Bolt goes for another gold as Lochte saga consumes Rio Games
Usain Bolt and Ryan Lochte commanded the Olympic spotlight Thursday for drastically different reasons.
Bolt is going for an unprecedented third consecutive sweep of the 100- and 200-meter sprints, an accomplishment that would further elevate his status as the most decorated male sprinter in Olympic history. But for most of the day, all anyone was talking about surrounding the Olympics was a drunken encounter at a gas station restroom in Rio de Janeiro.
Lochte originally said he and his teammates were pulled over in their taxi by men with a badge and robbed at gunpoint during a night of partying Sunday after their competition wrapped up. Police say the story was made up, and that the intoxicated athletes vandalized a gas station bathroom and were questioned by guards before they paid for the damage and left.
The episode served as a distraction from several notable events on the field of competition, including a dazzling round by American golfer Stacy Lewis, a gold for Brazil in sailing and several medals at track and field.
Bolt is running in the 200-meter final and going for his third straight sprint double after winning the 100 and 200 in the Beijing and London Games. The Jamaican is heavily favored to pull off the feat again after already winning the 100, but will face competition from Andre de Grasse of Canada and American LaShawn Merritt, who actually has the year's best time at 200 meters.
Merritt is a member of a U.S. track and field team that is on a magnificent run in Rio. Kerron Clement won the 400-meter hurdles Thursday in what marked the 20th medal for the U.S. team with 3 1/2 days of competition to come. In one session late Wednesday it dubbed the "awesome hour," the U.S. team added six medals.
Clement was so confident about his chances in the hurdles he had his mother bring his American flag from home. He draped himself in the flag soon after his win.
"I knew I was going to win," he said.
In the evening track and field session, American decathlete Ashton Eaton is expected to deliver more gold for the United States when the event wraps up with javelin and 1,500 in the night session. The Olympic and world champion had a 124-point lead.
Other highlights from Day 13 of the Rio Games:
SHAKUR FOR GOLD : No American has won a gold in boxing since 2004, but Shakur Stevenson hopes to change that. The 19-year-old phenom advanced to the gold match and has the support of Floyd Mayweather, who has referred to Stevenson as "the next Floyd Mayweather."
SUSPENSIONS : It was a busy day for doping suspensions. Doping officials announced that a weightlifter from Kyrgyzstan, swimmer from China, cyclist from Brazil and canoeist from Moldova all tested positive for drugs. The weightlifter was taking strychnine, best known for its use as rat poison. Athletes use it in small doses to boost muscle recovery.
BRAZIL WINS: The host country claimed a gold medal in sailing after a dramatic finish by Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze in the women's 49erFX event. The winners tumbled into the bay as they celebrated the big win.
BIRDIE FEST : You know it's a good day on the golf course when a player starts losing track of the number of birdies she makes. Such was the case for Lewis, who carded 11 birdies and shot a 63. Her round could have been better if not for a double-bogey on the 14th hole. And it still wasn't enough for the lead. Inbee Park of South Korea finished shot a 5-under 66 to lead by one.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: Alistair Brownlee of Britain successfully defended his gold medal in the men's triathlon. His younger brother Jonathan, who took bronze in London four years ago, moved up to silver this time around.
BMX CRASHES : The BMX competition began on what many riders feared would be a treacherous course. They ended up being right. Several riders crashed in the BMX men's quarterfinals, and two-time defending gold medalist Maris Strombergs of Latvia was eliminated. All three American riders advanced to the semifinals, including Connor Fields, who summed up the day like this: "The best I can describe it is, put 800 lions in a cage, throw out a big steak and open the doors. That's BMX."
BADMINTON : It was a significant day at badminton. Carolina Marin of Spain beat the defending Olympic champion from China to advance to the gold medal singles match. Marin is world No. 1 but her win is significant because China had been badminton's superpower, sweeping all five gold medals at the 2012 London Games. And Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi of Japan won gold in women's badminton doubles.