France beats U.S. as Phelps chases medal record

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By Richard Allen Greene and Steve Almasy | CNN

LONDON — France beat the United States in the men’s 4×100-meter swimming relay on Sunday, with Michael Phelps and the United States taking a silver medal.

The medal is the 17th for Phelps, and puts him one behind Larisa Latynina, a Soviet gymnast who earned nine golds, five silvers and four bronzes between 1956 and 1964.

The U.S. held the lead for three of the four legs, but Yannick Agnel caught Ryan Lochte just after the turn and pulled away at the end.

One of the Games’ showcase teams, the U.S. men’s basketball squad, easily won its first game, beating France 98-71.

Kevin Durant led the United States, made up of NBA all-stars and the college player of the year, with 22 points. Kevin Love scored 14 points and Kobe Bryant had 10 for the U.S., which next plays Tunisia on Tuesday.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but that’s the beauty of it all,” Durant said. “We’re all coming together in such a short time. We’re having fun playing. Guys don’t worry about points, rebounds, assists; we just want to play to win.”

Coach Mike Krzyzewski was pleased with his team’s effort.

“I thought we did a good job defensively,” he said. “We share the ball. We assisted on 27 of our 31 buckets and we rebounded the ball very well.”

Many are hoping to see how this year’s American squad stacks up to the legacy of the 1992 U.S. basketball team, known as the Dream Team, which trounced the competition at the Barcelona Games by an average of more than 40 points. Some analysts called it the greatest sports team ever assembled.

There was a surprise for the U.S. gymnastics team when Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas finished ahead of world champion Jordyn Wieber in the all-around competition qualifying round. Each country can only send two athletes to the final so despite Wieber being fourth overall, she was eliminated from the individual competition. She will still compete for the U.S. in the team phase.

The United States topped Russia 181.863 to 180.429 in qualifying. The top eight countries will compete in the team finals Tuesday night.

The U.S. team, dubbed the “Fab Five,” carries the pressure of bringing home America’s first team gold medal since the “Magnificent Seven” did so at the 1996 games. But they must contend with the defending Olympic champion China, as well as Romania and Russia.

In the pool, Dana Vollmer of the United States set a world record in winning the 100-meter butterfly, becoming the first woman to go under 56 seconds.

The host nation got into the medal count standings when Lizzie Armitstead won a silver in the road cycling event for women. Marianne Vos of the Netherlands won the 140-kilometer (87-mile) race.

There was sad news for Great Britain when world record holder Paula Radcliffe said she was withdrawing from the women’s marathon, according to the nation’s track and field team website.

“However hard today is, finally closing the door on that dream, at least I can know that I truly have tried absolutely everything,” she said, according to United Kingdom Athletics. A recent foot injury was too much to overcome, said the 38-year-old.

U.S. marathoner Desiree Davila also dropped out of the August 5 race with a leg injury.

A gymnast from Uzbekistan was suspended provisionally for failing a drug test. Luiza Galiulina tested positive for the banned substance furosemide, the IOC announced, in the second drugs suspension of the Games.

Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter Zara Phillips made her Olympics debut on Sunday, riding in the British equestrian team as her mother, Princess Anne, and grandfather Prince Philip looked on. Phillips was ranked joint 15th with 57 riders having competed.

In skeet shooting, Kim Rhode became the first American to medal in five consecutive Olympics when she won gold with a world-record tying 99 (of 100) score.

China stayed on top of the medal count, adding five Sunday, including golds in synchronized diving and women’s 10-meter pistol.

Medals will also be awarded Sunday in women’s archery, men’s fencing, and men’s and women’s judo.

SEAT FILLERS

Security workers who have completed their shifts will be able to sit in vacant seats, a spokeswoman for the London organizing committee said Sunday.

“If they want to sit there and watch, they can,” said Sebastian Coe, chairman of the organizing committee. “It’s not mobilizing the army to solve this.”

Students will also have access to the seats, organizers said. They said they would also “recycle” tickets at events where fans are leaving after watching their team play an early game.

THE FIRST GOLD

Saturday, China claimed the first Olympic gold of the games with a victory for 23-year-old Siling Yi in the women’s 10-meter air rifle shooting.

“I’m very excited and happy,” she said, quoted by the official Games website. The world’s No. 1 shooter, who started at age 13, said there had been “a lot of pressure” on her to perform.

China’s veteran weightlifter Wang Mingjuan, 26, also powered her way to gold, besting silver medalist Hiromi Miyake of Japan by lifting a combined total of 205 kilograms.

“The gold is the reward for my 12 years’ hard work, my dream came true today,” she told Chinese state-run media.

Italy also made a strong showing by securing two gold medals, while the United States, South Korea, Brazil, Russia, Kazakhstan and Australia each took one.

CNN’s David Ariosto, Stephanie Halasz, Amanda Davies and Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.

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