Spectator and Spectrum are here throughout the next two weeks to bring you updates and interviews from Columbia Olympians in our #LondonLions series. Read below for an update on how Light Blue athletes fared in the past week. Follow and @CU_Spectator and @CUSpecSports to make sure you’re up to date. Check out our introductory story here.
A week of the XXX Olympic Games has come and gone. Swimmer Michael Phelps has again wowed the world, while newcomer Gabrielle Douglas achieved a first in American gymnastics.
Amid historical highs and new world records, Columbia alumni, students, and coaches started their work in London. Here's a look at how they fared.
Men's 400m: In the blink of an eye
This morning, Erison Hurtault, CC '07, waited for his moment to shine. But he knew it was possible that his Olympics could be over seemingly before they began.
Within less than a minute, Hurtault's Olympics were finished. He ran his season's best, 46.05 seconds. But he finished fifth in his heat, which was not high enough to qualify for the semifinals on August 4.
Hurtault, who had been a flag-bearer for Dominica, was the only man from his country to compete in this event.
Men’s lightweight four: Ivies on the water
Nick LaCava, CC ’09, had a slow start in his first race of the Olympic games. LaCava participated in the men’s lightweight four for Team USA and was joined by Princeton graduate Robin Prendes, Harvard graduate William Newell, and Dartmouth graduate Anthony Fahden.
The self-named “Ivy League 4” finished last in their heat with a time of 6:02.42. They came back in style the next day in the repechage, coming in first and progressing to the semifinal.
But the Ivy Leaguers' chances at a medal were stopped short on July 31, after they finished in the bottom half of their semifinal, beating out only the Czech Republic.
LaCava’s Olympic experience ended on August 2. The Ivy League 4 had to settle for the B Final, where they would race for places 7-12. Team USA finished second, in eighth place overall.
Women’s eight: Going for another gold
Caryn Davies, Law ’13, is no stranger to the Olympic games. Before coming to London, she had won the silver in Athens in women’s eight rowing and gold in Beijing. Davies and the rest of the American women were the heavy favorites going into the opening heat.
They did not disappoint.
The United States won the heat with ease, finishing more than six seconds ahead of second-place Australia, and automatically qualifying for the finals.
Canada had qualified for finals with a faster time than the United States, but when it came time to decide medals, Team USA came out on top. After starting out with a huge lead, the United States repeated its first-place performance, finishing a little over a second faster than Canada, who earned silver.
Team USA was euphoric once they realized they were again gold medalists, with grins were plastered across their faces. One member of the boat leaned back in relief, resting in the lap of her teammate. Although expectations had been high, the boat succeeded in creating a dynasty in rowing: This was the team’s seventh consecutive first-place finish at the highest competitive level.
Fencing: Twenty percent of the field
According to Columbia head fencing coach Michael Aufrichtig, Light Blue fencing is proving its strength by its presence on the biggest sporting stage the world has to offer.
“We’ve always been strong and it shows it now in 2012, that four of the 20 [fencers on Team USA], or 20 percent, are either current Columbia students or alumni,” he said in a recent interview with Spectator.
Unfortunately, Team USA's fencers have struggled at this year’s Olympic games.
In women’s individual foil on July 28, both Nzingha Prescod, CC ’15, and Nicole Ross, CC ’12, fell in the Round of 32 after receiving byes in the Round of 64. Hungary's Aida Mohamed bested Prescod, 15-10, and Tunisia's Ines Boubakri topped Ross, 15-8.
James Williams, CC ’07, suffered a similar fate. After receiving a bye in the Round of 64, he lost to eventual bronze medliast Nikolay Kovalev of Russia.
In women’s team foil on August 2, Team USA, including Prescod and Ross, fell to Korea in the quarterfinals, 45-31, and was knocked out of medal contention. Korea went on to win the bronze medal.
The United States bounced back, though, beating Japan, 44-22. When fencing against Japan, Prescod bested Japan's Kanae Ikehata and Ross bested Kyomi Hirata. The United States then fell to Poland, 45-39, and finished sixth out of eight teams.
In the men’s team sabre event, Team USA hoped to shock the world, as it did in 2008 in Beijing, when it won silver. But the United States continued to struggle on August 3, losing to the eventual fourth-place finisher, Russia, 45-33, in the opening round of play.
Jeff Spear, CC ’10, an alternate athlete for Team USA, was able to fence for the United States after it was fell to China, 45-28, in the consolation bracket. Spear saw action against Belarus, which topped the United States 45-35, meaning that the United States placed eight out of eight.
Field hockey: After an upset, medal hopes dashed
In its first game in London, USA field hockey, whose roster boasts incoming field hockey assistant coach Caroline Nichols, fell to Germany, 2-1. Germany took an early 2-0 lead in the first half, but Team USA was able to get onto the scoreboard due to a corner.
In its next matchup against Argentina on July 31, the Red, White, and Blue shocked the world, winning, 1-0, over the reigning world champion. Nichols, a defender, played 47 minutes in the shutout.
On August 2, the United States fell to Australia, 1-0. Australia took 14 shots on goal—twice as many the United States.
USA field hockey went into its fourth contest on Saturday against New Zealand needing a win in order to stay in contention for a medal. But a New Zealand goal with just 6:06 left to go in the game sealed Team USA's fate with a 3-2 loss.
Warming up: Who’s on the horizon
Several Columbians have yet to take the field—some still with a chance at the gold.
While U.S. field hockey may be out of medal contention, Nichols' Olympics aren't over. Her team will take on South Africa on August 6 at 5:45 a.m. EST to finish off its Olympic competition.
She's not the only Lion left in the XXX Olympic Games. Though most of the Columbia fencers have already finished competing, Sherif Farrag, CC ’09, has yet to take the world stage. On Sunday, August 5, he will take part in the men’s team foil competition.
Farrag will fence for Egypt, which starts the competition off against host Great Britain at 4 a.m. EST. If successful, Egypt will face fencing powerhouse Italy in the quarterfinals. Farrag’s teammate, Alaaeldin Abouelkassem, has already placed second in men's individual foil.
This is Farrag's first chance at team gold for men's foil—in 2008 in Beijing, foil was not a men’s team event.
While Farrag fences for his country, Lisa Stublić, CC ’06, will race for hers, also on August 5.
Stublić is the first-ever woman to compete in the marathon for Croatia. While on the cross country team at Columbia, she made it to the NCAA championships all four years and placed 10th her senior year, becoming an All-American.
Next week, in the final two days of London 2012, the men’s and women’s modern pentathlon will take place. Aufrichtig has been coaching participants in the fencing portion of the event.
Stay tuned for more updates from Spectator and make sure you follow @CUSpecSports to get live updates about Columbia alumni, students, and coaches participating in London 2012.
Myles Simmons contributed reporting.