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Olympics2012Olympic Hot Sheet: Don't write off Phelps or men's 8

Posted: Saturday, July 28, 2012 | 04:29 PM

Categories: Olympics2012

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Michael Phelps finished out of the medals in the 400 IM, but it would be unwise to write him off after one race. (Christophe Simon/AFP/GettyImages) Michael Phelps finished out of the medals in the 400 IM, but it would be unwise to write him off after one race. (Christophe Simon/AFP/GettyImages)

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A guide to what happened Saturday, and what to look for Sunday, at the Olympic Games in London, including an attempt to put into context both Michael Phelps' 400 IM "loss" and the last-place finish by the Canadian men's eight crew.
A guide to what happened today, and what to look for tomorrow, at the Olympic Games in London.

Lochte 1, Phelps 0

In the first of two head-to-head matchups between the biggest names in swimming, Ryan Lochte destroyed Michael Phelps and the rest of the field to win the men's 400-metre individual medley. Phelps - who famously won eight golds in eight events in 2008 and hoped to win a medal of some colour in all seven of his races in London - finished fourth.

So the king is dead, right? Well, hold on. Phelps is the bigger name, but Lochte was favoured to win the 400 IM, a brutal test of endurance that Phelps swore off post-Beijing before changing his mind. And Phelps still just needs to reach the podium in half of his remaining six events to break the record for the most Olympic medals won in a career.

Lochte and Phelps will face off again in the 200 IM on Aug. 2. Phelps may have the upper hand, as Lochte also races in the 200 back that day.

More immediately, Lochte competes in Sunday's 200 free heats (no Phelps in those), and the superpowers may join forces on the U.S. men's 4x100 free relay team.

He's in! He's out.

Canada's Ryan Cochrane thought he'd secured the last spot in the men's 400 free final after defending champion (and world champ) Park Tae-hwan was DQ'd for a false start. But officials later overturned the decision, and Cochrane was bumped from the final. Park went on to take silver behind Chinese sensation Sun Yang, who set an Olympic record.

Disappointing for Cochrane, but not a huge deal, as he wasn't expected to contend in the 400. Look for him in the 1,500 free on Aug. 4, when he'll look to improve on the bronze he won in '08.

Row-a-dope?

The Canadian men's eight rowing crew made headlines by finishing last in its four-boat heat, forcing the defending champs into the repechage round.

The result looks bad, but was it tactical? Only the top boat from each heat advanced directly to the final, and with the powerhouse Germans rowing in their heat, you've got to wonder if the Canadians opted to conserve their energy. Maybe we'll learn more in the repechage on Monday.

Sinclair strikes back

The Canadian women's soccer team bounced back from its opening loss to Japan by routing South Africa 3-0. Captain Christine Sinclair, who was shut out by the Japanese, broke out with a pair of goals.

The lopsided win boosted Canada's chances of advancing. Only the top two teams in each group automatically move on to the quarter-finals, and Canada is in tough with Japan and Sweden. But the two best third-place teams get wild-card berths, and after only losing by a goal to the World Cup champion Japanese and now pounding the weak South Africans, the Canadians' goal differential is in decent shape heading into their group-stage finale against the Swedes, who tied Japan 0-0 on Saturday.

Looking ahead...

Canada has a shot at its first medal on Sunday, when three-metre synchronized divers Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel hit the springboard. The pair took silver at last year's world championships, and if they can reach the podium here, Heymans will become the first women's diver to win a medal in four consecutive Olympics.

Other notable Canadians in action Sunday:

  • Cyclist Clara Hughes competes in the women's road race at 7 a.m. ET. Canada's answer to Bo Jackson won her first two Olympics medals in cycling way back at the 1996 Atlanta Games, then switched to speedskating and won four Winter Olympic medals. If she reaches the podium Sunday, Hughes becomes the most decorated Canadian Olympian ever.
  • The women's eight rowing team hits the water for the heats at 6:40 a.m. ET.
  • Busy day for Canadian tennis players, especially Vasek Pospisil. He plays his singles opener against David Ferrer at 6:30 a.m. ET, then joins Daniel Nestor for a doubles match at 10:30 a.m. ET. In singles action, Aleksandra Wozniak plays her first-round match at 8:30 a.m. ET, and Milos Raonic gets going at 10:30 a.m. ET.
  • Our favourite Olympian/blogger Julia Wilkinson and fellow Canadian Sinead Russell race in the women's 100 back heats at 5 a.m. ET, and hopefully in the semis later in the day.

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