Our Elliott Almond filed this report on Cal legend Natalie Coughlin, who tied the record for most Olympic medals by a woman with 12 but still had a hard-to-swallow Saturday:
By Elliott Almond
LONDON – Natalie Coughlin’s historic 12th Olympic medal rested in a black box held by her long-time coach Teri McKeever.
Coughlin didn’t receive it during the medal ceremony Saturday night at the Aquatics Center after the United States set an American record to earn the bronze medal in the 4X100 freestyle relay.
Only the four women who swam in the final got the privilege of having their medals draped around their necks.
The former Cal great had an impressive swim in the morning preliminaries to help the U.S. women advance to the final. But for the first time in her illustrious career, she was relegated to a reserve role.
As a result, Coughlin, 29, felt the sting of disappointment despite joining Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres as the most decorated female Olympians in U.S. history.
“I was a little bit disappointed because I tend to get better as the meet progresses,” Coughlin said. “”But I don’t envy the coaches what they had to go through.””
Former Cal swimmer Jessica Hardy captured a bronze medal in the 4×100 freestyle relay, but Bears’ legend Natalie Coughlin did not get the chance to swim once more in the Olympics.
Coughlin added her 12th Olympic medal after swimming in the prelims. But she was not on the finals relay, which set an American record of 3:34.24.
The 12 medals are tied for the most won by an American woman at the Olympics.
Teenager Missy Franklin made her first Olympic appearance with a powerful opening leg of 53.52. Hardy swam the second leg and maintained the team for the Americans. Lia Neal and Allison Schmidt swam the final two segments for the U.S. squad.
Australia won in an Olympic record 3:33.15 with the Netherlands taking silver at 3:33.79.
Former Cal star Dana Vollmer breezed into Sunday night’s final of the 100-meter butterfly, winning her semifinal heat Saturday night at London.
Vollmer, who set American and Olympic records in her first-round heat, touched in 56.36 seconds in the semifinals — fastest time of either heat.
In the finals, she will duel Sweden’s world-recordholder Sarah Sjostrom, who won the other semifinal heat. Also in the final is American Claire Donahue.
Meanwhile, Ca’s Caitlin Leverenz finished in a tie for sixth in the 400 IM final, touching at 4:35.39, same as Stephanie Rice of Australia. Rice also lost her world record Saturday, snatched away by winner Ye Shiwen of China in a blistering time of 4:28.43.
Dana Vollmer’s quest for an Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly got off to a strong start Saturday morning.
The 24-year-old Cal grad had the fastest qualifying time in her specialty at 56.25 seconds, setting U.S. and Olympic records.
“I’m really happy with how fast it was and I think it’s only going to get faster,” she said. “That’s kind of a confidence-booster.”
Asked if she has a time faster than 56 seconds in her sights, Vollmer said, “I sure hope so.”
She added, “I like to push myself in the prelims and see where I’m going in my body.”
The top 16 qualified for the semifinals.
Multiple media outlets are reporting that Cal has made contact with Penn State junior linebacker Khairi Fortt, who will visit the Berkeley campus this weekend.
Penn State’s players are allowed to transfer and be immediately eligible in the wake of NCAA sanctions that were leveled on the Nittany Lions program.
SB Nation writes:
“One other prominent name is young and promising linebacker Khairi Fortt, who has been contacted by a host of schools that include Cal and Washington. The list is too long to think that he’s a shoo-in to try and transfer, and he might just stick to the East (Baylor and UConn are his two favorites right now).”
The Stamford (Conn.) Advocate newspaper contacted Fortt’s father Guy, and wrote that he told them “Khairi `loves’ the Penn State coaching staff, meaning that when all is said and done, that Khairi could stay with the Nittany Lions.”
Fortt, a 6-foot-2, 238-pounder, was a second-team USA Today All-America pick as a senior at Stamford HS.
Elliott Almond, our man on the ground in London, files this report on former Cal star Natalie Coughlin, who will swim in the 400-meter freestyle relay prelims Saturday morning while you are sleeping.
There’s a chance — but no guarantee — that Coughlin could be given a spot in the evening relay final.
The prelims will begin at 4:11 a.m. PDT and can be seen live — if you’re a fanatic — online at nbcolympics.com. The relay final will be held at 12:40 p.m. PDT.
Either way, Coughlin earns whichever medal the team wins.
And the medal would be her 12th in the Olympics, tying the record for most by an American woman at the Olympics.
Coughlin, 29, also talks about the possibility of returning for a fourth Olympics in 2016 at Rio de Janiero — a topic she has not publicly addressed before.
ESPN is reporting that USC is meeting Thursday morning with Penn State junior running back Silas Redd. In the wake of NCAA sanctions against the Nittany Lions, their players are free to transfer and play immediately at another school.
Redd rushed for 1,241 yards as a sophomore in 2011.
The Cal basketball team will face Drake on Thanksgiving night, Nov. 22, in the opening round of the Anaheim Basketball Classic. Tipoff is 8:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN2.
Drake was 18-16 last season, including 9-9 in the Missouri Valley Conference.
The Bears would face either Rice, coached by Ben Braun, or Georgia Tech in their second-round game on Saturday, Nov.24. The tournament concludes on Sunday, Nov. 25.
The opposite bracket in the eight-team event includes Saint Mary’s, Drexel, Pacific and Xavier. The Gaels, featuring Australian Olympian Matthew Dellavedova, open against Drexel on Nov. 22 at 1:30 p.m.
Former Cal swimmer Natalie Coughlin, winner of 11 Olympic medals, is ranked No. 10 on ESPN.com’s list of the greatest American Olympians.
Coughlin tweeted: “What a compliment. Named by
@ESPN as one of the top American Olympians in history. THANK YOU!”
Cal grad and Berkeley resident Alysia (Johnson) Montano sent out an instagram photo via her Twitter account, during a tour of London.
Montano is hoping to become the first American woman to medal in the 800-meter run since 1988.