30 August 2012 – First Day of Competition
After a gala night of fireworks and celebration, the London 2012 athletes got right down to business today.
At the swimming competitions in the Aquatics Center, huge, excited crowds were ready to cheer. The British went wild when their Jonathan Fox took gold in 100m backstroke, and I’m sure there were lots of famous people there, but I only recognized the Duchess of Cambridge - you know, the royal formerly known as Kate Middleton. The French sang the “Marseillaise” at full volume when Charles Rozoy took gold in the men’s 100m butterfly.
Above: British fans cheer on in the Aquatic Center
And then the US took its first medals and two of them were MEDAL QUEST athletes!
Allison Jones was ecstatic when she took bronze in cycling, calling it “a dream.”
And Jessica Long, who did not win her qualifying heat, doubled down and took America’s first gold in the 100 m butterfly, her eighth gold medal in three Paralympics. It was really dramatic: in the heats, Kateryna Istomina of Ukraine beat Jessica and set a new Paralympic record. And then Jessica took back the record in the finals just a few hours later.
From there, MEDAL QUEST raced over to the Copper Box venue to see the US women’s goalball team battle a very tough opponent, Sweden. Coach Ken Armbruster told us the first match is always hard. But Team USA put together 4 goals in the first half and won the match 5-1. We’ll show you more on Monday – be sure to watch!
Not every thing was perfect, of course. We’d hoped to see Eric Hollen advance to the finals in 10 meter air pistol, but he played a little too unevenly, shooting as high as 97 (a tremendous score) but also dropping as low as 89 in one round. This was Eric's very first Paralympic competition, so not bad at all! And I guess athletes learn to chalk this kind of thing up to experience.
Tomorrow we dive into team sports: sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball. Should be another packed day.
Judith Vecchione, for MEDAL QUEST