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YOU CAN ANGER CANADA, TOO

Published Aug. 13, 2012

For $29.95 you can get the T-shirt the U.S. women's soccer team donned after beating Japan for the gold, and that ticked off Canadians, still smarting over their semifinal loss (okay, some Americans weren't happy, either). Nike's "Greatness has been found" shirts are at teamusashop.com, among other websites.

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On the fast track

On the first day of track and field, athletes and other knowledgeable people at Olympic Stadium talked about the track being "fast" and prime for record-setting. The nine-day competition ended Saturday having had three world records - including the United States' demolition of the women's 400-meter relay mark by .55 seconds - two Olympic records, and a slew of national records, and season and personal bests. The track was built with technology that has been generating track-world buzz all season. Its surface, called Mondotrack, has shock-absorbing material built into the bottom instead of the top, meaning the upper layer provides better traction. That, in turn, lets runners wear flatter spikes that don't dig into the track as much, allowing for quicker turnover. But the track's maker isn't about to try to assess its "fastness." "There's such a human element involved," said Amy Millslagle, vice president for Olympic operations at Dow, which provides materials for the track. "And you can't prove one track is faster than another."

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Closing live online

NBC is giving in a little bit to criticism for not showing big events live. It said Saturday that it changed its mind and will stream today's closing ceremony live on NBCOlympics.com at 4 p.m. EDT. The ceremony still will be seen on TV in prime time on tape delay. NBC got its first big heap of grief for these Games when it didn't stream the opening ceremony live. "Going into the opening ceremony, we didn't have a sense for what our ratings would be and what streaming would or wouldn't do to our broadcasts," NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus said. "But we think we've learned enough and have promised to innovate and continually evolve our broadcast coverage."

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Term of the day

"Martialgym," used by Canadian martial arts and gymnastics instructor Mario Lam to market rhythmic gymnastics to men to make the ball-throwing, ribbon-waving, club-tossing activity sound less female-only. Rhythmic gymnastics is one of only two Olympic sports in which both sexes don't compete. The other is synchronized swimming (which for some will bring visions of a classic Saturday Night Live skit with Martin Short and Harry Shearer; Youtube it). The international gymnastics federation found in a survey that there is little activity in men's rhythmic gymnastics outside Japan, where it has martial arts elements. The International Olympic Committee says the federation has never mentioned that it would like men to join the Olympic event.

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You said it

After the U.S. women's relay team broke a world record, which stood since 1985, and vanquished their Jamaican rivals, I was expecting to see their victory dominating the front page of the sports section (Saturday). Instead, a very small article appeared below the fold while the entire page was dominated by male athletes. Then I turned to another article and was dismayed to see a picture of the men's relay team. After all the years since Title IX has allowed equal access for women to facilities, scholarships and opportunities, the Times really missed the mark on this coverage.

Susan Pendergraft, Largo

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Readers ask us I

Does the long hair flying out behind the runners create drag? Same for the swimmers: Does long hair shoved into those caps impact them somehow? Obviously not, based on the records, but it seems that it should.

The short answer: not enough to make a big difference. The effect on runners is discussed in an article at Slate.com's Olympics blog, Five-Ring Circus (click on Blogs at the top of the home page). For swimmers, caps help reduce the drag caused by the surface of the head in general (with caps' high-tech materials, they can even work better against drag than shaving a head). Covering long hair helps keep the hair from adding to the drag.

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Readers ask us II

Could you please explain the violations for which the officials give out cards in race walking?

Race walking is a progression of steps taken so the walker makes constant contact with the ground. No visible loss of contact may occur, and the advancing leg must be straightened (not bent at the knee) from the moment it hits the ground through the vertical upright position. The walkers' movements are monitored by judges on the course; each race must have a minimum of six judges and a maximum of nine. Under the rules of track's governing body, when a judge is "not completely satisfied" a walker is "fully complying" with the contact rule, he shows the walker a yellow paddle. When a judge sees a walker lose contact with the ground or bend a knee, he sends a red card to the chief judge. When three judges send a red card on one walker, the walker is disqualified and shown a red paddle.

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Unlikely platform gold for U.S.

David Boudia was once desperately afraid of heights, particularly the three-story height of the platform used for the men's high-dive competition. Saturday he dove from that 10-meter board with such flair under such pressure that he won an unlikely gold medal, the first U.S. men's individual diving gold since Greg Louganis in 1988, its first gold overall since 2000 and the first by a U.S. man since 1992. "I dreamed about this. It didn't even feel like I was diving, it was so surreal," said Boudia (pronounced Bo-DIE-uh), 23. He won on his last dive by 1.80 points over China's Qiu Bo in the closest men's platform contest since 1988, when Louganis won the last of his four golds by 1.14 over China's Xiong Ni. Britain's Tom Daley settled for bronze after leading going into the final dive in front of a raucous home crowd. American Nick McCrory was ninth in his first Olympics. Boudia had no idea he was tied for second with Qiu going into the last round. He scored 102.60 points on a back 2-1/2 somersault with 2-1/2 twists pike with a 3.6 degree of difficulty. It was the highest score of any dive in the final. Qiu followed and scored 100.80, not enough to deliver a seventh gold for China in these Games. "I was very nervous," Qiu, 19, said through a translator. "I have competed so many times, but I have never had that much nervousness."

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Bronze for U.S. in mountain biking

France's Julie Bresset took advantage of a mistake by defending gold medalist Sabine Spitz of Germany on a rough section of the picturesque mountain bike course in the English countryside, then gradually pulled away from the rest of the field, rolling through the last of six laps all alone to win the gold. Spitz was second, and American Georgia Gould took the bronze, the first medal for an American mountain biker since Susan DeMattai's bronze in 1996. "I knew that a medal was possible. I knew that on my best day I was capable of winning the race," Gould said. "Julie rode a great race. She was at the front at the start, which was smart."

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Mexico's golden stunner

On one side of the field, Brazilian soccer prodigy Neymar fell in despair. On the other, Mexican defender Diego Reyes dropped to the ground with glee. Mexico, a decided underdog, won the country's first gold medal at the Games - and first significant international soccer trophy of any kind - with a lively 2-1 victory over Brazil at Wembley Stadium. Oribe Peralta scored the first goal of the game 28 seconds in, then added a second 15 minutes from full time to set off a wild, raucous celebration among its fans. "We had 89-plus minutes to turn the match around," Brazilian coach Mario Menezes said, "but we didn't."

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U.S. drops gold to brazil

The U.S. women's volleyball team entered the gold-medal match as the favorite, and it played the role superbly early. But in scarcely more than an hour, the four years of work it put in since losing the gold medal to Brazil in Beijing seemed to evaporate. Brazil emphatically took the final three sets in an 11-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17 victory. The Americans, ranked first in the world, dominated the tournament, entering the final undefeated, including a dismantling of Brazil in pool play. But Brazil made changes that turned the match. "Once you start playing catchup, once you start reacting, it's very difficult," coach Hugh McCutcheon said.

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Other sports

- Qieyang Shenjie, the first Tibetan athlete China has fielded in the Olympics, took bronze in the women's 20-kilometer race walk. She finished 14 seconds behind winner Elena Lashmanova of Russia, who set a world record of 1 hour, 25 minutes, 2 seconds.

- Bantamweight Luke Campbell won Britain's first boxing gold medal in his division since 1908, dramatically knocking down rival John Joe Nevin of Ireland midway through the third round of a 14-11 victory on the first day of medal fights. Zou Shiming of China defended his light flyweight gold medal from Beijing with a 13-10 victory over Thailand's Kaeo Pongprayoon, who angrily protested the result.

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U.S. adds bronze in wrestling

American Coleman Scott made a surprise run to the semifinals in freestyle wrestling's 60-kilogram class before being drubbed by eventual gold medalist Toghrul Asgarov of Azerbaijan. But he ended up with a bronze medal. U.S. heavyweight Tervel Dlagnev lost his bronze match to Iran's Komeil Ghasemi. At 84kg, American Jake Herbert lost a quarterfinal to eventual winner Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan that led to a postmatch dispute between U.S. coach Zeke Jones and officials over scoring.

Compiled by Times staff writer Sharon Fink from Times wires.