LONDON(AFP) – Record-breaker Michael Phelps was targeting a 20th Olympic medal on Thursday as the Games’ badminton match-fixing scandal prompted disgraced Chinese star Yu Yang to announce her shock retirement.
Phelps faces a dogfight in the 200m individual medley where US team-mate Ryan Lochte starts favourite to win his second individual gold of the Games.
But Phelps wants to win at least one individual title in London.
The 27-year-old finished second to Lochte when they met in the semi-finals on Wednesday, and Lochte has the mental advantage of his crushing defeat of Phelps in Sunday’s 400m individual medley final.
But the pressure is now off Phelps since he overtook the previous all-time record 18-medal haul of Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina with two medals on Tuesday, including the relay gold which clinched the Olympic milestone.
There was more disappointment in the pool for struggling Australian 100m freestyle world champion James Magnussen, whose reputation took another hit Thursday when he was only 10th fastest in the 50m heats.
Magnussen admitted he was struggling for motivation after his shattering loss to American Nathan Adrian in Wednesday’s 100m final by just one-hundredth of a second.
“The the last thing I wanted to do this morning was get up and swim again,” said Magnussen.
Meanwhile, Yu Yang, one of the eight players disqualified from the Olympics for throwing a badminton match announced she is quitting the sport, saying her dreams had been “heartlessly shattered”.
Yu, who won a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and her partner Wang Xiaoli were disqualified by the Badminton World Federation on Wednesday for “not using one’s best efforts to win a match”.
“This is my last time competing. Goodbye Badminton World Federation, goodbye my beloved badminton,” Yu Yang said on her Weibo, or microblog.
“You have heartlessly shattered our dreams.”
Eighteen gold medals were up for grabs on Thursday with the first three of the day decided in the rowing at Eton Dorney.
New Zealand world champions Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan won the men’s double sculls, South Africa took gold in the lightweight men’s four while the United States retained their women’s eight title.
Japan’s Satoshi Shimizu was reinstated into the boxing competition after winning an appeal over his controversial defeat by Magomed Abdulhamidov.
Azerbaijan’s Abdulhamidov was awarded a 22-17 decision in Wednesday’s bantamweight bout, but the result was changed to a third round stoppage win for Shimizu.
The appeal was made after second seed Abdulhamidov slumped to the canvas five times in the last round.
After Britain finally won its first two golds of the Games on Tuesday, its highly successful track cycling squad will hit the futuristic Velodrome where a packed 6,000 crowd will roar them on.
The men’s and women’s team sprint finals will be contested on the opening day of the six-day competition and Britain are among the favourites.
In the gymnastics arena, Gabby Douglas of the United States looks a contender for the women’s all-around title after Japan’s Kohei Uchimura won the men’s gold on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the US Dream Team will expect to book their place in the next round of the basketball tournament when they face Nigeria.
Only Spain and their LA Lakers centre Pau Gasol look capable of stopping the collection of NBA superstars.