Canadians get off to tough start at Olympics

LONDON — Canada has faced some early disappointment in the first full day of competition at the London Olympics.

LONDON — Canada has faced some early disappointment in the first full day of competition at the London Olympics.

Ryan Cochrane thought he had advanced to the men’s 400-metre freestyle swimming final after securing the eighth and final spot by winning his heat in a time of three minutes 47.26 seconds.

But the Victoria native was later knocked out when defending champion Park Tae-hwan of South Korea successfully appealed his disqualification. Park qualified fourth, and Cochrane was bumped down to ninth, one-hundredth of a second behind eighth-place qualifier David Carry of Great Britain.

“I think he’s more philosophical about the swim, he probably looks at it and needed to be faster more than anything,” Cochrane’s coach Randy Bennett said in a news conference when asked about the swimmer’s reaction to the appeal. “He followed my direction and won the heat, and usually that’s good enough in seeded heats.”

Cochrane also finished ninth in qualifying for the 400 freestlye at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The defending Olympic champion men’s eight rowing team finished a distant fourth in their heat Saturday to drop into the repechage.

Canada now needs a top-four finish in the repechage to advance to the final.

“We’re unhappy,” said Victoria’s Malcolm Howard. “We didn’t do what we set up to do. We’ll have to improve on Monday.”

Germany, which is undefeated in three years, won the heat to move directly to Wednesday’s final. The United States also advanced in the other heat.

In other rowing results, Scott Frandsen of Kelowna, B.C., and Dave Calder of Victoria won their men’s pair heat to advance to the semifinals while Michael Braithwaite of Duncan, B.C., and Kevin Kowalyk of Winnipeg finished fifth in their men’s double sculls heat and will race in the repechage.

Meanwhile, the women’s basketball team, playing in its first Games in 12 years, had a shot at a massive upset in its opening match before losing 58-53 to No. 2 Russia.

Canada had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter but Russia’s offence exploded with 21 points in the fourth, including an 18-3 run, and Becky Hammon’s basket with just over two minutes left gave Russia the lead for good.

Kim Smith of Mission, B.C., led Canada with 20 points including five three-pointers. She said the result helped 11th-ranked Canada make a statement early in the competition.

“We know we are a good team,” said Smith. “The rest of the world may not know that yet, but we’ve been building this program for two years and tonight I think we showed that.”

It wasn’t all gloomy for Canada, as the women’s soccer team beat South Africa 3-0.

Canadian star Christine Sinclair had a pair of goals, while Melissa Tancredi opened the scoring.

The Canadians (1-1-0) meet No. 4 Sweden to wrap up the preliminary round on Tuesday, and need to finish top-two — or be one of the two best third-place teams — to earn a berth in the quarter-finals.

In the pool, Cochrane won his heat in three minutes 47.26 seconds. But he will now have to look ahead to the 1,500 next week after Park, who was initially disqualified for a false start, was re-instated. Scott Dickens of Burlington, Ont., had a better day in the pool, breaking his own Canadian record with a time of 59.85 seconds to move into the men’s 100 backstroke semifinal later Saturday.

Katerine Savard of Cap-Rouge, Que., advanced to the women’s 100 butterfly semifinals after initially missing out by 0.2 seconds in qualifying. Savard moved on when Inge Dekker of the Netherlands withdrew. Stephanie Horner of Beaconsfield, Que., failed to advance in the women’s 400 individual medley, while Alec Page of Victoria was also eliminated in the men’s 400 IM.

In the women’s 100 freestyle relay, Canada was 11th and did not advance.

In table tennis, Ottawa’s Mo Zhang defeated Qatar’s Aia Mohamed in the preliminary round, then came back from two games down to beat Turkey’s Melek Hu 4-3 in the first round of women’s singles competition.

“I was nervous but I needed to keep fighting and not think about winning or losing,” Zhang said.

Zhang will face Austria’s Li Qiangbing in second-round action Sunday.

In men’s singles competition, Andre Ho of Richmond, B.C., lost 4-1 to Nigeria’s Segun Toriola in the preliminary round, while Latvia’s Matiss Burgis defeated Pierre-Luc Hinse of Gatineau, Que., 4-3 in the first round.

Elsewhere at the Games:

— Josh Binstock of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Martin Reader of Comox Valley, B.C., defeated Steve Grotowski and John Garcia-Thompson of Great Britain 21-19, 21-13 in the opening round of men’s beach volleyball competition.

— Victoria’s Ryder Hesjedal finished 63rd in the men’s cycling road race.

— Laval, Que., natives Stephanie Dubois and Aleksandra Wozniak were knocked out of women’s doubles tennis with a 6-2, 6-0 loss to Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova and Galina Voskoboeva.

— Montreal’s Sergio Pessoa was eliminated by Kazakhstan’s Yerkebulan Kossayev in men’s under-60 kilogram judo.

— In fencing, Victoria’s Monica Peterson won her opening match before being eliminated in the women’s foil individual round of 32 by American Lee Kiefer.

— Grace Gao of Calgary and Vancouver’s Tobias Ng lost 2-0 to Denmark’s Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen in their opening mixed doubles badminton match.

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