While most of the world was abuzz over Usain Bolt's double back-to-back golds in the 100m and 200m sprints ("I am a living legend. Bask in my glory", proclaimed Bolt), David Rudisha of Kenya had arguably accomplished a more impressive feat on Day 13. The middle-distance phenomenon was the first athlete to set a world record at a track & field final at London 2012. No other runner has been recorded to have gone 800 meters in less than 1:41. Rudisha's speed has put the goal of breaking the 100-second barrier for 800m within reach of today's elite runners.
Rudisha must have been an inspiration to Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight and Carmelita Jeter, America's Women's 4x100m relay team. They followed his world-record performance with a golden race on Day 14 that smashed East Germany's long-standing world record by nearly one second. Three of the four members of the team had not even been born when that record was set in 1985. This was an amazing turn-around for the American team after a disastrous run at the Beijing Games, where a dropped baton kept them out of the finals. Second placed Jamaica finished more than half-a-second behind but there time was good enough for a national record and only 0.05 seconds shy of the old East German record.
The United States's men's relay team will have a difficult time matching their countrywomen, and indeed facing Jamaica. Like the men's 4x400m relay team, the best hope for the 4x100m team could be a silver since Jamaica's team will likely include the masters of the dash Bolt and Blake. But even making it to the finals is already a success for the team who also faltered with the baton at Beijing. Team GB were disqualified after a poor baton change.
In an article published in Significance, statistician Professor Ray Stefani calculated that Team GB would win 60 ± 11 medals - at the end of Day 14, Great Britain is at fourth place in the medals race with 57 total medals, including a bronze for Taekwondo fighter Lutalo Muhammed who was engulfed in a selection controversy when he was selected ahead of fellow Brit and world number one Aaron Cook. And there are still two days left of competition - a great estimate by Stefani!
Another commendable day on the track helped to add to the United States lead over China. With 47 events left to complete before the closing ceremony, America has earned a total of 94 medals and China 81.
Let's see how the 2012 performances in today's individual athletics events will stand in Olympic history.
Women's 1500m. It was a one-two for Turkey with a gold and silver finish for runners Aslı Çakır Alptekin and Gamze Bulut. These are the only two athletics medals for the nation so far. But compared to the historical record, the medal-winning performances were a bit of a disappointment. These are the slowest times in an Olympic final since the event was introduced at the 1972 Munich Games.
Women's 5000m. Countrywomen Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar of Ethiopa have been dominating this event since the 2004 Games. At Athens, Defar had the fastest time and Dibaba the third fastest; at Beijing, the standings reversed with Dibaba earning gold and Defar taking the bronze. This Summer's finals were a déjà vu of Athens. Defar was the leader once again and Dibaba, just 0.9 seconds behind, finished third. Though Defar was the champion with a time of 15:04.25, this was nearly 20 seconds slower than her 2004 result.
Women's hammer throw. While the improvement in the women's 5000m has not always been consistent, the athletes in the women's hammer throw have been getting better with each Olympic year. 2012 was no exception. Tatyana Lysenko of Russia launched past the Beijing gold throw of 76.34 meters by 2.98 meters (9.8 feet).
Men's pole vault. Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie set an Olympic record with his gold-winning highest jump of the day of 5.96 meters. This is the first athletics gold for France.