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Water polo (W) day 4 - Hungary seals narrow win over Russia to clinch semi-final berth

London 2012 Water Polo

Hungary survived a last second Russian rally and was able to clinch a semi-final berth with an 11-10 victory at the Water Polo arena. In the final minutes of the game Russia laid siege to Hungary's goal. Olga Beliaeva's (RUS) point blank shot was blocked before Ekaterina Lisunova's (RUS) rebound was disallowed because the siren had started to sound.Russia had raced to a 2-0 lead but surrendered their advantage early in the second quarter. Hungary went two ahead with 2:31 remaining. Russia fought back with the fourth goal of Evgenia Ivanova (RUS) which arrived from well outside and after an extra man exclusion period had expired.

Dora Antal (HUN) scored her second goal with 1:19 left on the clock before Russia earned a penalty shot, which Beliaeva converted for 11-10. Russia won the ball and took a timeout with 10 seconds left, then gained an extra man advantage with six seconds left leading to Beliaeva's unsuccessful last second shot.

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Diving day 5 - Minxia Wu (CHN) wins 3m springboard and gets sixth Olympic medal

London 2012 Diving

If there was an image to retain from the women’s 3m springboard final, it would surely be the immense frustration of Tania Cagnotto (ITA), when after her fifth dive she saw a “3” next to her name. China's Minxia Wu had one last dive to perform but given her advance and dominance, it was sure that the “3” in front of the Italian’s name would soon be a “4”. When the final ranking was displayed on the scoreboard, the “4” was indeed there, in front of Cagnotto’s name, indicating that she had lost the medal by a mere 0.20 to Mexico’s Laura Sanchez.

Participating at her fourth Olympics and after another fourth place in the synchronised event here in London, Cagnotto’s disappointment was huge – she had qualified second in the semis and was hoping not only to obtain her first Olympic medal but also to get the first podium appearance for Italy in Aquatics at these Games. Her third dive, a forward 3 ½ somersault (pike, DD 3.1) was perhaps responsible for this outcome: due to a slight over rotation and an unsuccessful entry in the water, Cagnotto obtained a poor 68.20 total from the judges. From that moment on, she could not recover and finished at the podium’s door.

For the gold medal, things were clear from the beginning – Wu always appeared to be the final's strongest and most regular diver. Without any notorious mistake during her five-dive programme, the 26-year-old Chinese star obtained her sixth Olympic award (414.00 points) and first individual gold after being champion in the synchronised event in 2004, 2008 and 2012, second in the 3m springboard in Athens 2004 and third at the “Water Cube” in 2008. She now shares the title of most medalled athlete in Olympic history with retired legendary diver Jingjing Guo (CHN). With this title, China now has five victories out of the five events held at the London Aquatics Centre so far and maintains quite preserved their hopes of getting a clean sweep of the eight Olympic titles at stake.

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Water polo (M) day 4 - Hungary keeps their Olympic dream alive following their triumph over Great Britain

London 2012 Water Polo

altHungary's quest for a 10th Olympic crown is still on track after qualifying for the quarterfinals with a 17-6 victory over Great Britain in a men's Group A match. Hungary's gain was Great Britain's loss and the British side will depart the competition after Monday's clash with Montenegro. Hungary needed to produce a quality performance after a lacklustre London 2012 prior to today. They have won just two games from four outings but finished ahead of Romania and Great Britain on the group ladder. Hungary used their best team often, looking for quality everywhere in the pool with some success.

Britain used number 13 Matt Holland (GBR) in goal and he has just 32 minutes, equivalent to one match, in the previous three encounters. Hungarian captain and triple Olympic champion Peter Biros (HUN), in particular, had a nightmare time against Holland (GBR), who excelled with 12 saves.

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Swimming day 8 – USA end on a high note, Phelps retires with 22 medals!

London 2012 Swimming

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With two more victories in the eighth and final session of swimming at these 2012 Olympic Games, team USA completed in the best possible way its supremacy at the London Aquatics Centre, accumulating a total 30 medals, including 16 gold (exactly the half of titles at stake)! One swimmer, as it happened in Athens and Beijing, emerged from the swimming competition: superstar Michael Phelps retired after the 4x100m medley relay, walking away with a total 22 Olympic medals (18 are gold), an unprecedented (and, who knows, unbeatable) record.

The U.S. domination was overwhelming at these 2012 Olympics in the pool. They got thrice as much gold medals as their closest competitors (China, with 5) and also three times the total of medals won by the other successful teams in London (Japan with 11, China and Australia with 10). Four years ago at the "Water Cube", the North Americans had earned 31 medals, 12 of which gold. Moreover, five countries can celebrate these Games as a landmark for the development of their swimming teams: China, second in the medal table with 10 awards (including five gold), France, the best European nation with seven podiums (including four victories), Netherlands (four medals and two victories), Japan (11 awards, including three silver and eight bronze) and South Africa (three medals, including two gold).

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Water polo (W) day 3 - Spanish victory over Hungary earns top Group A ranking

London 2012 Water Polo

altSpain's women sensationally finished at the top of Group A with a 13-11 victory over Hungary at the London Olympic Water Polo Arena on Friday. Spain has won two matches and drew even with the USA, but they win the group ahead of the USA based on the second tie breaker, the result against the third place team Hungary. USA beat Hungary 14-13 while Spain won their match against the same team by a margin of two goals, yielding the top spot in the group rankings. This scenario is predicated on the USA beating China in the final match of the day at 19:40, where a USA victory will earn five points after three days of competition, but placement below the Spanish team.

Spain's win today came in the fading seconds of the match. Spain dominated the game holding three goal leads on four occasions. Hungary struck back delivering two goals in the last 90 seconds of the match. Dora Czigany (HUN) provided the goal down result at 11-12 with 49 seconds left and called a timeout with 21 seconds on the clock. Spain earned a turnover foul and went to a timeout with 12 seconds on the close. A major foul was called outside five metres and Spain whipped the ball to the two metre line where Anni Espar (ESP) drilled it home for a two goal winning margin with two seconds left.

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Swimming day 7 – Blackjack for Phelps, Franklin sets 7th World Record

London 2012 Swimming

This time, no need to review the images twice, thrice, in slow motion or with the help of an underwater camera! This time, everything could be seen from above the water level, without special technology or complicated timing devices. Michael Phelps' (USA) victory in the men's 100m butterfly was clear and allowed the "kid of Baltimore" to collect his 21st medal at Olympic level – a true blackjack in the pool! In the famous cards' game, the dealer normally doesn't take hits when his two cards represent 17 or more points, which is also the number of gold medals in possession of Michael Phelps since his first successes at the 2004 Games in Athens. The question is: with still one event to go (the 4x100m medley relay), will Phelps take one more gold hit – his 18th one?

In Beijing, this race had been "the race" of the Games, with Phelps getting the title in the last stroke against a less aggressive Milorad Cavic (SRB), who glided too much and did not apply enough strength on the touch pad – the same mistake done by Phelps in London in the 200m fly! The final difference between the two swimmers at the "Water Cube" had been minimal – 50.58 for Phelps against Cavic's 50.59. At the London Aquatics Centre, Phelps was only seventh at half way, but applying his well-known "turbo" at the 75m-mark, he comfortably touched first in 51.21, getting his second individual gold at these Games after the triumph in the 200m IM. With this win, Phelps obtains his third consecutive Olympic success in this event and completes a perfect Olympic cycle, with the gold in Beijing and London, but also at the 2009 and 2011 FINA World Championships. 

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Water polo (M) day 3 - Champions Hungary win first match in goal fest

London 2012 Water Polo

altIt took three matches for Hungary to kick into gear in their Olympic gold medal defence, beating Romania 17-15 in a men's Group B match today. Norbert Madaras (HUN) turned up with two goals in two matches but delivered seven after a final display with his left arm. Winless after the first two days of competition, Hungary has to use all their skills to fend off a Romanian team fighting for its Olympic survival.

Romania levelled at 1's, 3's, 6's, 7's, 8's and again at 9's leading up to half time. The second half was tougher with Romania coming back to 11-10, but them watching as the goal fest reached 14-11 after three periods. Romania scored consecutive goals to narrow the match to 15-13 after a Hungarian spurt, but it went 17-13 in Hungary's favour in the last three minutes. Romania scored the last two goals. They must have been surprised to have scored 15 goals against Hungary but to still have lost the game.

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Swimming day 6 – Phelps at his best continues to amaze the world!

London 2012 Swimming

If more records were needed to confirm the title of "Best Olympian in the history of the Games", Michael Phelps (USA) established one more on day 6 of the Swimming finals at the Aquatics Centre for the 2012 London Olympic Games. In the much expected men's 200m IM final, Phelps would attempt to become the first male swimmer to successfully defend his title at three consecutive Olympics in the same individual event. After his successes in 2004 and 2008, he triumphed once more, winning in 1:54.27. This is Phelps' 20th Olympic medal (including 16 golds)! Only two other swimmers have managed to win three individual titles in a row at Olympic level: Australia's Dawn Fraser - who was in the Aquatics Centre to cheer on Phelps' feat - in the women's 100m free between 1956 and 1964, and Krisztina Egerszegi (HUN), in the women's 200m backstroke, in 1988, 1992 and 1996. Phelps dominated the entire race and looked in a fresher condition than teammate Ryan Lochte, who had swum the 200m backstroke earlier in the evening. As it happens, Phelps became the first male swimmer of the 2012 Olympics to retain his 2008 title in an individual event.

On his rivalry with Lochte, Phelps admitted: "Ryan and I have had a lot of good races. Over the last four years, Ryan has made a lot of improvement, in and out of the pool. For me, it's going to be fun to be able to watch what these guys do over the next four years, where they continue to take the sport. We have had a fun career with one another, we do push each other. He has brought the best out of me many times." Commenting on his result, the greatest Olympian in history said: "Obviously it's a relief to win an individual gold, it's something pretty special. To be able to have the heat that we had all three of us, we shared the podium together and raced each other so many times that it is just cool to finish my career winning the 200 IM gold medal." Asked about his feelings on swimming his last competitive swim in London (Phelps will retire after these Games), he added: "Once it's over, it is really going to hit me emotionally, it is really emotional for my mother, she's watched my sisters go to the sport and retire, and she's going to watch me retire too. But after Sunday, there will be no more competitive swimming, I will be retired."

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Water polo (W) day 2 - Hungary upset world number 2 China

London 2012 Water Polo

altHungary came out on top of today's Group A match defeating the #2 world ranked team China in the second day of women's competition at the Water Polo Arena on Wednesday, August 1st. The world #9 ranked Hungarians were unphased by a 3-1 deficit at the end of the first quarter and at being behind 7-5 at half time. Three goals by Gabriella Szucs in the third period brought Hungary to within one goal at 10-9. Dora Czigany (HUN) levelled the game in an extra-man attack early in the fourth quarter.

Five minutes later, former German player Barbara Bujka gave the huge Hungarian supporter base what they wanted with a sweeping flick over her head from the centre-forward position for the first Hungarian lead of the game with just 1:56 minutes remaining on the clock. China had chances to draw but even after a timeout at 12 seconds left in the game, the Chinese players could not penetrate the strong Hungarian defence.

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Swimming day 5 – Gyurta and Soni set new WR in 200m breast

London 2012 Swimming

Two new World Records highlighted day 5 at the Aquatics Centre in London. The new global marks were established in the same event (200m breaststroke): in the men's final by Daniel Gyurta (HUN) and the women's semi finals by Rebecca Soni (USA). This brings the total of WR set in London to five. The evening was also marked by a thrilling race in the men's 100m free and by the unsuccessful attempt of Kosuke Kitajima (JPN) to obtain a third consecutive title in the men's 200m breaststroke. If needed, this session also proved that the "changing of the guard" is a reality in London and that to re-validate an Olympic title is a real challenge for the swimming stars so far. Last but not least, Spain obtained their second-ever medal for a female swimmer while the Games host enjoyed the second podium presence for a swimmer.

Considered by many the main event of the Swimming programme, the men's 100m free featured a superb race at the London Aquatics Centre. James Magnussen from Australia, the 2011 world champion in Shanghai, fastest performer in 2012 (47.10) and the first in the semis (47.63), was the man to beat and constituted a solid hope for an Australian gold. But many big names of freestyle swimming were in the final's line-up: on lane 2, world record holder Cesar Cielo from Brazil; on lane 1, the youngest of the field Yannick Agnel (FRA, and already three medals in London); on lane 5, Nathan Adrian, winner at the US Trials; and on lane 7, Canada's Brent Hayden, world champion in 2007 and silver medallist at Shanghai Worlds.

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