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Gator Nation Is At The 2012 Olympics, Days 7 And 8: Elizabeth Beisel Adds Medal, Will Claye Blazes Trail

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Catching up on two days with one post.

Elizabeth Beisel couldn't beat Missy Franklin. So?

Friday's big race by a Gator was Elizabeth Beisel's 200 meters backstroke, which I thought she had a good chance of winning. Missy Franklin had some other ideas.

Beisel swam the 200 meters in 2:06.55, good for bronze in the event ... and Franklin set a new world record with a 2:04.06 swim that left no doubt who the best woman in the pool was. Beisel's time wasn't even her fastest in the event at the Olympics, because she had qualified first for the final in 2:06.18, but had she repeated that, she would still have had to settle for bronze.

Of course, it's only "settling for bronze" because, if you're good enough to get to the Olympics, you probably think you're good enough to win gold. I think Beisel's haul of a silver and a bronze is good, and not nearly the end of her Olympic career, but how she feels right now might mean a little more. She's had two Olympics shots and done less than Franklin in one, and it's not like Franklin won't be around four years from now.

Beisel's going to be a junior in the fall, and she has two more years of SEC and NCAA titles before her if she wants them. When she's done with UF in the spring of 2014, though, is she going to want to go hard enough to take on Franklin, who looks like the finest swimmer of her generation?

Will Claye does the unprecedented

Gregg Troy got great contributions from two of his stars, Beisel and Ryan Lochte, en route to a fantastic performance in the pool by Team USA. Will Claye did the same for Mike Holloway on Saturday, and became a pioneer in the process.

Claye took bronze in the men's long jump with a personal record of 8.12 meters, beating fourth-place finisher Michel Torneus by .01 meters, which, well, I think the word "meters" typed out on your screen is probably longer than a centimeter.

But while Claye's likely ecstatic about that, and Holloway, the Gators head coach/Team USA coach in charge of the sprints and hurdles events, is likely ecstatic for him, I'm excited for what this does for Florida's track and field program. Under Holloway, those Gators have become a well-oiled machine, clicking off three straight indoor national titles from 2010 to 2012 and adding the program's first outdoor title this year. And that was building on relatively little history in the sport.

Now Holloway can sell championships and at least one Olympic medal to prospective Gators, along with his coaching and the Florida facilities and weather. Have fun with that, everyone else.

Oh, and Claye has the triple jump to go. Which is neat.

Medal shots for Clement, Williams-Mills

Kerron Clement, who turned pro in 2005, is one of the Gators who has been a professional athlete for so long that he barely seems to count (Dara Torres is the all-time champion of this, considering that she won her first Olympic medal before my parents got married, and had one of each color before I was even conceived), but he's still just 26. He's also got a chance to win a medal in the 400-meter hurdles on Sunday, after qualifying fifth for the final. Clement finished third in his heat, but would have beaten everyone in the third heat, and makes three Americans in the event final.

Novlene Williams-Mills, running for Jamaica, had a similar thing happen in the women's 400 meters on Saturday: She was third in her semifinal heat, but had the third-fastest time overall, and advanced easily to the final. She's of even less recent vintage than Clement, having graduated in 2004, but she'll have a better chance at a medal than he does, and so we have the Novlene Williams-Mills Corollary to the Gemma Spofforth Conundrum.

Rounding up the rest

Time for a list:

  • Abby Wambach scored again for the U.S. women's national team in a quarterfinal win over New Zealand. She, Heather Mitts, and the rest of the USWNT will be in semifinal action on Monday, and play Canada, which has Mel Booth on the team.
  • Lisa Raymond will play in bronze medal matches in both mixed doubles and women's doubles on Sunday.
  • Sinead Russell finished eighth in the 200 meters backstroke final.
  • Melani Costa-Schmid, Sarah Bateman, and Hilda Luthersdottir all failed to advance to swimming finals on Friday.
  • Azania Stewart's Great Britain team lost to France in overtime on Friday. She may be right about the basketball gods.
  • Jemma Lowe and Gemma Spofforth helped Great Britain finish eighth in the 4 x 100 medley relay.
  • Genevieve LaCaze set a new personal best in the women's steeplechase, but ended up about eight seconds shy of qualifying for Monday's final.
  • Tony McQuay moved on in qualifying for the 400 meters on Saturday.

Gator Nation Medal Count, Day 8

Total Medals: 8 (Ryan Lochte: 2 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze, one gold shared with Conor Dwyer; Elizabeth Beisel: 1 silver, 1 bronze; Will Claye: 1 bronze)

Total Medals For Individual Gators: 9 (Ryan Lochte: 2 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze; Conor Dwyer: 1 gold; Elizabeth Beisel: 1 silver, 1 bronze; Will Claye: 1 bronze )

Gold Medals: 2 (Lochte, men's 400 meters IM, and Lochte/Dwyer, men's 4 x 200 meters relay)

Silver Medals: 3 (Lochte, men's 4 x 100 meters relay and men's 200 meters IM ; Beisel, women's 400 meters IM)

Bronze Medals: 3 (Lochte, men's 200 meters backstroke, Beisel, women's 200 meters backstroke; Claye, men's long jump)

Percentage of U.S. Gold Medals, Excluding Transfers: 7.7 percent (2 of 26)

Percentage of U.S. Gold Medals, Including Transfers: 19.2 percent (5 of 26)

Percentage of U.S. Medals, Excluding Transfers: 14.8 percent (8 of 54)

Percentage of U.S. Medals, Including Transfers: 20.4 percent (11 of 54)

For the purposes of our medal count, I'm counting 34 members of Olympic teams as Gators, by the same criteria as Only Gators. GatorZone counts Gators letterwinners, including three who transferred and finished their collegiate careers elsewhere, meaning that Dana Vollmer. I'll calculate stats for both here.

If the University of Florida were its own country, it would currently be in 14th in the medal rankings, just behind Japan and just ahead of Cuba, and tied for 12th with the Netherlands in the overall Olympic medal count. The former stat ranks teams with better medals first; the latter only includes total medals.

Gator Nation no longer leads Great Britain, but is still ahead of Mexico and Brazil in both counts. I'm beginning to think that Mexico and Brazil at not good at the Olympics.