SPORTS

Day 5: Losing to win, winning but losing

08/01/2012 10:24 EDT | Updated 10/01/2012 05:12 EDT
By now, most have heard about the badminton scandal at the London Games, in which four separate doubles teams were sent home after they conspired to essentially throw their matches in order to draw preferred opponents in the elimination stage.

In our review of the surprising and strange at the Olympics, a look at some other questionable tactics and decisions, as well as a short and painful Olympic experience for one small nation.

Not badminton, but a racket?

Australian women's basketball coach Carrie Graf said after a victory over Brazil on Wednesday that she believes that other teams have, and will, lose matches intentionally to avoid a matchup in the elimination stage against the powerhouse Americans

" … I think it’s a strategic approach that at times European nations have taken,’’ Graf was quoted as saying in Australia's The Age.

Even though Australia has lost in the Olympic final in the last three games to the U.S., Graf said the losing strategy was not something her team would likely contemplate.

Japanese women's soccer coach Norio Sasaki had a different kind of ploy in mind other than avoiding a top notch foe, and his players followed it to a tee on Tuesday.

The World Cup champions played to a scoreless draw against South Africa, perceived to be a much weaker side. Sasaki admitted they didn't really try to score, but FIFA said on Wednesday there would be no discipline.

A win would have seen Japan finish first in their group and play their quarter-final in Cardiff. With the draw, Japan ends up staying put in Glasgow for their next math.

Azer buy sham?

Japanese boxer Shimizu Satoshi was trailing by seven points heading into the final round. While he clearly lost the first minute of the final stanza, he utterly dominated Azerbaijan's Magomed Abdulhamidov the rest of the way in their bantamweight bout.

Abdulhamidov dropped to the canvas six times in the final two minutes and clearly didn't have his legs under him, with two or three of the falls the result of exhaustion from the sustained attack.

While there are no extra points for knockdowns in amateur boxing, Satoshi curiously ended up losing by five points, a verdict that was booed lustily by many at Excel Arena.

Several veteran fight writers took to Twitter to weigh in, with some it calling it the most outrageous moment in the Olympic sport since Roy Jones Jr. infamously lost a decision to a fighter from the host country at the 1988 Seoul Games despite dominating the action.

Japan successfully appealed the result, and the Turkmenistan referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov reportedly could face sanctioning after giving Abdulhamidov every benefit of the doubt in allowing him to continue. He also twice stepped in to adjust Abdulhamidov's headgear, buying him time.

While the result could have chalked up to sheer incompetence, the BBC in 2011 said it had uncovered evidence that a Azerbaijan official gave the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) millions of dollars to help set up a boxing series, with the understanding that Azerbaijani fighters would be guaranteed at least two gold medals.

AIBA vigorously denied the claims.

The British are winning, the British are ...

The angst is over (sound familiar?) for the host nation after four days of competition came and went without a gold. Rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning got the first gold medal for Great Britain and in short order Tour de France champ Bradley Wiggins added another victory, in ....

The total haul for the Brits on Wednesday was six medals, with a silver and two bronze, and the men's soccer team advanced to the knockout stage.

Dirty pool

Great Britain women's water polo player Frankie Painter-Snell called the Aussies a dirty team after a teammate suffered a broken rib.

"We do what we've got to do to get the job done. We're all about win at all costs," Australian defender Rowie Webster said.

The team's coach added that the British needed to stop "whingeing."

Bye Bye, Bhutan

Bhutan, the Asian country of less than a million which borders India and China, had two Olympics athletes competing in London. One was eliminated Saturday in a shooting competition.

Sherab Zam bowed out in archery on Wednesday in a matchup with an opponent that ended 6-0 and reportedly lasted about six minutes.

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