TRACK and field gets underway on Day 7 of the London Games, while plenty of medals are up for grabs in other events.
1.47AM AEST – Stingers clinch top spot
The Australian women’s water polo team have secured top spot in their group with a 11-8 triumph over Russia.
Defender Nicola Zagame scored four goals and captain Kate Gynther and Bronwen Knox eached netted two in Australia’s victory against the previously unbeaten Russians.
The Stingers progress to the quarter-finals of the tournament undefeated after remaining undefeated during the preliminary rounds.
Australia will play the loser of Friday night’s match between Great Britain and Italy in their knockout quarter-final.
1.24AM AEST – Sharapova to play for Olympic gold
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Russian world No.3 Maria Sharapova swept into her first Olympic final by defeating compatriot Maria Kirilenko in the semi-finals.
Sharapova hit a forehand drive volley past Kirilenko on match point to seal the 6-2 6-3 victory.
The win sets up a final showdown with the winner of the clash between world No.1 Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams.
Sharapova has won four grand slam titles, including this year’s French Open. She missed the Beijing Olympics in 2008 because of a shoulder injury.
12.47AM AEST – Ainslie shows nerves of steel
British sailing superstar Ben Ainslie held his nerve to take victory in today’s second Olympic Finn race and set up a showpiece final on Sunday.
The triple gold medallist’s chances of winning the Finn class gold medal appeared dashed after he finished the day’s first race behind overall leader, Denmark’s Jonas Hogh-Christensen.
But under immense pressure, Ainslie took victory in the day’s second race by more than 200-metres in Weymouth Bay while Hogh-Christensen could only manage third.
Ainslie won gold in Sydney, Athens and Beijing and is bidding to become Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor. Hogh-Christensen finished sixth in Beijing and ninth in Athens.
Australia’s Brendan Casey finished the second Finn race fifth – a result which meant he failed to qualify for the medal race, and his Games is now over.
11.50PM AEST – Shooters still off-target
Australia’s shooters still have not found their aim at the London Olympics, with all three in action today finishing well back in their respective fields.
Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Warren Potent missed the final in the 50m rifle prone event at the Royal Artillery Barracks on Friday after his score of 591 put him in 32nd place.
Dane Sampson came in 48th in the same event.
And London Olympics are over for the Chapman family after David Chapman finished the qualifying rounds of the 25m rapid fire pistol in 18th place.
Earlier in the week, Chapman’s daughter and Olympic debutant Hayley came in 34th in the women’s 25m pistol.
11.37PM AEST – Breaststroke champ confesses to cheating
South African breaststroker Cameron van der Burgh has made the extraordinary concession that he cheated his way to gold ahead of Australian Christian Sprenger in the 100m breaststroke final.
As revealed first on LondonNow, underwater footage clearly showed van der Burgh doing three dolphin kicks at the start of the race.
Under FINA rules, swimmers are permitted one but because the governing body does not use underwater technology he won the gold without sanction.
But van der Burgh was unapologetic about breaking the rules – and accused Australian veteran Brenton Rickard of doing the same thing in the final.
11.02PM AEST – Aussie cyclist’s parents abused at velodrome
AUSTRALIAN Olympic bronze medallist Kaarle McCulloch’s parents have been verbally abused at the velodrome, prompting police to arrest four British spectators.
Karen McCulloch and her partner Ken Bates were repeatedly taunted by three men and a woman during the opening session at the velodrome overnight.
It is understood Mrs McCulloch and Mr Bates were repeatedly taunted by the group after Great Britain was disqualified from the team sprint because of an illegal changeover.
McCulloch, who won team sprint bronze with Anna Meares, said she “shared a tear with her parents” after the event.
10.50PM AEST – Costly stumble for steeplechaser
A stumble at the final barrier has cost luckless Australian Youcef Abdi a spot in a second successive Olympic 3000m steeplechase final.
Abdi took a turn at the front with 600m to go and was still sitting in the last of the four automatic qualifying positions with 50m to run.
But the 34-year-old clipped the final barrier, allowing Finland’s Jukka Keskisalo and Russian Nikolay Chavkin to pass him as he slipped to sixth in 8:29.81.
Reigning Olympic champion Brimin Kipruto from Kenya took out the heat in 8:28.62.
REPLAY REECE HOMFRAY’S LIVE BLOG OF THIS MORNING’S EVENTS BELOW
9.56PM AEST – Opals fend off Russian assault
Liz Cambage became the first woman ever to pull off a slam dunk at the Olympic Games as the Opals survived a late Russian barrage to win their third game at the London Olympics.
At Basketball Arena, the Opals managed to hold off Russia to win 70-66.
It is their third win in London after dropping just one game to France in their second match.
Cambage topscored for the Opals with 17 points while Suzy Batkovic wasn’t far behind with 15 points.
Russia’s top playmaker Irina Osipova put 15 points on the board for her team.
Australia will play Canada next on Sunday.
9.44PM AEST- Seebohm helps Aussies sizzle
Australia’s women’s 4x100m medley relay team has qualified fastest for tomorrow night’s final.
Emily Seebohm, Leisel Jones, Alicia Coutts and Brittany Elmslie swam their heat in 3:55.42 to be almost two and a half seconds quicker than next best Japan.
And Australia’s men’s 4x100m medley team also advanced into their final as fourth fastest qualifiers.
Hayden Stoeckel, Brenton Rickard, Matt Target and Tommaso D’Orsogna clocked 3:33.73, with the United States team the fastest into the final in 3:32.65.
9.35PM AEST – Silver for Aussie rowing pair
Kim Crow and Brooke Pratley have added to Australia’s success at Eton Dorney, claiming silver in the women’s double scull.
The Australian pair took it to British world champions Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins but were outdone.
Grainger had won silver medals at the three previous Olympics and was an odds-on favourite with Watkins to win after dominating the event for the past three years.
Crow immediately started preparations for tomorrow’s single sculls final after the race, hopping on a rowing machine while attending to her media commitments.
9.29PM AEST – No Aussies in 1500m freestyle final
Australia will not have a representative in the 1500m after youngster Jarrod Poort finished last in his heat for the long distance event.
Poort, 17, looked out of his depth in clocking 15:20.82 – seven seconds outside his personal best.
Australia has had more success in the men’s 1500m freestyle than any Olympic event.
The golden honour board reads like a who’s who of Australian swimming, featuring household names such as John Konrads, Murray Rose, Kieren Perkins and Grant Hackett.
9.14PM AEST – Kiwis strike another gold
New Zealand has won its second gold medal of the Games after rowers Hamish Bond and Eric Murray dominated their rivals by nearly five seconds to win the men’s pair at the Eton Dorney.
Bond and Murray, one of the most dominant crews in the sport, won in a time of 6:.16.65 to finish well clear of France and Great Britain.
The Kiwi pair haven’t lost a race since joining forces after the Beijing Games in 2008, where they were part of a quadruple sculls boat that failed to reach the final despite being gold-medal favorites.
8.44PM AEST – Aussie quad sculls secure bronze
Australia has added another medal to its tally, with the men’s quadruple sculls crew winning bronze in the Olympic rowing regatta at Eton Dorney.
Germany won gold while Croatia narrowly finished ahead of the Australian crew of Dan Noonan, James McRae, Karsten Forsterling and Chris Morgan.
It was a sweet victory for the Germans, who led last year’s world championship final in Slovenia for the entire race before catching a crab just before the line, allowing the Australians to snatch victory.
Once again, Germany led from the outset in breezy conditions and powered away from Croatia by a length in the second 1000m.
Australia trailed Great Britain at the halfway mark but quickly lifted their stroke rate and were challenging Croatia with 400m to row.
8.39PM AEST – Ennis off to flying start in heptathlon
Local heroine Jessica Ennis made a remarkable start to the heptathlon at the London Olympics, clocking the fastest-ever 100m hurdles in the seven-discipline event.
Ennis’s winning time of 12.54 seconds equalled American Dawn Harper’s gold-medal time in the individual 100m hurdles at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
It was also faster than the 12.56 run by gold medal favourite Sally Pearson in her final pre-Games meet at Crystal Palace in mid-July.
Ennis, 26, won gold in the heptathlon at the 2009 world championships and silver at the 2011 world titles in Daegu.
Her elevated status in Britain is similar to that of Cathy Freeman at the 2000 Sydney Games.
8.24PM AEST – Good start for Aussies at the track
Australian debutants Brendan Cole and Tristan Thomas have advanced to the 400m hurdles semi-finals on the opening day of the track and field competition.
Cole clocked 49.24 seconds in the first heat, stripping 11 hundredths of a second off the personal best he set three years ago in Japan.
Thomas, drawn in the “heat of death”, finished fourth in 49.13 behind Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson and two-time world champion Kerron Clement from the United States.
But Australian Dale Stevenson was eliminated in the preliminary round of the men’s shot put. He could only manage a best throw of 19.17m, well shy of his PB of 20.63m.
8.16PM AEST – Aussie archer proves his worth
Australian archer Taylor Worth capped a startling rise in world archery by forcing a tense shoot-off with China’s Dai Xiaoxiang in the men’s finals at Lord’s.
Worth matched the Chinese archer shot for shot until the shoot-off, when he fired an 8 to his opponent’s 9 – effectively losing by just three centimetres.
It was a remarkable performance by the cool 21-year-old West Australian, who did not know until a month before the Games that he was going to represent Australia.
7.49PM AEST – Campbell sisters into 50m semis
CATE Campbell has recovered from a bout of gastro to qualify 10th fastest for the semi-finals of the 50m freestyle.
Campbell touched the wall in 24.94sec to finish third in her heat behind Sweden’s Therese Alshammar (24.77) and sister Bronte (24.87).
Dutch swimmer Ranomi Kromowidjojo, the 100m freestyle gold medallist, was the fastest qualifier in 24.51sec.
Campbell was forced to withdraw from the 100m freestyle heats on Wednesday after being struck down with a bug after claiming gold in the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay on the opening night.
7.13PM AEST – Booth to apologise, pay damage bill
Australian rower Josh Booth will offer a personal apology and pay STG1400 ($A2,100) to the owners of two shops he damaged in a bid to avoid criminal charges.
Booth is alleged to have damaged two shop windows in Egham before being arrested and passing out at the local police station and hitting his head on Wednesday night.
AOC deputy chef de mission Chris Fydler said the men’s eight crew member was cooperating with local police.
“We’re working with the local police and it is at their suggestion that were following the steps that they’ve provided to us,” Fydler said.
“As long as they’re conducted appropriately … we feel confident that we can work with those police to avoid those charges for Josh.”
7.05PM AEST – Kookaburras held against Argentina
The Kookaburras have been held to a 2-2 draw against world No.9 ranked Argentina in the men’s hockey pool match at Riverbank Arena.
A penalty from 19-year-old Gonzalo Peillat in the 68th minute secured the draw for Argentina after the top-seeded Aussies went into the break with a 2-0 advantage.
Matthew Butturini (11th minute) Jamie Dwyer (35th minute) secured the early lead for the Kookaburras before Matias Vila struck for Argentina in the first minute after half-time.
Dwyer’s strike on the brink of half-time was his 180th international goal, breaking the Australian record held by the legendary Mark Hager.
Australia was coming off two impressive wins over South Africa and Spain in its opening two pool matches.
TONIGHT’S PROGRAM – DAY 7
Eamon Sullivan will go for gold in the pool, Anna Meares and our men’s pursuit team will aim for the stars in the velodrome, and the Aussie men’s quadruple sculls team looks to become golden boys in the rowing.
Read on for a preview of some of tonight’s top events, and don’t forget to join us from 6pm AEST for our live coverage of day seven of the London Olympics.
Men’s long jump (Mitchell Watt and Henry Frayne), 4.50am Saturday AEST
The London Games hit the track for the start of the athletics program, but it’s in the field where some of Australia’s best hopes lie.
One event that we’re a good shot at a medal in is the men’s long jump, with Australian Mitchell Watt the current world silver medallist and compatriot Henry Frayne isn’t too far behind.
The leaping Aussies will look to start strong in the qualification round on day seven, as will fellow Australian Dani Samuels in the women’s discus.
Samuels became the youngest ever world discus champion when she won gold in Berlin in 2009 as a raw 21-year-old, and while she hasn’t quite regained that form since, she’s still a strong chance of grabbing a medal in London.
Men’s 50m freestyle final (Eamon Sullivan), 5.09am Saturday AEST
Australia’s swim meet has been disappointing so far but there’s still time to salvage some pride, starting with Eamon Sullivan in the 50m freestyle.
Sullivan is flying the Aussie flag after James Magnussen missed out on the final, and while Sullivan isn’t in the same kind of form that saw him break the world record back in 2008, his experience means he’s in with a shot in a race that can be a bit of a lottery.
On the women’s side, Meagan Nay will fancy her chances in the 200m backstroke final after qualifying third-fastest, although she has the American dynamic duo of Missy Franklin and Elizabeth Beisel to contend with.
Men’s team pursuit, 1.18am Saturday AEST (final 2.59am)
Australia’s sporting rivalries with New Zealand and Great Britain are equally as fierce, and our boys have a chance to knock off our two great rivals in one day in the men’s team pursuit.
The Aussie team of Jack Bobridge, Glenn O’Shea, Rohan Dennis and Michael Hepburn take on the Kiwis in their first round race and could potentially meet the Brits in the final.
Women’s keirin, 12am Saturday AEST (finals 3.38am)
Speaking of rivalries, Anna Meares gets to resume hers with Victoria Pendleton when the two take part in the women’s keirin.
Both scored victories of sorts on day one of competition, with Pendleton’s team beating Meares and Kaarle McCulloch in the qualification round of the team sprint, but the Aussies getting the last laugh when they claimed bronze after the Brits were disqualified in a later race for an illegal takeover.
Australian women’s basketball team v Russia, 8.05pm Friday AEST
This is a repeat of the 2006 world championships gold medal match, which the Opals won.
They’ll be looking for the same result tonight, and Lauren Jackson will want to repeat her performance from the Opals’ previous game, against Brazil, where she scored 18 points to become the all-time leading scorer in Olympic women’s basketball history.