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There was both joy and frustration for France’s athletes at the Olympic Games in Rio Tuesday with the country enjoying no shortage of podium places but missing out on adding to its gold medal tally.
The day also saw US gymnast Simone Biles win yet another gold, Usain Bolt make light work of progressing towards the 200m final and Great Britain continue its dominance in cycling.
France added a total of five medals to its Olympic tally Tuesday, two of them silver and three bronze.
Frenchman Marc-Antoine Olivier came in third in the men’s 10km marathon swimming event early on in the day’s schedule, followed by compatriot Melina Robert-Michon winning silver in the women’s discus just moments later.
Two medals in the men’s boxing followed, with Mathieu Albert Daniel Bauderlique winning bronze in the light heavyweight class and Sofiane Oumiha going one better to take silver in the lightweight category.
Dimitri Bascou rounded off the day with a bronze in the men’s 110m hurdles, finishing one place ahead of compatriot Pascal Martinot-Lagarde in a race won by Jamaica’s Omar McLeod.
Lavillenie jeered again
Another French athlete to narrowly miss out on gold, Renaud Lavillenie, was also back in the spotlight Tuesday as he was presented with the silver medal he won in the previous day’s pole vault competition.
Lavillenie, who had been favourite to win the gold, lost out to Brazilian Thiago Braz da Silva in a contest that was overshadowed by the booing of the Frenchman by the home crowd.
He was once again jeered by some in the crowd as he collected his medal, forcing Da Silva to raise his arms in an appeal for spectators to show respect to the Frenchman.
Lavillenie held his head in his hands but could not hold back the tears which streamed his face as he stood on the podium after receiving his medal.
Pole vault world champion Lavillenie had ripped into the behavior of the crowd on Monday, saying nothing like it had been seen since the treatment of Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He immediately apologised and retracted his statement, but maintained that Brazil had shown bad sportsmanship and a lack of Olympic spirit.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach also slammed the behaviour as “shocking” on Twitter.
For Brazil fans, meanwhile, Da Silva receiving his gold was one of several highs and lows Tuesday. Their women’s soccer team and top-ranked beach volleyball duo were eliminated from the Olympics, but lightweight boxer Robson Conceicao gave the host nation a lift with a stirring victory in his gold medal bout.
Conceicao whipped the packed arena into a frenzy with every jab as he claimed the country’s first gold medal in boxing.
Biles and Bolt on form
Elsewhere, Biles won the floor exercise Tuesday for her fourth gold of the games — only the fourth Olympic gymnast to do so.
“It’s been a long journey,” the 19-year-old Biles said. “I’ve enjoyed every single moment of it. »
She added a bronze in the balance beam Monday in what marked the first day of a Summer Olympics since 2008 the United States did not win a gold medal. The US had claimed gold on every day of the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
Bolt, meanwhile, easily won a qualifying race in the 200 meters, the first step in his bid for the gold Thursday.
“I came out here to qualify,” Bolt said, “and that’s what I did.”
Bolt has already won his third Olympic gold medal in the 100m in Rio and is looking to repeat the feat in the 200m in what he has said will be his last ever Games.
Rivals question Britain’s cycling success
Finally, Great Britain was once again dominant in the velodrome, with Laura Trott cruising to victory in the omnium shortly before her fiance Jason Kenny rounded off a momentous six days by powering to keirin gold, his third of the Games.
In the process Trott took her Olympic medal haul to four golds from two Olympics — more than any other British woman — and Kenny matched British track great Chris Hoy’s six golds.
Britain’s outstanding record in cycling in recent Olympics has seen some competitors raise questions about how the success is being achieved.
“Of course we are wondering,” Germany’s Kristina Vogel, who did stem Britain’s charge by winning the women’s sprint, told reporters on the final day of a memorable track programme.
“It seems they do nothing for three years, then they start at the Olympics and kill us.”
However, Iain Dyer, the team’s head coach was adamant there was nothing untoward about Britain’s haul of cycling golds.
“First of all, we have outstanding athletes,” he said.
“Then we target the Olympics. We set ourselves up to be successful every four years. If you aim to peak every four years, it needs to be a bloody good peak — otherwise it’s just a pimple.”