Canada battled some rough waters on the first full day of competition at the London Olympics.
Swimmer Ryan Cochrane was bounced from the final of the men’s 400-metre freestyle Saturday while the defending champion men’s rowing eight finished a distant fourth in its heat.
Canada is looking to finish among the top 12 countries in overall medals and is hoping to buck recent trends by getting some podium results early in the Games. The first seven days of the 2008 Beijing Games produced zero medals.
Canada still a chance at that coveted fast start. Emilie Heymans and Jennifer Abel compete in synchronized springboard Sunday, looking to build on the silver they won at last year’s world championship.
Julia Wilkinson is chasing a medal in women’s backstroke Monday. The dive duo of Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benfeito have podium potential in women’s tower Tuesday.
Cochrane was seen as Canada’s best hope for a medal on opening day, though it was an outside shot as his signature event is next week’s 1,500.
He squeaked into Saturday’s final, winning his heat to qualify in eighth spot. But he was later knocked out when defending champion Park Tae-hwan of South Korea successfully appealed his disqualification for false-starting in the heats. Park qualified fourth, and Cochrane was bumped down to ninth, one-hundredth of a second behind eighth-place qualifier David Carry of Great Britain.
Cochrane said he has already shifted his focus to the 1,500.
“Obviously placing 9th by 1/100th of a second has been a challenging thing to overcome,” he tweeted. “I’m now putting all my energy into this mile.”
The rowers are putting their energy into Monday’s repechage where they’ll need a top-four finish to book their ticket to Wednesday’s 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 advance directly to Wednesday’s final. The United States also advanced in the other heat.
Canada’s women’s basketball team, meanwhile, had a shot at a massive upset in its opening match only to lose 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.”
There were some bright spots for Canada on Day 1.
The women’s soccer team beat South Africa 3-0 as Canadian star Christine Sinclair scored twice and Melissa Tancredi added a single.
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.
Back in the pool, Scott Dickens of Burlington, Ont., broke his own Canadian record in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 59.85 seconds in his heat but didn’t advance out of the semifinals later in the day.
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. Savard finished eighth in her semifinal later and failed to advance.
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 4×100 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. In women’s doubles, Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China beat Toronto’s Alex Bruce and Michele Li 2-0.