Diving: There was only one topic of conversation – no, not China’s endless domination of the sport, nor Tom Daley’s swimming trunks (this was the ladies’ synchro platform diving), but the remarkably green colour of the diving pool, which had mysteriously morphed into grimy shade of pond. Quickly dubbed Pool-Gate, no official explanations were offered to baffled onlookers, though many plausible and implausible reasons were suggested, including the most likely that the chlorine levels had been low overnight, causing algae to grow and turn the water green. Ew…thankfully it didn’t detract the divers – well, anyone who dives from the height of a four storey house must be a pretty hardy soul – who went about their way as though the water was the clearest, sparkling crystal blue. Obviously the Chinese pair won – that would be Chen Ruolin and Liu Huixia, with Chen equalling the Olympic record by winning her fifth gold medal. The Brits, Tonia Couch and her teenage partner, Lois Toulson, had been in contention but eventually finished in 5th place. Let’s hope the divers don’t wake up tomorrow a shade of Shrek green.
Canoe C1 Slalom: It was a meh day for Britain today, and it’s been a bit of a meh start to these Olympics for Team GB. London 2012 was always going to be a hard act to follow, and maybe we were spoilt four years ago, but this event was genuinely disappointing. David Florence is the reigning world champion and was silver medallist in Beijing 2008 and is the defending silver medallist from London in the C2 category, so much was expected of him. Sadly, he failed to deliver, making an early mistake to finish last of the 10 competitors. A chance of redemption is still possible with the C2 yet to come, but this was an opportunity missed.
Gymnastics: If yesterday was all about the battle for bronze, today’s position was a slippy fifth. The girls had an outside chance of a bronze, but a fall from Ellie Downie on the beam (quite how anyone can stand and breathe on the beam without falling let alone do flips and leaps is beyond me) and a step out by Claudia Fragapane, put paid to the team’s hopes of emulating their bronze medal at the Worlds last year. The gold was won by the hot favourites USA, led by powerhouse world champion Simone Biles, who destroyed the field and nearly knocked the roof off the arena with the height of their tumbles and twists.
Eventing: Can you guess what position GB finished? Yep, it was fifth. In truth, it included a miraculous effort by one rider, William Fox-Pitt. 10 months ago, he was in an induced coma, after a horrific fall. Yet, here he was, competing, and after the first dressage stage, had actually been leading the competition. They say if you fall off a horse, you should get straight back on again, but this was taking the old adage to extremes. Extraordinarily brave and deserving of a gold medal for most remarkable comeback from near death situation.
Swimming: Cue music from Rocky – dah. Dah, dah dah. Dah, dah, dah. Dah, dah, dahhhhh. Risin’ up, back on the street. Did my time, took my chances. Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet. Just a man and his fight to survive….It’s the…you know the rest. No, it’s not a prelude to the boxing, but the big showdown between swimming heavyweights and deadly rivals Michael Phelps and Chad le Clos in the 200m Butterfly. The two have history. Four years ago at London 2012, as a gauche 20 year old, le Clos dramatically pipped Phelps to the gold with the last touch, turning his dad Bert into an instant celebrity on British TV. Yesterday, before the semis, a thousand memes were born as Phelps was seen doing his finest impression of Darth Maul as he gave le Clos death stares while the South African mischievously buzzed around in the American’s eye line like an Energiser Bunny channelling his inner Rocky. Neither won the race, but the battle lines were drawn.
So who came out top in the clash between aquatic Darth Maul and Rocky? Dah. Dah, dah, dah…the force was with the mighty Phelps. Who dared doubt the greatest Olympic medallist in history? It was his 24th Olympic medal. That’s more than entire nations have won. Phelps stormed into the lead from the start and just managed to hang on in front of fast finishing Masato Sakai of Japan. So where was Chad le Clos? In the end, the battle was a damp squib as poor Chad petered out at the end and didn’t even get a medal, finishing a disappointing fourth. All hail Michael Phelps, lord of the pool.
And medals for Team GB at last! Two back to back silvers. Medals like buses…First, a fighting silver medal for Siobhan-Marie O’Connor in the 200m Individual Medley. She trailed Hungarian Katinka Hosszu (she of the totally bonkers American husband/coach) throughout the race, but then nearly caught her at the end in a gripping finale. Similarly, in the last race of the night, the Men’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay, James Guy hauled back the Japanese swimmer right at the end in a thrilling finish to win Britain a silver medal, to end the day on a high. Can you guess who was in the gold medal winning team? Yeah, him. You would think he would have been knackered, if not emotionally drained, after that epic Butterfly, but he looked like he was out for a leisurely post-dinner evening swim. They should just make Michael Phelps into a country. How about United Phelps of Aquatica? A one man nation of 21 golds, 2 silvers, 2 bronzes, and still counting.