following the Beijing Games didn't suit him.

Hansen was able to secure bronze in Sunday's final while Katijima struggled, finishing sixth.

Looming for most of the competitors was the absence of Norwegian Alexander Dale Oen, Beijing silver medallist and defending world champion.

Oen, 26, died of cardiac arrest in May while training in Arizona.

Frequent training partner Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa penned a moving tribute on his website the week of Oen's death, writing: "I’m sorry that you won't have the chance to fulfill your dream in London. I will try in your honour."

Van Der Burgh touched first Sunday, winning gold in 58.83 seconds to break Katijima's Olympic record.

"I just have to pay tribute to Alex Oen," van der Burgh said. "I know that he's been with me this year and helped me to finish the race in such a strong manner. Alexander pushed me in training, it made me realize I had to go faster to win the gold medal, that is what we trained for and that is what we have achieved."

2 stunning swims

China's Ye Shiwen, 16, was the precocious teen in the pool of Day 1, setting a world record to take gold in the 400 individual medley.

On Sunday it was 15-year-old Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte, who lives and trains in Britain. Meilutyte swam a personal best 1:05.56 in the breaststroke prelims to serve notice that she could be a podium finisher in Monday's final.

In the semifinals later in the day she nearly set an Olympic record with a 1:05:21 showing. It was the fourth fastest time ever.

3 times his body weight

North Korea's Om Yun Chol, all of five feet and 123 pounds, won a gold medal by confidently lifting an Olympic record 370 pounds in the clean and jerk Sunday at the London Games.

"How can any man possibly lift 168kg?" Om was as saying by the internal Olympic News Service. "I believe the great Kim Jong Il looked over me."

4th for ageless wonder

There were other storylines at North Greenwich Arena in gymnastics in addition to the disappointment for American teen Jordyn Wieber and the exultation of the Canadian women's team.

Oksana Chusovitina, 37, qualified for the vault in fourth place for Germany. Chusovitina, who has a 12-year-old son, has won Olympic gold and silver in a Games career that stretches back to 1992.

Jordan Jovtchev, 39, qualified in the rings for Bulgaria on Saturday but wrist and bicep injuries make his participation in the final uncertain.

5th time for Rhode to podium

Kimberly Rhode became the first American to win a medal in an individual event in five consecutive Games. Rhode won the women's skeet shooting, tying a world record and setting the Olympic mark with 99 points.

Rhode won in double trap at Atlanta as a teenager in 1996, took bronze in that event four years later at Sydney, re-claimed the gold at Athens in 2004 and won the silver in skeet at Beijing in 2008.

Rhode becomes the eighth U.S. woman with at least five individual Olympic medals, joining the likes of speedskater Bonnie Blair, track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and swimmers Janet Evans and Natalie Coughlin.

According to a Los Angeles Times profile earlier this year, Rhode spends about $500 US per day in training expenses, with ammunition and travel expenses to an Olympic calibre facility taking up a large chunk.

6-set loss for inspirational player

Natalia Partyka of Poland lost 4-2 in sets to her Dutch opponent, bowing out in the round of 32 in table tennis in her second Olympic appearance.

She will soon be taking part in her third Paralympic Games, having been born without a right hand or forearm.

"I get a bit bored about being asked about disability all the time," Partyka said to Reuters heading into the competition.

7 … and 7 is

The South Koreans stayed perfect in women's team archery Sunday, winning their seventh straight gold medal — ever one since the event debuted at the Seoul Games in 1988.

8 in the making

No offence to Mary Spencer, but she has dominated media coverage with respect to Canadian Olympic boxing so much so that barely anybody noticed that Custio Clayton from Dartmouth, N.S. and Simon Kean of Trois-Rivieres, Que. actually qualified in the ring for the Games in Brazil in May.

It would be a stretch to suggest the two men are medal contenders, but Clayton sounded a positive note with a 12-8 decision over Mexico's Oscar Molina on Sunday in the men's 69-kilogram division in London.

Canada has enjoyed some of its best success ever in pro boxing in recent years, but this was the first Olympic ring win since the 2004 Athens Games.

9-time Olympic champs start slowly

Hungary never led in its men's water polo opener on Sunday, losing to Serbia 14-10 for the country's first Olympic loss in 12 years. The Hungarians won gold in Sydney, Athens and Beijing.

10 x 10

Ten seconds is a long time to be behind the leader in Olympic races. Hamadou Djibo Issaka of Niger was ten times that much behind the leader in the rowing competition on Sunday, nearly 100 seconds.

British rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave was not impressed.

"You've got to be encouraging more countries to get involved but there are better scullers from different countries who are not allowed to compete because of the different countries you've got," Redgrave was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.

Many others at Dorney Lake, however, admired the pluck of the 35-year-old, who is seemingly following in the footsteps of ill-equipped Olympic athletes such as Eddie the Eagle and Eric the Eel.

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