In yesterday’ semi-finals of the Olympic men’s tournament the defending champion Croatia has played at its best to overcome Montenegro, thrashing them 12-8 (3:4, 2:3; 1:1, 2:4) .
Credit for Croatia’s victory goes in equal way to both her almost flawless defense – although missing a pillar like Damir Buric, and pungent attack.
The sharpest striker was Andro Buslje (CRO), with 4 goals (in 5 attempts, 80 per cent efficiency).
The players of Montenegro might have suffered psychologically the confrontation with their neighbors; in any case they did not play at their best. They lost three periods and tied one, the third.
In the second semi-final the mighty Serbia - world champion, three-time champion of Europe and many time triumphant in the World League - was at its best to defeat Italy. The final result was 8 - 10 (0:3, 2:3; 0:1, 6:3) for Serbia. From the start the Serbians have shown an overall superiority – physical and technical - while the Italians were not able to stage any valid opposition. After 12 minutes, at half of the second quarter, Serbia had already inflicted 6 goals to the Italians, with none received. At that point the Olympic silver medalists of London 2012 were 6 goals behind, with none scored: a humiliating 6-goal gap, never to be completely filled. Slowly the Italians came back while the Serbians lifted the foot from the pedal of the accelerator: as a consequence at the end of the game the gap was narrowed to only 2 goals. For Serbia victory was enough, on any score as they badly wanted to make their first final at the Olympics.
Some Serbian players know well their opponents as they play, or have played for some years, in the Italian championship. Altogether these players have scored more than half of the goals of their team, 6 overall: Mandic (1), Filipovic (2), Pijetlovic (1) and Prlainoivc (2).
On Saturday the final will be between Croatia and Serbia, the two major world powerhouses. It will certainly be a memorable match. Italy and Montenegro will play for the bronze medal.
In the first classification matches, for placements from 5th to 8th , Hungary easily beat Brazil 13 - 4 (4:1, 3:0; 4:3, 2:0). Balasz Erdely (HUN) best scored the game with 4 goals out of 4 attempts, with a remarkable 100% percentage.
In the second match Greece defeated Spain 9-7 (1:0, 2:1; 4:3, 2:3). The Hellenic side appeared more motivated and was always in the lead and in control of the game.
Eight teams - Brazil, Russia, Egypt, Australia, Italy, Ukraine, China and Japan - took part in the Teams Technical preliminary round yesterday.
As in all other events even in the first stage of the team event Russia showed its overwhelming superiority, with 97.0106 points.
Russia has won 4 consecutive Olympic gold medals, in 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012.
China performed an excellent routine and deserved the second place, with 95.6174 points. At London 2012 China won the silver medal, while bronze went to Spain (not qualified for Rio).
Japan was third, also on a very good routine, with 93.7723 points. Japan, who claimed silver at both the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and bronze in Atlanta in 1996, is aiming to get back on the podium. Ukraine was fourth with 93.4413 and will certainly challenge Japan for the bronze medal.
The final of the Team event will be held today, Friday 19 August.
Inevitable one-two of the Chinese divers in the women’s 10m platform final: victory went to the phenomenal 15-year old Qian Ren, who was ranked third yesterday in the semi-finals with 362.40 points, 26.90 behind her compatriot Yajie Si, 17, (389.30 points), 4.60 behind the surprising American Jessica Parratto (367 points).
Even more dramatic the scene for the bronze medal, won by Canadian Meaghan Benfeito, rising six positions, from ninth place in the semi-final, when he qualified with 332.80 points, 56.50 points behind the well is.
The competition was really great in the final, which took place in the evening. With the first two positions virtually "armored" by the Chinese athletes, the third place was within the reach of more of an athlete: from the "surprise" of the afternoon Jessica Parratto (USA), the well known Mellissa Wu (Australia) , Paola Espinosa (Mexico), Pandelela Pamg (Malaysia), Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion (Canada), six athletes involved in the fight struggling to achieve the dream of a lifetime.
The Canadians Benfeito and Filion had started with the right foot, with Benfeito atop after the first dive; then the Chinese took over the leadership, with Ren bringing together a sequel of dives to the limit of perfection.
While Parratto and Pamg have committed some mistakes (Parratto eventually shifted in 10th position), Wu and Espinosa responded well, and the tension was skyrocketing; Filion, who in December in December had broken a foot, made a mistake in the fourth dive. Bronze was decided at the last dive: Espinosa jumped well, but not enough to reach the podium; Benfeito made a good dive, though not outstanding, leaving the Wu a chance to overcome her. The Australian did not exploit the opportunity, missing the entry.
Therefore bronze went to Benfeito, with 389.20 points. Qian Ren and Yajie Si finished their performance with two beautiful dives fully deserving their medals, gold and silver, respectively with 439.25 and 419.40 points.