Sydney at Rio - Opals out, but Ryan sails on

17 August 2016

While a shock loss saw the Opals eliminated, the wind is still in Will Ryan's sails in the 470 Class sailing, while Brendon Reading will be attempting to walk his way to the podium in the 50km event.

Katie Ebzery

In a shock loss, the Opals have been narrowly beaten by Serbia, 73-71, in their quarter-final clash to sadly end their Olympic campaign.

It was meant to be a match-up where Australia had high hopes of winning, being undefeated in Group A and versing Serbia who finished fourth in Group B, however the script did not play out.

Serbia were tenacious in defense and the Opals were not their clinical best, yielding 26 turnovers to Serbia’s 9 and not being able to reproduce their last-quarter heroics as they have when needed in this tournament.

The enormity of the opportunity lost was clearly evident on the faces of the devastated Opals as the full-time buzzer sounded.

Inspirational captain, Penny Taylor, felt it hard as she was playing possibly her last game for Australia and had missed the London 2012 games due to injury. Australia has won an Olympics women’s basketball medal of one colour or another at every Games since 1992.

The Opals, uncharacteristically struggling to control the ball, were also off target in their shooting, landing just 23 of their 44 two-point shots. Despite this, the game was still in the balance in the final quarter with the Opals having their nose in front 67-66 with two minutes on the clock. However, Serbia seemed to manage the pressure better and their aggressive defense was the foundation of their victory.

For the Opals, Liz Cambage top scored with a game-high 29 points followed by Rachel Jarry with 14 points. Katie Ebzery, with limited court time of just 5 minutes, was her usual energetic self in both attack and defense and grabbed a defensive rebound.

Despite the gut-wrenching loss the Opals have been a shining light in the women’s basketball competition in Rio and every pundit firmly believes the team has a very bright future with quite a few young players in the squad.

Murray Stewart 

In a day of mixed fortunes for Australian athletes in Rio, kayaker Murray Stewart has finished just out of the medals, fourth in the Men’s Single Kayak 1000 metre final.

Leading with 250 metres to go, Murray just couldn’t hold on as three other paddlers surged past.

With a point to prove to selectors after being replaced in the K4 crew due to a bout of glandular fever that floored him earlier this year, Murray has been concentrating on the back-end of his race but unfortunately it wasn’t to be, finishing less than four-tenths of a second away from bronze.

Dubbed many things by an excited media since he made the final, including ‘the architect with the golden design’ and the ‘accidental hero,’ from being pitched into the men’s K1 event after being replaced in the K4, Murray was all class in defeat.

The quietly spoken paddler, who lives and works as an architect at Queenscliff, on Sydney’s northern beaches, possesses a kayaking resume of extraordinary dimension and quality. Murray has won numerous Australian and international races, across all kayaking formats, K1, K2 and K4 since he first joined the Australian senior team in 2009.                

zMarcus Walz of Spain, with a blistering finish, won the K1 final in a time of 3:31.447 with Stewart posting 3:33.741 for his fourth placing. While Stewart was a member of the gold medal winning Aussie K4 crew in London 2012, he also competed in the K1 too but failed to make the final so his result in Rio by comparison is a big improvement, despite the pain of missing a medal.

Murray Stewart Finishes 4th Men's K1 1000m | CLICK to WATCH

Michelle Jenneke

Sydney University Athletics Club member Michelle Jenneke made a disappointing exit from the Games after missing a place in the semi-finals of the women’s 100 metre hurdles.

Jenneke was eliminated in the opening round of the event, coming sixth in her heat in 13.26 seconds, almost half a second slower than her personal best set last year.

Brianna Rollins of the US won the heat in a slick 12.54, ahead of countrywoman Kristi Castlin (12.68) and Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico (12.70).

Jenneke booked her ticket to Rio after winning the national title in a time of 12.93 at the 2016 Australian Championships. Her personal best time of 12.82 was set at the 2015 Australian Championships. She also ran a time of 12.94 when finishing third at the 2015 World University Games in Gwangju.

As a member of the SUSF Elite Athlete Program, Jenneke successfully negotiates the challenges of juggling elite sport with her Bachelor of Engineering studies at Sydney University.

Madeline Hills

Australian distance-running historians are scrambling to keep up as our remarkable female runners continue to forge into new territory at the Rio Olympics. Madeline Heiner Hills, less than 24 hours after recording a personal best in her historic seventh place in the Women’s 3000m Steeplechase final, backed up in heat 1 of the 5000 metres, running courageously to qualify for the final.

Hills finished sixth in heat 1 in a time of 15min 21.33sec. The heat was won by Kenyan Hellen Onsando Obiri in 15:19.38, with Yasemin Can of Turkey finishing second in 15:19.50 and Mercy Cherono of Kenya finishing third in 15:19.56.

Hills produced a beautiful tactical race in giving herself every chance to qualify for the final by staying with the leaders when her tired body would have no doubt been asking for a rest, following her heroics the day before. Pushing through the pain, Hills grew into the race and covered every break by maintaining her tempo and gradually gaining on each closest competitor.

The top 15 runners made it through to the final, with Hills ranked 13th on her heat time. Australian teammates Eloise Wellings and Genevieve LaCaze also made it through to the final.

Never has Australia had finalists in the Women’s 3000m Steeplechase and never has Australia had three finalists in the Women’s 5000m race but that’s now a verified ‘Fact Check.’

Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana is favourite to take the gold medal, having turned in a sizzling heat run of 15.04.35, over 13 seconds clear of countrywoman Senbere Teferi (15:17.43).

Ella Nelson

In a world class performance, Ella Nelson has finished a storming third in her 200 metre semi-final but unfortunately just missed out on qualifying for the final by the smallest of margins, one-hundredth of a second. Only the first two in each of the three semi-finals and the next two fastest overall progress to the final.

Nelson scorched a magnificent personal best of 22.50 in coming over the top of American, Jenna Prandini, in the last ten metres.

The 22-year-old of Sydney Uni Athletics Club showed great speed in the straight coming off the bend in what was only her second race in four months.

Nelson has shown she can mix it with the best and looks on the cusp of great things in the next few years if she continues to improve. Impressively, Nelson’s time was among the quickest ever run by any Australian woman over the half-lap distance.

Nelson’s phenomenal performance to finish 9th in the world in Rio is all the more special as her preparations were severely curtailed by a hamstring injury. A beaming Nelson was ecstatic with her run and achieving a personal best. Nelson beat her Great Britain training partner, Jodie Williams in her semi-final and both have been great support for each other racing in the same 200m heat as well.

At her debut Games, Nelson has made a bold statement she is an athlete on the rise and definitely belongs in the Olympic arena.

Will Ryan

Sydney Uni’s Will Ryan looks in serious contention for an Olympic Medal despite mixed placements in the final three preliminary races of the Men’s 470-class sailing.

Ryan and his partner, Matthew Belcher, finished Race 8 in 7th position, beating competition rivals, Croatia, who finished 8th. The Aussie duo made amends for their uncharacteristic performance by then going to finish in 1st place in Race 9, destroying Croatia who finished 6th. Race 10 presented problems as Ryan and Belcher struggled to cement a top spot, eventually finishing 7th.

Despite two disappointing results, Ryan and Belcher still look set to win a medal as they now stand 3rd overall, with Greece marginally in front, and Croatia retaining their mortgage on the top spot. The Australian sailors will have one more roll of the dice with the Medal race still to come.

Jaime Ryan

Jamie Ryan and Carrie Smith couldn’t seem to get the wind in their sails in the remaining three races of the Women’s 470-class sailing.

Race 8 saw the duo finish in 15th place, and in-form competitors, New Zealand, finished 1st. Things went from bad to worse when the pair couldn’t catch a break in less than satisfying conditions finishing 17th in Race 9, with New Zealand finishing 1st again. The final race of the preliminaries saw Ryan and Smith show signs of improvement with the girls finishing in 12th spot, and Great Britain demonstrated why they are ahead in the overall standings by finishing 1st.

As it stands, Ryan and Smith sit at 15th in the overall standings and will not medal, with Great Britain in 1st place.

Wednesday, August 17

Ella Nelson: Athletics

Wednesday, August 17: Women’s 200m sprint Semi Final, starting 11:00am AEST | 9th Overall (22.50, PB)

Thursday, August 18

William (Will) Ryan: Sailing                              

Thursday, August 18: Men’s 470, Medal Race, 3:05am AEST.

Isobel Bishop; Hannah Buckling; Keesja Gofers; Lea Yanitsas & Nicola Zagame: Women's Water Polo

Thursday, August 18: Australia v Brazil, 5-8th place classification, 12:00am AEST.

Medal tally

Australia is sitting at ninth place on the overall medal standings, with seven gold, eight silver and nine bronze.

  • Swimming - 3 gold, 4 silver, 3 bronze
  • Shooting - 1 gold
  • Rugby Sevens - 1 gold
  • Diving - 1 bronze 
  • Archery - 1 bronze 
  • Equestrian - 1 bronze
  • Rowing - 1 gold, 2 silver 
  • Cycling - 1 silver, 1 bronze
  • Athletics - 1 bronze
  • Canoe Slalom - 1 bronze
  • Sailing - 1 gold, 1 silver