SPORTS

Day 8: New countries hit the podium

08/04/2012 10:41 EDT | Updated 10/04/2012 05:12 EDT
What a great day for Canada:

- A passing of the torch in trampoline, as Rosie MacLellan wins gold and Karen Cockburn is just off the podium.

- Ryan Cochrane has the best 1,500 metre swim of his life, earning his second Olympic medal, a silver.

- Tara Whitten, Gillian Carleton of Victoria and Jasmin Glaesser grab cycling bronze in women's team pursuit.

What a great day for the United States:

- Michael Phelps gets honoured by swimming's governing body after most likely finishing his Olympic career with an 18th gold medal and 22nd overall. Check out the timeline of all the medals.

- Galen Rupp produces a stunning race to win silver in the men's 10,000 metres, the first medal for an American at the event since 1964.

- Serena Williams, arguably playing the best tennis of her career, crushes Maria Sharapova to win Olympic gold again.

What a great day for Great Britain, with the following wins on the track in about an hour's time:

- Jessica Ennis makes her bid for the country's queen of the Games, winning the heptathlon.

- Greg Rutherford is a surprise winner of the men's long jump.

- Mo Farah takes gold ahead of training mate Rupp in a thrilling 10,000 race.

All three nations can be justifiably proud of their Day 8 accomplishments, but unless you are Olympics-obsessed, you might not have noticed some new countries putting up a number in the medal table over the last day, but you can be sure it is a trend which will continue.

Let's face facts. The first half of the Olympic schedule isn't exactly kind to the African countries.

Fencing? Judo?

Egyptian Alaaeldin Abouelkassem made history in fencing this week, earning a silver for Africa's first ever medal in the sport. He was also the first African fencer to even reach the semis, which shows just how much more progress can be made.

There's never been a gold medallist in judo from Africa.

At one point, the men's and women's basketball teams from Africa were a combined 1-26 in Olympic competition, with the nadir an 83-point nightmare loss suffered by Nigeria to the latest iteration of the Dream Team.

Usually there's a few outliers in the pool who produce a handful of podium results in the swimming pool. Oussama Mellouli won bronze in Saturday's 1,500, joining South Africans Chad le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh to combine on four swimming medals for African nations.

Africa

With the athletics competition now underway, the medal numbers will swell for the continent.

Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia helped grow her legend Friday by becoming the first woman ever to defend an Olympic 10,000 metre title. The podium was completed by Kenyans Sally Kipyego and Vivian Cheruiyot.

The Ethiopian men could not run their streak of Olympic 10,000 metre victories to five in a thrilling race Saturday, but Ethiopian Tariku Bekele took bronze, one spot of his older brother Kenenisa, the four-time Olympic champ.

Amantle Montsho, the world champion last year in the women's 400, booked a spot in Sunday's final to take on Sanya Richards-Ross of the U.S. There are also a number of African contenders on Day 9 in the women's marathon and men's 3000 metre steeplechase.

Jamaica

Of course, track and field in the last 10 years has been dominated by the prowess of athletes from an island nation of just over three million.

There was likely no teeth gnashing in Jamaica over the fact the country hadn't won a medal in the first seven days of the Games.

Jamaica on Day 8 won its first two of what is expected to be several medals. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won her second straight 100 metre title despite a fairly average 18 months preceding the London Games. Veronica Campbell-Brown took the bronze, her sixth career Olympic medal.

And whaddya know? Jamaica will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its independence on Sunday. Coincidentally (?), Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell will shoot for the podium in the men's 100.

Guatemala

Finally on this topic, a shout for Erick Barrondo, who on Saturday became the first ever Guatemalan Olympic medallist (Silver in 20 km racewalking). According to the New York Times, the number of nations without a medal to speak of is now 79.

MORE:cbcSports