5 Things to Know: July 31 at the Olympics


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Ben Sutherland

The five things you should know if you were only going to know five things about yesterday at the Olympics.

1. We’re maybe seeing the beginning of the career of the greatest female swimmer ever. Or, according to others, we’re seeing a 16-year-old on performance-enhancing drugs. Teenage Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen won the 400m individual medley on Saturday in world-record time, swimming the last 50 meters of her freestyle faster than Ryan Lochte, who swam the second-fastest time ever in winning the men’s event. In the semis of the 200m medley yesterday, Shiwen’s time was neary 1.5 seconds better than anyone else. John Leonard, executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, called it doping without actually calling it doping, and handfuls of lazy columns have done the same. Shiwen, who, again, is a teenager, maintains that she is clean.

2. Lady Andrade, the Colombian soccer player who punched American Abby Wambach in the face during a match on Saturday, was suspended for two games by FIFA. A Colombian friend tells me there is more than one Colombian woman named “Lady” because some people in Colombia thought “Lady” was Princess Diana’s first name.

3. South Korean fencer Shin A Lam was judged—by the early-'90s-spaceship scoring system—to have lost her semifinal match after being struck in the last second of overtime. The clock clearly malfunctioned, though, pausing and extending the round by at least a few milliseconds. After a declined appeal by Shin’s coaches, she sat on the platform (if you leave, you’re consenting to the judge’s ruling) for 45 minutes—in tears, for most of it—before security came and escorted her away. She then had to compete in the bronze medal match, which she lost.

4. The U.S. men’s gymnastics team struggled to a fifth place finish and China won gold for the third time this century. Great Britan won silver, but then they didn’t. Japan initially finished in fourth, but then they appealed their final pommel horse score, which was corrected and vaulted (gymnastics joke) them into second place, knocking the Brits down to bronze and Ukraine off the podium. “Life is life,” said Ukrainian coach Yuliy Kusenkov, which … damn.

5. The latest we-are-all-total-failures moment came in the swimming pool as 15-year-old Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte won gold in the women’s 100m breaststroke. She held off a late surge from American world champion Rebecca Soni, who is 10 years older than Meilutyte and also only 25.