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Olympics: Cal’s Kara Kohler rows to bronze

Cal student Kara Kohler earned a bronze medal Wednesday as she helped the United States to a third-place finish in the women’s quadruple sculls event at Dorney Lake.

It didn’t go quite as well for Cal alum and Piedmond native Zach Vlahos, coxswain of  the U.S. men’s eight boat, which finished fourth — one spot out of a medal. Heavy favorite Germany took the gold, with Canada second and Great Britain third, just 3/10ths of  a second ahead of the Americans.

Kohler, who grew up in Clayton and took a year off Cal this season to train with the national team, joined teammates Natalie Dell, Megan Kalmoe and Adrianne Martelli to finish with a time of 6 minutes, 40.63 seconds.

That was behind the winning boat from the Ukraine, which clocked in at 6:35.93 and second-place Germany.

This marked only the second time Germany failed to win Olympic gold in the event since it was added to the Olympic rowing schedule in 1988.

The experienced American boat, which needed to come through a repechage to reach the final, was neck and neck with the Germans until the last 500 meters when they started to tail off.

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Olympics: Another good day for Cal swimmers

Cal senior-to-be Caitlin Leverenz won a bronze medal in the 200-meter individual medley at the London Games on Tuesday. Leverenz, who earlier placed sixth in the 400 IM, clocked a time of 2:08.95 in the shorter race.

Former Cal swimmer Nathan Adrian won his first-round and semifinal heats in the 100 free, advancing to Wednesday’s final. His time of 47.63 in the semifinals was the second-fastest of the day.

Adrian will try to become the first Cal alum to win a gold medal in the 100 free since Matt Biondi in 1988.

Rowing: Cal grad Julie Nichols and her teammate Kristin Hedstrom won their repechage heat in the lightweight double sculls, advancing to the Thurdsay’s semifinals.

 

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Olympics: Coughlin won’t campaign for relay spot

Natalie Coughlin, appearing on the Today show in London on Monday morning, said she still could wind up swimming for a record 13th Olympic medal in Saturday’s 400 medley relay, but isn’t campaigning for it.

“I could . . . there’s a lot of factors that play into that,” she told host Matt Lauer. “We have a lot of options for the medley relay. I’m not trying to force myself onto the relay.”

Currently, Coughlin is not scheduled to compete in the medley relay. The decision will be made by U.S. coach Teri McKeever — who also is the coach at Cal and Coughlin’s personal coach — and her staff.

But it was McKeever and the U.S. assistants who made the difficult decision not to use Coughlin in the free relay final, despite the fact she swam well in the prelims.

Coughlin, the 29-year-old East Bay resident and Cal grad, has won 12 Olympics medals, tying Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres for most by an American woman. She collected No. 12 — a bronze in the 400 freestyle relay — without appearing in the final or on the medal stand.

“This is the first time I haven’t been on the medal podium myself. It’s a little strange,” she said.

Coughlin, who suggested last week she is open to returning to compete at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, stopped short of saying that’s a done deal.

“My thoughts change on a daily basis,” she said. “I’m going to continue to train and be fit. If I’m healthy enough to go for it, why not? My thoughts go back and forth on that.”

For now, she said, she is just going to enjoy London.

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Olympics: Bears happy for Vollmer

Twitter was filled with congrats messages for new gold medalist and world-recordholder Dana Vollmer:

Jeff Tedford@CoachTedford

Dana Vollmer- awesome!!! First woman under 56 sec. And gold medal! Cal family very proud of you !!! Go Bears!!!

Sandy Barbour@gobearsAD

Tears rolling down my face watching @DanaVollmer rec her gold medal & sing the entire National Anthem! Enjoy it Dana, u earned it! #PureGold

Teresa Gould@TKGould

Anyone else spot the Cal bag @danavollmer carried to the starting blocks on way to her WR? So proud of her! Thx for the Golden Bear love!

Alysia Montaño@Alysia800

Congrats @danavollmer!!! World Record! #GoBears @CalAthletics #London2012 #inspiration

Alex Morgan@alexmorgan13

Wow just went speechless after watching @danavollmer break the WR in the 100 butterfly! #amazingolympicmoments #anothergoldforUSA

And from the woman of the hour . . .

Dana Vollmer@danavollmer

I’m still shaking with excitement! Just now back in my room trying to fall asleep- what an amazing night! I couldn’t be happier! #fb

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Olympics: A busy day for the Bears

A wrapup of what Cal athletes did Sunday at the London Olympics:

– The headliner was swimmer Dana Vollmer, who set a world record in the 100-meter butterfly while winning the gold medal.

– Nathan Adrian, who also will swim the 100 free, swam a strong opening leg on the 4×100 free relay that took home a silver medal, finishing behind France.

– Cal grad Lauren Boyle of New Zealand placed eighth in the final of the 400 free (4:06.25).

– Dominik Meichtry, representing Switzerland, finished eighth in the semifinals of the 200 free (1:48.25) and did not qualify for the final.

– Freshman-to-be Rachel Bootsma finished sixth in the semifinals of the 100 back (1:00.04) and did not advance to the final.

– Cal product Erin Cafaro helped the top-rated women’s eight boat win its first-round race in the Olympic regatta. The Americans crossed the finish line in 6:14.98 — nearly six seconds ahead of runnerup Australia. Cafaro and her teammates will have to beat a strong Canada team in Thursday final to repeat as gold medalists.

– Cal grad Julie Nichols and rowing teammate Kristi Hedstrom finished third in their opening race of the women’s lightweight double sculls and will race again Tuesday for a bid in the Thursday semifinals.

– Finally, former Cal basketball player Max Zhang scored two points in six minutes off the bench in China’s loss to Spain.

 

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Olympics: Medal No. 12 bittersweet for Coughlin

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.”"

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Olympics: Jessica Hardy part of U.S. bronze-medal relay, while Natalie Coughlin sits

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.

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Olympics: Vollmer swims into 100 fly finals

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.

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Olympics: Vollmer sets American, Olympic records in 100 butterfly prelims

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.