* Cyclist Vinokourov triumphs in road race
* S. Korean freestyle champion disqualified, then reinstated
* China takes first gold of Games in women's shooting
By Mark Trevelyan
LONDON, July 28 Kazakhstan's Alexandre
Vinokourov sprinted to victory in the men's cycling road race on
Saturday, crushing British hopes of gold on the first full day
of competition at the London Olympic Games.
Vinokourov surged past Colombia's Rigoberto Uran on the
final stretch near Buckingham Palace in central London after a
star-studded British team had failed in a desperate attempt to
bridge a gap of nearly a minute behind the leading pack and set
up a win for world champion Mark Cavendish.
In the pool, 2008 Olympic champion Park Tae-hwan of South
Korea was disqualified for a false start in the 400 metres
freestyle, but reinstated to the final after an appeal.
U.S. star Michael Phelps just squeezed into the final of the
400 individual medley with a lunge on the last stroke of his
heat, and was due to square off in Saturday evening's final with
compatriot Ryan Lochte in one of the most keenly anticipated
rivalries of the Games.
China's Yi Siling became the first gold medallist of the
Games when she won the 10-metre air rifle shooting - despite
confessing to reporters: "For the first round and the last round
I was very nervous and didn't know what I was doing."
On a good opening day for Asian nations, South Korea's Jin
Jong-oh won the men's 10-metre air pistol shooting.
After Friday night's opening ceremony, where Britain laid on
an exuberant and sometimes eccentric extravaganza for the world,
local hopes were running high that world road racing champion
Cavendish could win the host nation's first gold of the Games.
But despite controlling much of the race, the home team,
including Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, failed to rein
in a 32-man group on the way back to the centre of the city
after nine ascents of Box Hill in rural Surrey.
The victor, a tearful Vinokourov, was suspended for two
years in 2007 for blood doping. He announced he was quitting
professional cycling after crashing out of the Tour de France
last year, but could not resist the urge to get back on the
Norway's Alexander Kristoff took bronze, and Britain's
Cavendish finished 29th, 40 seconds behind the winner after the
gruelling 250-km (156-mile) slog.
More than 10,000 athletes from 204 countries will compete in
26 sports over 17 days of competition in the only city to have
staged the modern Summer Games three times.
Albanian weightlifter Hysen Pulaku became the first to be
ejected from the Games after testing positive for an anabolic
"Of course it is always a sad day when a cheating athlete is
caught," said IOC spokesman Mark Adams. "I hope there will not
The evening highlight promised to be in the pool, where
Phelps defends his 400 metres individual medley title against
Lochte, the reigning world champion and favourite.
Phelps has 16 Olympic medals, 14 of them gold, and is
bidding to become the most prolific medallist of all time by
overhauling the record of 18 held by Soviet gymnast Larisa
If he wins on Saturday, he will become the first man to
capture three consecutive Olympic swimming titles in the same
But he was just millimetres away from making a shock early
exit on the opening morning. A desperate final stretch was
enough to edge out Hungary's Laszlo Cseh by 0.07 seconds and
give Phelps the eighth and last spot in the
"I didn't expect those guys to go that fast in the heats,"
"I think the only thing that matters is getting a spot. You
can't get the gold medal from the morning."
Lochte, who has exuded confidence this week, was third
fastest overall, after Japan's Kosuke Hagino set the quickest
"It didn't feel so good, but that was my first race, and my
first race is always the worst one," he said.
Competition got under way after a dizzying opening ceremony
on Friday night that celebrated Britain's history and its
humour, lurching from the Industrial Revolution to the Beatles.
It extended into the early hours and wowed the crowd of
60,000 in the stadium and a probable billion television viewers
around the globe.
"A gigantic spectacle. What a show!" raved German tabloid
(Additional reporting by Julien Pretot, Kate Holton, Julian
Linden, Patrick Johnston; editing by Ed Osmond and Ossian Shine)