Rio Olympics Day 2: drama, history, crashes and upsets – and China finally get some gold
China’s gold medal machine continues to churn with top marks for history-making Wu Minxia, while American phenom Michael Phelps earns his 19th gold and there were upsets in tennis and a horrifying crash in the women’s cycling road race
Four of China’s reigning Olympic champions were dethroned on day one and early on day two at the Rio Olympics. Wu Minxia made sure she wasn’t going to be number five – though that was the number she had in mind as China finally got on the gold trail.
Wu became the first woman ever to win five diving Olympic golds after she and partner Shi Tingmao took the 3m synchronised springboard. It’s the first of what China hope will be a sweep of the diving medals.
WATCH: Golden moments on Day 2 at Rio Olympics
“I thought about giving up before these Olympic Games because I got injured for a month and I thought it would take a lot of time to recover. It’s really hard to maintain my best performance,” said Wu, who is not competing in other categories and will probably retire.
She – and everyone else on the planet – is still some way behind Michael Phelps, who won his 19th Olympic gold medal by anchoring the US 4x100m freestyle relay team to victory on his return to the Olympic pool from a brief retirement. The greatest Olympian of all time showed little ring rust as he won his 23rd career Games medal.
Elsewhere in the late-night pool action, Katie Ledecky of the US broke the 400m free world record for the States’ first pool gold, Adam Peaty shattered his own 100m breastroke mark, and Sarah Sjostrom set a world record in the 100m butterfly for Sweden’s first ever women’s swimming gold. Sun Yang cruised into the 200m free final.
China were joint top of the medal table after day two with the US and Australia.
Zhang Mengxue eased the nerves after a dire day one by delivering a coveted first gold, in the women’s 10m air pistol. “It happened to be my mother’s birthday yesterday so this will be the best gift for her,” she said.
And weightlifter Long Qingquan smashed the 16-year-old world record in the 56kg men’s with a combined total of 307kg.
After a first day in which swimmers Sun and Ye Shiwen and shooter Li Yuling failed to deliver the golden haul their country expected, there was another embarrassing defeat for a reigning champion early on day two.
Lei Sheng, gold medallist in London, poster boy of the China team and their flag-bearer at the opening ceremony, was stunned in the second round of the men’s individual foil.
That meant Hong Kong’s Cheung Ka-long progressed further, the 19-year-old winning the team’s second-ever fencing bout after Vivian Kong had won the first on Saturday.
WATCH: Relive the action involving Hong Kong athletes on Day 2 at the Rio Olympics
But he was ousted in the last-16 by Brazilian Guilherme Toldo, amid a rampantly partisan atmosphere. “It was a big problem, it was so loud we couldn’t hear the referee at all,” said Cheung, 19, who said he had learned a lot as he looks to Tokyo 2020.
Swimmers Yvette Kong Man-yi and Claudia Lau Yin-yan failed to make the semi-finals of their events, but the latter only just missed out while the former counted just appearing at the games as a triumph after her battles with depression. “Mentally and emotionally I put it all out there,” said Kong. “I enjoyed the whole experience and I think that is the crux of what it means to being at the Olympics.”
In table tennis, Doo Hoi-kem safely made it to the next round, but Tang Peng crashed out – also unlucky to have drawn a Brazilian against the ferociously passionate home fans.
“Definitely, I was rattled by the crowd,” said Tang. “I picked up my form quickly in the first game, but the noisy cheering distracted me in the second.”
Hong Kong’s rowers will have to wait for their bow as the first day’s programme was cancelled due to high winds.
Elsewhere, Novak Djokovic was a surprise exit in the tennis, beaten by Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro, a loss he called one of the most disappointing of his career.
“Yeah, no doubt this is one of the toughest losses in my life and in my career,” said the 12 time grand slam winner. “It’s not easy to handle, especially now, just after the wounds are still fresh. But, you know, you have to deal with it. It’s not the first or the last time I am losing a tennis match. But the Olympic Games, yeah, it’s completely different.”
The women’s cycling road race was marred by a sickening crash that left Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleutenin in intensive care with severe concussion and three cracks in her spine. Teammate Anna van der Breggen sped past her prone teammate to win.
“It shocked me to see her there. It took me a while to realise that, OK we have to get our heads back on the race and start the chase. I knew we couldn’t help her,” she said.
Kosovo wrote a new name in the Olympic history books as a their judoka Majlinda Kelmendi won their first gold. Rio is the first Games at which the partially recognised state, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is competing.
In other “disputed territory” news, Taiwan’s – or Chinese Taipei’s as the IOC insists – Hsu Shu-ching beat China favourite Li Yajun to claim gold in the women’s 53kg weightlifting.
Outside the sporting contests, Portugal’s education minister was robbed at knifepoint near Ipanema beach, though onlookers intervened and the thieves were caught by police.
And organisers said a bullet that landed in the equestrian media centre on day one had not been meant for the members of the press, but had been fired from a nearby slum at a police blimp.
There was more controversy for Russian as the International Paralympic Committee banned all their athletes from competing at the Paralympics – a stark contrast to their counterparts in the IOC.