* Deafening roars as athletics take centre stage
* British Heptathlete Jessica Ennis makes strong start
* Hindes crash controversy after British cycling gold
* Women's 10,000 metre final up for grabs
* Record-breaking Phelps seeks medal number 21 on Friday
By Mike Collett-White
LONDON, Aug 3 A packed Olympic Stadium took
centre stage on Friday with the opening day of the athletics
when home favourite heptathlete Jessica Ennis thrilled the
raucous crowd with a world best time in the 100 metres hurdles
Business was not quite done in the pool, where American
swimmer Michael Phelps - the most decorated Olympian of all time
with 20 medals including 16 golds - will race his last
individual Games event in the final of the 100 butterfly.
And on the seventh day of full sporting competition at the
London Games, the cycling velodrome promised more British glory
in the men's team pursuit and women's keirin.
Britain's men took cycling track team sprint gold on
Thursday, but the taste of victory was soured when German-born
rider Philip Hindes admitted to falling over on his bike on
purpose in the heats to avoid being disqualified.
"I did it on purpose to get a restart ... it was all planned
really," he told reporters, prompting shock among British media
and leading to calls for a change in the rules.
It also raised uncomfortable questions about gamesmanship at
the Games, after eight badminton players were thrown out for
deliberately losing matches to manipulate the draw, breaking the
spirit, but not the rules of their sport.
British cycling officials later said Hindes' comments were
lost in translation and the International Olympic Committee has
no plans to investigate the incident "at present".
The home nation has stormed up the medals table and a rowing
win for Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins before 25,000
ecstatic fans at Dorney Lake in the women's double sculls made
it six golds and fourth place overall.
Ennis, the London Games poster girl whose every move was
greeted with deafening roars at the 80,000-capacity stadium,
will hope to add to that tally after setting a world best time
for a heptathlete in the 100 metres hurdles.
A short but heavy downpour could not dampen spirits at the
main arena, where loud recorded music from Coldplay to Queen
blared out in a cross between an athletics meet and pop concert.
World champion Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya begins her bid for
a distance double in a much-anticipated 10,000 final where
Ethiopian Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba, who has the fastest
time of the year, is expected to be her main rival.
Cheruiyot also has her eye on the 5,000 next week as she
attempts to replicate her double gold from last year's world
Elsewhere in track and field, a trio of Americans will seek
to capture the men's shot put gold for United States for the
first time since 1996.
Reese Hoffa, Ryan Whiting and Christian Cantwell, silver
medallist in Beijing four years ago, set out to dethrone Olympic
champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland with Germany's world title
holder David Storl also likely to be in strong contention.
With the opening of the athletics, the jewel in the Olympic
crown, excitement has begun to build towards Jamaican Usain
Bolt's defence of his 100 title on Sunday and his 200 crown four
In their final duel before Phelps is due to retire, he
pushed fellow American and world champion Ryan Lochte into
second place on Thursday to become the first male swimmer to win
the same individual event three times at successive Games.
Missy Franklin, 17, chases her third gold medal in the 200
backstroke while Rebecca Adlington carries British hopes in the
800 freestyle, bidding to repeat her victory in Beijing.
United States also celebrated victories on Thursday in the
women's rowing eight and for 16-year-old Gabby Douglas in the
all-around gymnastics where she edged out Russian Victoria
Komova who was too upset to wear her silver medal.
"People keep saying I was the first black American to win
the gold medal and I'm so honoured," Douglas, nicknamed the
Flying Squirrel, told reporters after claiming the biggest prize
in women's gymnastics.
She helped the United States catch up with the Chinese in
the overall medal standings, with both countries on 18 golds on
day seven of full competition.
In the scandal over match-throwing in the badminton
tournament, disqualified Chinese Yu Yang announced she was
quitting the sport.
"This is my last competition. Goodbye Badminton World
Federation, goodbye my beloved badminton," Yu wrote on her
She was one of eight women, two each from China and
Indonesia and four from South Korea, kicked out of the Games for
playing to lose group matches in order to secure easier knockout
The badminton debacle and the cycling controversy have been
among the few sour notes of a Games distinguished by
enthusiastic crowds and Phelps's remarkable feats.
In the rowing on Friday, Britain's Grainger won her gold at
the fourth time of asking following three silver medals at the
last three Games.
New Zealand struck gold twice, with Mahe Drysdale taking the
men's single sculls and men's pair Eric Murray and Hamish Bond
cruising to victory in comprehensive fashion.
Germany powered to gold in the men's quad sculls, finally
getting their revenge on the young Croatian crew who had beaten
them all season.
But another German rower, Nadja Drygalla, who has already
finished competing at the Games, voluntarily left the Olympic
village following reports that her boyfriend was a far-right
Sergei Martynov, the 44-year-old Belarussian, used a
13-year-old gun and bullets from the Soviet era to win the men's
50 metre prone rifle with a world record score.
And at Wimbledon, Roger Federer of Switzerland remained on
course to repeat his heroics in the Grand Slam in July, beating
Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro in a marathon 19-17 third and
final set for a place in the final.