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North Korea’s Om Yun Chol said he wanted to lift a big weight and make the other athletes nervous.
He definitely nailed that strategy.
Om, standing all of 5 feet and 123 pounds, won a gold medal by confidently lifting an Olympic-record 370 pounds in the clean and jerk at the London Games.
Only a handful of people have lifted more than three times their body weight, and this one came out of nowhere.
Om was in the “B” group with lower-ranked competitors and lifted weights of 160 and 165 kilograms on his first two attempts early in the day. He got the crowd roaring when it was announced he would go for 168 kilograms — the Olympic record.
Among the few lifters who have cleared three times their body weight are Halil Mutlu and Naim Suleymanoglu, also of Turkey, known as the “Pocket Hercules.”
A rower from Niger also captivated an Olympic crowd on Sunday when he trudged to the finish in last place in a single sculls repechage.
With the packed grandstand cheering him on at Dorney Lake, 35-year-old Hamadou Djibo Issaka pushed though the pain and found enough energy to finish nearly 1 minute, 40 seconds behind the winner.
After hearing the finishing horn, he slumped over in his boat, totally spent. After a few seconds, he lifted his head and saluted the crowd while wearing a wide grin.
Djibo Issaka learned how to row only three months ago and has a technique that can generously be described as crude. He received a wild card from the IOC Tripartite Commission, which allows each National Olympic Committee to enter up to five athletes for the Summer Games.
“It went well,” he said in French to The Associated Press. “I passed the finish line. It was great.”
After some seats were empty on the first full day of competition, organizers turned to troops, teachers and students to fill the gaps at a handful of Olympic venues.
Organizing chief Sebastian Coe predicted unused tickets, largely by Olympic and sports officials, will not be an issue as the games proceed.
“It is obvious, some of those seats are not being used in the early rounds,” he said at a briefing.
Coe’s organizing team has long promised to fill venues and avoid a similar problem from the Beijing Olympics.
First lady Michelle Obama was part of a big crowd that watched the U.S. men’s basketball team open tournament play with a 98-71 win over France. Kevin Durant scored 22 points and LeBron James finished with nine points, eight assists and five rebounds.
“It wasn’t perfect,” said James, who had nine points, eight assists and five rebounds. “We’ve still got room for improvement.”
Kimberly Rhode also put on a show at the Royal Artillery Barracks, winning the gold medal in women’s skeet shooting to become the first American to take an individual-sport medal in five consecutive Olympics.
Rhode tied the world record and set an Olympic mark with 99 points. She also set an Olympic record in qualifying, missing only one of her 75 shots.
The rest of the Olympic action Sunday:
This was one sweet victory for France.
Yannick Agnel rallied the French to the gold medal in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay, pulling ahead of American star Ryan Lochte on the final lap.
France clocked 3 minutes, 9.93 seconds, and the Americans settled for silver in 3:10.38. Russia took bronze in 3:11.41. Pre-race favorite Australia was fourth.
It was revenge for the French, who lost a close race to the Americans in Beijing four years ago.
U.S. star Michael Phelps still won the 17th Olympic medal of his career — and first silver — to go along with 14 golds and two bronzes. He’s one away from tying the mark for most career medals held by Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.
Dana Vollmer had a triumphant return to the Olympics, setting a world record while winning gold in the 100 butterfly. The American was third at the turn but powered to the wall for a time of 55.98 seconds.
Vollmer, who made the Olympics as a 16-year-old in 2004, was a huge disappointment when she failed to make the team for Beijing in 2008.
Camille Muffat of France edged American Allison Schmitt by less than half a stroke to win the 400 freestyle, and South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh set a world record to win the 100 breaststroke.
The U.S. women had the top score in qualifying, but the big story was world champion Jordyn Wieber.
Wieber, a heavy favorite, is out of the all-around competition after finishing behind teammates Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. Countries are limited to two gymnasts in the all-around and event finals.
The 17-year-old Wieber was sobbing as she made her way past reporters, so distraught she couldn’t speak to them. A quote attributed to her and distributed by the London Games’ internal news agency said: “It is a bit of a disappointment. It has always been a dream of mine to compete in the all-around final of the Olympics.”
Russia, runner-up to the Americans at last year’s world championships, was 1.4 points back with a score of 180.429. Beijing Olympics champion China was third (176.637), followed by European champion Romania (176.264) and Britain (170.656).
Maria Sharapova won her Olympic debut indoors, beating Shahar Peer of Israel 6-2, 6-0, and Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and David Ferrer were among the seeded winners on the men’s side at Wimbledon.
Playing under Wimbledon’s retractable roof on Centre Court because of rain, No. 3 Sharapova served well, returned aggressively and swept the final eight games.
Sharapova carried the Russian flag in the opening ceremony after missing the 2008 Olympics because of a shoulder injury.
Play was curtailed because of rain, with 32 matches postponed before they started and four suspended in progress. Only 12 matches were completed.
So far, so good for the defending champion U.S. men’s team, which opened Olympic play by sweeping Serbia behind Matt Anderson’s 18 points.
Captain Clay Stanley added 13 points in the 25-17, 25-22, 25-21 victory at Earls Court.
Also, Bulgaria swept Britain, 25-18, 25-20, 26-24, and Russia defeated Germany 31-29, 25-18, 25-17. Australia, coached by Jon Uriarte, lost to Argentina 25-21, 25-22, 25-20. Son Nicolas Uriarte is a setter on the Argentine team.
In the late matches, Poland defeated Italy 21-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-14, and Brazil swept Tunisia 25-17, 25-21, 25-18.
Zara Phillips, the granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, wowed the home crowd and a few relatives in her Olympic equestrian debut.
The 31-year-old Phillips registered a slight mistake on her appropriately named horse, High Kingdom, and earned 46.1 penalty points at Greenwich Park, placing her 24th out of 74 riders with two disciplines to go in the eventing dressage competition.
Her grandfather, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and her mother, Princess Anne, were in the VIP seats as Phillips put High Kingdom through the paces of a standard dressage test to demonstrate the horse’s obedience.
Peter Varellas had three goals to lead the United States to an 8-7 victory over Montenegro.
U.S. captain Tony Azevedo scored with less than a minute to play, but Vladimir Gojkovic answered 10 seconds later to pull back within a goal.
Montenegro then had possession with 17 seconds to play but couldn’t get off a shot before time expired.
The win puts the U.S., which has 10 players from the squad that took silver four years ago in Beijing, in a three-way tie for the Group B lead.
The favored Serbs handed Hungary its first loss in men’s Olympic water polo in 12 years, beating the three-time defending champion 14-10. Romania posted a 13-4 victory over Britain.
In Group A, Croatia beat Greece 8-6, Spain opened with an easy 14-6 victory over Kazakhstan, and Alex Giorgetti scored twice to lead 2011 world champion Italy past Australia 8-5.
Scattered showers sent fans at the picturesque Horse Guards Parade scurrying for shelter during the second day of the beach volleyball tournament, dampening what had been a festive mood but not deterring the second half of the field from making its 2012 Games debut.
Emanuel, a five-time Olympian and defending world champion from Brazil, teamed with Alison to beat Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst 19-21, 21-17, 16-14.
Elsa Baquerizo McMillan and Liliana Fernandez Steiner of Spain also rallied, edging Marleen van Iersel and Sanne Keizer of the Netherlands 14-21, 21-16, 15-11.
Defending gold medalists Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser of the United States, and the No. 2 American women’s team, April Ross and Jennifer Kessy, each won in straight sets.
Britain, Ireland and the revitalized American team are perfect so far.
Jose Ramirez and Errol Spence won their opening bouts to move the U.S. to 4-0, while Freddie Evans and Josh Taylor rode the home crowd’s raucous cheers to a 3-0 start for Britain. Welterweight Adam Nolan then added a win in the late session, pushing Ireland’s record to 3-0.
Welterweight Custio Clayton also notched Canada’s first Olympic win in eight years on an eventful day at ExCel.
Pau Gasol had 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead Spain to a 97-81 victory over China in their Olympic men’s opener.
Spain got off to a slow start and had a 19-17 lead at the end of the first quarter. But it went on a 7-0 run in the second quarter to grab a cushion and was never seriously challenged the rest of the game.
Yi Jianlian of the Washington Wizards had 30 points and 12 rebounds for China.
Argentina kicked off its quest for a third straight men’s basketball medal with a 102-79 victory over Lithuania. Luis Scola scored 32 points, and Manu Ginobili had 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
Powerhouse Spain was eliminated, Brazil and Japan wrapped up spots in the quarterfinals and host Britain is back on track with one round of qualifying matches to go in the men’s tournament.
Spain was hoping to add Olympic gold to the World Cup and European Championship titles held by the country’s full national team. But it lost 1-0 to Honduras and is without a goal in the tournament heading into its last game against Morocco on Wednesday.
Neymar set up two goals and scored from a free kick to help Brazil beat Belarus 3-1, and Japan forward Kensuke Nagai had an 84th-minute goal to secure a 1-0 win over Morocco.
Britain posted an emphatic 3-1 victory over United Arab Emirates that knocked the Middle Eastern team out of the tournament. Mexico rebounded from a first-round loss by beating Gabon 2-0. Two-time Olympic champion Uruguay lost 2-0 to Senegal. Egypt played to a 1-1 draw against New Zealand, while South Korea beat Switzerland 2-1.
Wu Minxia and partner He Zi won the first diving gold medal of the Olympics, moving China one step closer to a sweep of the eight events in London.
They led throughout the five-dive round and totaled 346.20 points in the 3-meter synchronized event.
Abby Johnston and Kelci Bryant finished second with 321.90 points, ending America’s diving medal drought that extended to the 2000 Sydney Games. It was the first Olympic synchro medal for the U.S.
China won seven of eight golds as the host country four years ago in Beijing and swept the golds at last year’s world championships in Shanghai.
Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel earned the bronze with 316.80 for Canada’s first medal of the games.
Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia of China won their opening matches, beginning a road that is expected to bring one of them Olympic gold in women’s singles.
Li, seeded No. 2 in the tournament, ended the dream of American 16-year-old Ariel Hsing, struggling to win in six games against the upstart Californian.
Billionaire Bill Gates arrived just before the match to lend Hsing support. Hsing calls him “Uncle Bill,” and Warren Buffett “Uncle Warren,” friendships she struck up in the past few years attending shareholder meetings of Berkshire Hathaway.
British star Ben Ainslie, trying to become the greatest Olympic sailor ever, finished second to Denmark’s Jonas Hoegh-Christensen in the first two races on Weymouth Bay.
Hoegh-Christensen had a perfect day thanks to strong starts, leading at every mark in both races.
Ainslie is trying to win his fourth straight gold medal, and fifth straight medal overall, which would make him the most successful Olympic sailor ever.
South Korea won the Olympic gold medal in women’s team archery for the seventh straight time.
Ki Bo-bae, Lee Sung-jin and Choi Hyeon-ju hugged and pumped their arms after their 210-209 victory over China. Japan took bronze for its first medal ever in women’s archery.
Marianne Vos of the Netherlands won the gold medal in the women’s road race in a rain-drenched sprint, leaving Britain’s Elizabeth Armitstead with silver and the host country’s first medal of the London Olympics.
Vos, the former world champion, made a daring move past Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya to emerge from the three-rider breakaway. Zabelinskaya won bronze after a frantic finish through a driving rain that was reminiscent of four years ago in Beijing.
Aron Szilagyi of Hungary won the Olympic gold medal in the men’s individual saber by defeating Diego Occhiuzzi of Italy 15-8 after the top four seeds all stumbled out before the semifinals.
Nikolay Kovalev of Russia earned bronze with a 15-10 victory over Rares Dumitrescu of Romania.
The Netherlands took its first step toward retaining the Olympic women’s field hockey gold, beating newcomer Belgium 3-0. Argentina lived up to its reputation as one of the tournament favorites by dominating South Africa 7-1.
Kim Lammers scored twice in her Olympic debut for the Netherlands. Lammers is the most-capped Dutch player, but she was not selected for the Athens 2004 team and a knee injury forced her to miss the Beijing Olympics.
China, the 2008 silver medalist, beat South Korea 4-0, and New Zealand defeated three-time champion Australia 1-0 in the opening match of the tournament.
In the day’s last match, Germany beat the United States 2-1, holding off a strong second-half performance by the Americans.
Britain, considered a strong outsider, scored four first-half goals against Japan then relaxed in a goal-less second half.
An Kae Um won North Korea’s first Olympic gold medal in London in the women’s 52-kilogram category, and Lasha Shavdatuashvili of Georgia took the men’s 66-kilogram category.
It’s Shavdatuashvili’s first Olympic medal. An won silver at Beijing.
Asian Games champion Chen Long of China reached the final 16 in the Olympic competition by defeating Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand 21-12, 21-17.
Former No. 1 Lee Hyun-il of South Korea, who was fourth at the Beijing Olympics, beat Rodrigo Pacheco Carillo of Peru in two games.
Other winners included: No. 6 seed Sho Sasaki of Japan and ninth-seeded Simon Santoso of Indonesia.
All the seeded women’s players in action won, led by third-seeded Li Xuerui of China and No. 4 Saina Nehwal of India.
Defending champion France defeated Britain 44-15 in their opener, dashing the host’s hopes for a decent performance in a sport that lacks the popularity of football and rugby in Britain.
Ivan Cupic scored eight goals and two-time Olympic champion Croatia beat South Korea 31-21 in the men’s tourney.
Spain, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark also won.
Zulfiya Chinshanlo of Kazakhstan won the Olympic gold medal in women’s 53-kilogram.