China Wins Four Gold Medals to Lead Nations at London Olympics

China won four of the 12 gold medals handed out on the first full day of competition at the London Olympics, including a historic one in men’s swimming.

China got the first gold of the games yesterday when Yi Siling won the women’s 10-meter air rifle. Sixteen-year-old Ye Shiwen set a world record in the women’s 400-meter individual medley swim, and Sun Yang, 20, gave China its first men’s swimming gold medal in history with an Olympic record in the 400-meter freestyle. Wang Mingjuan won in women’s weightlifting.

The Chinese team also added two bronze medals and stands atop the total table with six. Italy won two golds and is tied with the U.S. with five medals. Host Britain failed to win any events, with men’s cycling road-race favorite Mark Cavendish finishing 29th.

“I used this gold medal to finish my dreams,” Sun said. “This gold medal shows the Chinese people in a positive light. This was for all my team.”

Italy won the men’s team archery event, four years after losing the final to South Korea. The U.S. finished second in the competition, making the final by beating the defending champions. Italy won 219-218 on Michele Frangilli’s bulls eye on the final shot.

Elisa Di Francisca then led an Italian sweep in the women’s individual fencing foil by beating Arianna Errigo 12-11 in sudden death, while three-time defending champion Valentina Vezzali took the bronze.

‘A Dream’

“I have been chasing this medal for 16 years and the arrow at the 10, that was a dream,” Frangilli, 36, told reporters after winning the event with 29-year-old Marco Galiazzo and Mauro Nespoli, 24. “I could feel the noise of the crowd and I didn’t have enough time. I don’t know how I did it, I just emptied my mind and found the technique.”

Today, women’s cyclists will vie in the road race, and the gold in women’s team archery will be awarded among 14 medal events. The women’s finals in the 100-meter butterfly and 400- meter freestyle swim will be held, and the men will race in the 100-meter breaststroke and 400-meter freestyle relay.

The U.S. got its only gold when Ryan Lochte swam away from 14-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps to win the 400-meter individual medley.

Lochte ended Phelps’s attempt to win the same event at three straight Olympics. Phelps, 27, didn’t even win a medal, finishing fourth behind Brazil’s Thiago Pereira and 17-year-old Kosuke Hagino of Japan.

‘Capable’

“Going into these games I always knew I was capable of getting the win so I’m happy that I was able to do that,” Lochte, 27, said.

Lochte beat Pereira, 26, by 3 1/2 seconds in 4 minutes, 5.18 seconds to add the Olympic gold medal to the 400 IM world title he won last year. Phelps made the final by less than seven-hundredths of a second in qualifying. He was never a factor in the final, finishing more than four seconds behind Lochte.

“I was lucky to get in,” Phelps said. “It was just a crappy race.”

Ye of China easily won the women’s 400 IM in record time of 4:28.43, beating the mark of 4:29.45 set by Australia’s Stephanie Rice in Beijing four years ago.

China First

Sun beat defending champion Park Tae-Hwan of South Korea and Peter Vanderkaay of the U.S.. Park swam the final after a protest of his disqualification for a false start in his heat third morning was upheld by swimming officials.

Australia captured the final gold in the pool by winning the 400-meter freestyle relay ahead of the Netherlands and the U.S.

China’s Wang Mingjuan, 26, won the women’s weightlifting 48-kilogram gold medal. In judo, Russia’s Arsen Galstyan won the men’s under-68-kilogram gold medal and Brazil’s Sarah Menezes took the women’s under 48-kilogram title, while South Korea’s Jin Jongoh won the men’s 10-meter air pistol event.

Alexandr Vinokurov of Kazakhstan won the men’s cycling road race, beating out a pair of Britons in race favorite Mark Cavendish and Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins.

Vinokurov, 38, outsprinted Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran on the final straightaway after the pair spent the last several kilometers on their own. Cavendish finished 29th, 40 seconds off the pace.

“Most teams seem happy not to win as long as we don’t win,” Cavendish said to the British Broadcasting Corp. “It shows how strong we are. We have to take it as a compliment.”

Williams Wins

At the All-England Club, five-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams of the U.S. beat Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-1, to move to the second round of the tennis event. Men’s No. 1 seed Roger Federer of Switzerland defeated Alejandro Falla of Colombia 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. Former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych was upset by Belgium’s Steve Darcis, 6-4, 6-4.

The U.S. women’s basketball team beat Croatia 81-56 for its 34th straight Olympic win. Turkey defeated Angola 72-50, Russia got past Canada 58-53 and China beat the Czech Republic 66-57.

Megan Rapinoe, Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd scored as the U.S. beat Colombia 3-0 in women’s soccer, while Britain defeated Cameroon 3-0 on goals from Casey Stoney, Jill Scott and Stephanie Hougton. Japan and Sweden tied 0-0, Brazil beat New Zealand 1-0 and Canada defeated South Africa 3-0. France eased by North Korea 5-0.

Comcast Corp.’s NBC Universal said 40.7 million U.S. viewers watched last night’s tape-delay of the opening ceremony, making it the most-watched Olympic ceremony.

The gain in viewers was about 6 million more than watched the opening ceremony in Beijing in 2008 and 15 million more than the 2004 ceremony in Athens, the network said in an e-mailed statement. The highest viewership for an opening pageant at the Summer Olympics had been 39.8 million for the 1996 Games in Atlanta, NBC said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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