July 28, 2012
LONDON - Day one of the 2012 Olympics was a busy one for the contingent of California Golden Bears in competition across the United Kingdom. The U.S. women's soccer team, featuring former Golden Bear All-American Alex Morgan, earned a berth in the quarterfinals with its second victory of the games, while swimmer Natalie Coughlin collected her historic 12th Olympic medal and Dana Vollmer posted a new Olympic record time in the pool to highlight the Bears in action on Saturday.
Current Golden Bear and 2011 All-Pac-12 honoree Betsy Hassett played 87 minutes for her home country of New Zealand in the Football Ferns' hard-fought 1-0 defeat to Brazil on Saturday at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. In her second career Olympic match, she earned her first career starting assignment, lining up in the midfield for New Zealand. Hassett recorded her first shot of the Olympics in Saturday's match. New Zealand and Brazil played scoreless soccer for the first 85 minutes before Brazil broke through for the deciding goal late in regulation.
Natalie Coughlin, one of the most decorated Golden Bears and United States swimmers of all-time, collected her historic 12th Olympic medal on Saturday. She competed along with fellow former Golden Bear Jessica Hardy as the United States earned the bronze medal in the 400-meter freestyle relay.
With her most recent Olympic medal, Coughlin joined Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres as the most-decorated female Olympians in U.S. history.
Coughlin swam the preliminary heats to help lead the Americans to the finals, where Hardy teamed with Missy Franklin, Allison Schmitt and Lia Neal to finish third in the finals with a time of 3:34.24, behind Australia (3:33.15) and the Netherlands (3:33.79).
The other highlight of the day was Dana Vollmer's Olympic record time (56.25 seconds) in the preliminary heats of the 100-meter butterfly to catapult her into the top seed for Sunday's finals.
Current Golden Bear senior Caitlin Leverenz made her Olympic debut on Saturday, swimming in the 400 individual medley where she tied with Australia's Stephanie Rice for sixth place overall with a time of 4:35.49. Leverenz, who led the way after the first 50 meters of the butterfly in her 400 IM final, will next be in competition on Monday where she will swim in the preliminary heats for the 200 IM
Hannah Wilson, who recently completed her Golden Bear career in 2011, swam for Hong Kong in Saturday's 100-meter butterfly. She recorded a time of 59.59 to place fifth in her heat.
Also competing in Saturday's 100-meter butterfly was Slovenia's Sara Isakovic (Cal 2009-12), who placed third in her preliminary heat with a time of 59.86.
Both Wilson and Isakovic fell just short of the qualifying time of 58.74 needed to advance to the semifinals.
In the other men's eight heat, former Golden Bear rower Olivier Siegelaar and the Netherlands placed fourth, clocking a time of 5:28.99. As a result, Siegelaar and the Dutch will race in Monday's repechage and attempt to advance to Wednesday's final. Germany won that heat (5:25.52) and joins the U.S. in the final.
Teti and Vlahos weren't the only Cal representatives to win their rowing heat on Saturday. In the men's pair, former Bear Scott Frandsen and his teammate David Calder were victorious in their preliminary heat. The Canadians crossed the finish line with a time of 6:23.80. Frandsen and Calder bypass the repechage on Monday and advance directly to Wednesday's semifinals. The final takes place on Friday, Aug. 3.
Looking ahead to Sunday's preliminary heats, former Bears Erin Cafaro and Julie Nichols will hit the water with Cafaro racing for the U.S. in the women's eight and Nichols for the U.S. in the women's lightweight double sculls. Cal's women's rowing head coach Dave O'Neill will coach Nichols and her teammate Kristin Hedstrom.
Cal had two swimmers compete in the heats of the 100 breast on Saturday. Damir Dugonjic (2008-11), a three-time NCAA champion in the 100 breast, placed seventh in his heat with a mark of 1:00.77 for his native Slovenia. Martin Liivamagi (2009-12), who helped David Durden's Cal squad win its back-to-back NCAA team title in March, was fifth in his heat with a time of 1:01.57 for Estonia. Unfortunately both Dugonjic and Liivamagi failed to advance to the 100 breast semifinals.