LONDON (Reuters) - Just 10 days after triumphing in the Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins won the Olympic cycling time trial on Wednesday on a golden day for hosts Britain, but a badminton match-throwing scandal left a sour taste on Day Five of the London Games.
Hunched over the handlebars, the man with the trademark long ginger sideburns powered home a gaping 42 seconds ahead of Germany’s Tony Martin to win his seventh Olympic medal, a record for a Briton.
In the pool, Nathan Adrian of the United States edged out Australia’s James Magnussen by the smallest possible margin, 0.01 seconds, to win the 100 metres freestyle and the unofficial title of world’s fastest swimmer.
The U.S. women won the 4x200m freestyle relay, while Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta broke the world record in winning the men’s 200m breaststroke. China’s Jiao Liuyang won the women’s 200m butterfly.
But the Games were brushed by scandal when eight women badminton players - two top-seeded Chinese, two Indonesians and four from South Korea - were disqualified for deliberately trying to lose their matches on Tuesday night in order to get an easier draw in the knockout phase of the tournament.
The spectacle of players deliberately hitting shuttlecocks out of court and dumping serves into the net drew jeers from fans at Wembley Arena.
“I‘m very, very sorry this has happened for both the players and for the sport,” Badminton World Federation secretary general Thomas Lund said.
China remained atop the medals table at a Games already packed with incident and notable for U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps’ feat of winning his 19th Olympic medal, breaking the record of Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina that had stood since 1964.
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Luo Yutong and Qin Kai ensured China remained on track for a clean sweep of Olympic diving titles as they won the men’s synchronised three-metre springboard gold.
Li Xiaoxia won an all-Chinese women’s table tennis final that left opponent Ding Ning sobbing and accusing an umpire of ruining her Olympic dream by imposing three penalty points - two for not throwing the ball up vertically on her service, and one for towelling herself down at the wrong moment.
“I didn’t do very well today. I had an obstacle and not only from the opponent but from the judge,” Ding said, trying to choke back tears.
Four years after letting the title slip through his fingers in Beijing, Japan’s Kohei Uchimura finally won an Olympic gold medal in the men’s all-around gymnastics to go with his three world crowns.
In the cycling time trial at Hampton Court, where King Henry VIII cavorted with his six wives, Wiggins cemented his own place in history by becoming the first rider to win the Olympic time trial and the Tour de France in the same year.
In the equivalent women’s event, American Kristin Armstrong prevailed. The 38-year-old took time off after the Beijing Games in 2008 to start a family, and her son Lucas was there to celebrate the moment with his mother.
Britain won its first gold of London 2012 when rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning dominated the women’s pairs before a screaming crowd of 25,000, including Princes William and Harry, and many more glued to television screens.
“Ecstatic!” Glover told reporters at Dorney Lake, west of London. It was only four years ago that she started rowing, and two since she teamed up with Stanning, an army captain who may be sent to Afghanistan next year.
Her exploits were cheered by fellow soldiers following the action at Camp Bastion in Helmand in the south of Afghanistan.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, during a visit to Northern Ireland, said he received the news after sitting on the “Wishing Chair” at Giant’s Causeway, one of Northern Ireland’s top tourist attractions.
“I was told I could make a wish,” he told reporters. “I won’t say what it was but as soon as I got back to my mobile phone I got the good news.”
The flap over the badminton was a reminder of just how far some countries and athletes will go to win gold, even if the Olympic charter says the Games are about sport pursued in “a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play”.
South Korea head coach Sung Han-kook admitted his two pairings attempted to throw their matches against China’s world champion duo and the Indonesians, but said it was in retaliation against the Chinese team.
“The Chinese started this. They did it first,” Sung told reporters through an interpreter.
He said the Chinese deliberately tried to lose the first of the tainted matches to ensure their leading duo of Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli could not meet the country’s number two pair until the gold medal decider.
“It’s a complicated thing with the draws. They didn’t want to meet each other in the semi-final. So we did the same. We didn’t want to play the South Korean team again”, Sung said, referring to the knockout stages.
Several players and coaches pointed the finger of blame at the Chinese team for creating the scandal.
“I can say China has played dirty,” said Poland’s Korean head coach Young Man Kim. “They fixed the matches, that’s why everything is messy here.”
China’s delegation said it fully respected the decision to disqualify the teams.
But players also slammed the BWF for instituting a format that was ripe for manipulation.
“Why would the tournament rules people have (a format) like this?” men’s singles world number one Lin Dan told reporters. “If they just had a knockout round it would all be fine. You lose and that’s it,” the Chinese added. (Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing, Laura MacInnis in Mansfield, Ohio, Ian Graham in Belfast and Avril Ormsby, Julien Pretot, Karolos Grohmann and Julian Linden in London)