France secure two gold medals on Olympic opening weekend
France took two gold medals as the London 2012 Olympic Games got underway this weekend, with strong performances in swimming and a decisive victory against the hosts in the Games first handball match.
Opening day - Saturday July 28
Yi Siling kicked off China’s medal haul in style on the opening day of the London 2012 Olympic Games with a gold in the 10m air rifle competition on Saturday, beating Poland’s Sylwia Bogacka by 502.9 to 502.2 points at London’s iconic Royal Artillery Barracks.
Fellow countrywoman Yu Dan took the bronze medal with 501.5.
Following British cycling success in the Tour de France with Bradley Wiggins the home crowd was upbeat about British chances of taking gold, only for their hopes to be dashed after its Olympic team failed to win anything at the men’s road race.
Kazakhstan’s Alexandre Vinokourov took gold, followed by Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran, with the bronze going to Norway’s Alexander Kristoff after a gruelling 250 km race that finished by Buckingham Palace in central London. Britain’s hot favourite Mark Cavendish was beaten by a combination of tactical racing and late attacks by the opposing teams.
The honour of taking Britain’s first medal fell instead to its women cyclists on Saturday, with Elizabeth Armitstead taking silver just behind the Netherlands’ Marianne Vos in a rain-drenched sprint down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace.
Day 2 - Sunday July 29
Swimmer Camille Muffat secured France’s first gold medal of the 2012 Games in Sunday’s 400m women’s freestyle.
The 23-year-old broke a new world record, finishing in four minutes 01.45 seconds, just 0.34 seconds behind American rival and Beijing bronze medallist Allison Schmitt.
Britain's Rebecca Adlington, who won gold in both the 200 and 400 metres freestyle in Beijing, claimed bronze. World-record holder Federica Pellegrini of Italy was fifth.
France maintained its spectacular form in the swimming with the French 400m relay team seeing off their much fancied American rivals. The quartet, led by Yannick Agnel who swam the final leg, took a much deserved gold.
The US team included the legendary Michael Phelps, who had to make do with the first silver medal of his Olympic swimming career. Phelps cleaned up with an unprecedented eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Back at the Royal Artillery Barracks, China added to its haul with a second shooting gold medal this time in the 10m air pistol competition. Guo Wenjun narrowly beat France’s Céline Goberville, who failed to reach the top spot with a disappointing final shot.
French handball titleholders got off to a good start against hosts Britain, trouncing the hosts 44 to 14.
The French team, who are the World and Olympic champions, are hot favourites to win the title.
France, however, wasn’t so lucky on the basketball court, where the American “Dream Team” went through with a comfortable 98-71 win. Kevin Durant for the US scored 22 points in his first Olympic outing while Kevin Love had 14. LeBron James, the second-highest earning athlete in the Games, added nine points.
The French team featured Tony Parker and five other NBA players.