Australia in London – 31 July update

LONDON – 31/07/2012 07:10:22 AM [AAP] The curse of favouritism struck Australia again in the pool at the London Olympics as Emily Seebohm had to settle for a frustrating silver after taking record breaking form into the final.

After smashing the Olympic record for the 100m backstroke in her heat, Seebohm went into the final on Monday night with a world record and Australia’s second gold medal in her sight. But neither came her way as she was overtaken in the last 10 metres by 17-year-old American Missy Franklin to prompt a flood of tears.

“I’m really happy, not that you call tell, that I got silver,” Seebohm said. “It is definitely a great achievement. I just wish I could have finished it off. So close, but I’m always just not quite there.”

At least she fared better than the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team who missed a medal altogether on Sunday after also going into the final as a clear favourite.

Bronte Barratt will be counting on beating the curse after qualifying fastest for Tuesday’s final of the 200m freestyle in which Kylie Palmer qualified seventh.

Stephanie Rice’s 200m individual medley title remains tentatively intact after qualifying sixth for the final, while Alicia Coutts is on target for her third medal of the Games.

Seebohm’s silver was Australia’s only medal on day three but there were encouraging signs for later in the Games with strong openings for the men’s hockey team, the men’s fours rowers and Laser sailor Tom Slingsby.

Drew Ginn’s bid for a fourth gold medal from as many Games is on track after his new generation Oarsome Foursome headlined the rowers’ best day of the Games so far, with all four boats in action progressing. Ginn and crewmates Josh Dunkley Smith, James Chapman and Will Lockwood broke the Olympic record as they won their heat convincingly to cruise into Thursday’s semi-finals.

Brooke Pratley and Kim Crow rowed straight into Friday’s final of the women’s double sculls with a strong win in their heat, while the women’s quad sculls qualified for Wednesday’s final.

The men’s eights snuck into their final by coming fourth in their repechage.

The men’s hockey and women’s water polo teams opened with good wins, but the women basketballers suffered a big blow to their medal hopes with a 74-70 loss to France in their second match.

The Opals can still make the quarter finals, with the top four in each six-team group going through, but they’ll face a tougher path toward the medals.

A hat-trick to skipper Jamie Dwyer set the Kookaburras off to a 6-0 romp over South Africa, while water polo captain Kate Gynther also led with three goals in Australia’s 10-8 victory over Italy.

Laser gold medal favourite Slingsby grabbed a big opening day lead at the sailing, finishing second and first in Monday’s opening heats off Weymouth to take an eight-point overall lead. World champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen also had a good opening day in the 49er class, to be third overall.

Australia’s equestrians plummeted out of the medal positions after a disastrous day in cross-country at the eventing competition, dropping from second to sixth in the team rankings.

Damian Hooper produced a blistering final round of his light heavyweight boxing bout to beat Marcus Browne of the US, but flyweight Jackson Woods’ Olympics is over after he lost to Algerian Samir Brahimi.

Australia is 10th on the medal table after day three, with one gold, two silver and a bronze, all won by swimmers.

[AAP]