Felix strikes gold, China's pitiless ping-pong and why is beach volleyball so popular?
Five things we learned on day 12 of the London Olympics.
- You should practice penalty shoot-outs. New Zealand's women's hockey took the world's best side, the Netherlands, to the limit. But come the penalty shoot-out crunch they were abject. New Zealand coach Mark Hager said the players hadn't really gone through the scenario because he hadn't forced the issue and not enough of them had come forward. They paid the price for their lack of vision scoring only one of their five attempts. The Netherlands will play the world's second-best team, Argentina, in the final.
There's nothing like perseverance. Allyson Felix from the United States had twice been the bridesmaid in the women's 200 metres. But after silver in Athens and Beijing, she struck gold in London.
- China should share a little love in the table tennis. Since the sport became an Olympic discipline in 1988, the Chinese have won 24 out of the 28 gold medals that have been on offer. In this year's Olympics they did a grand slam of four out of four; men's and women's singles and men's and women's team events.
- The International Olympic Committee executives that allowed beach volleyball into the Olympic family deserve much credit. It was introduced in 1996 amid much controversy but it has become immensely popular. I personally can't work the reason out. Well-honed scantily clad young men and women throwing themselves around in the sun? Maybe I'll understand one day. Anyway, 15,000 people turned out in Horse Guards Parade near Buckingham Palace to watch Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings maintain their reign as queens of the beach. They kicked sand to land their third consecutive title.
- There can be days when the hosts don't win any gold medals.