On the first day of Olympic track and field competition, two event finals played out before a hearty crowd in Olympic Stadium—the men's shot put and the women's 10,000-meter run.
In the men's shot put, defending champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland retained his Olympic crown with a launch of 71 feet, 10 inches. German youngster, David Storl claimed silver with a 71'8" throw.
The Americans, who had hoped for a USA sweep, settled for bronze as Reese Hoffa came through with a throw just short of 70'. Defending silver medalist Christian Cantwell, who just recently had a monster 73-footer, finished a disappointing fourth.
In the women's 10,000 it was a predictable, yet thrilling finish for the East Africans as Tirunesh Dibaba led her Ethiopian teammates to a 1-4-5 finish in 30 minutes, 20.75 seconds.
Sally Kipyego (30:26.37) and Vivian Cheruiyot (30:30.44) of Kenya claimed the silver and bronze, respectively.
Joanne Pavey and Julia Bleasdale of Great Britain kept the home crowd fully engaged, finishing in seventh and eighth, also under the 31-minute barrier.
Dibaba's easy gait and lethal kick left many believing she can come back and double later in the 5,000.
On the occasion of the initial day of Olympic track and field, we would also like to introduce a new feature for readers of Bleacher Report: a cumulative tracking of team scores—just like a "real" track meet.
The idea was sparked by a recent article from sports marketing expert, Rich Perelman
Why scoring matters
Team scoring—often overlooked at major international meets such as the Olympics and World Championships—is much different and more revealing than a medals count. It gives a better picture of overall team strength and depth.
It also enhances the relevance of those who finish out of the medals. For example, in an 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system, the fourth through eighth-place finishers account for 15 of 36 available points for each event.
Following that reasoning, it would be possible for two or more non-medalists to score more points for their team than a single gold medalist on another team (see the example in the men's shot put above).
This could be a huge factor in a closely fought scoring battle, as we may well see—especially in the women's competition.
And of course, having a running tally as the meet progresses makes the competition much more meaningful and compelling. Expect the interest and intensity to increase with each passing day.
With that, let's take a look at the scores after the first day of track and field competition, keeping in mind that only two events were completed today, and in certain cases, some teams had multiple scorers. For that reason, we may not have a full field of eight scoring nations yet
Men's Team Women's Team Overall
USA - 11 Ethiopia - 17 Ethiopia - 17
Poland - 8 Kenya - 13 Kenya - 13
Germany - 7 Bahrain - 3 USA - 11
Canada - 4 Great Britain - 3 Poland - 8
Argentina - 3 Germany - 7
Serbia - 2 Canada - 4
Belarus - 1 Argentina - 3
Bahrain - 3
Great Britain - 3
Serbia - 2
History tells us that in international track and field, the Russians will eventually begin to climb in the scoring lists and challenge for supremacy. Jamaica, Great Britain and Germany will be strong as well.
The Ethiopians and Kenyans—who already have a fierce cross-border rivalry—will, by virtue of their immense depth and talent in the distance races, be there at the end too.
China, who has enjoyed a plethora of success so far, may take a bit of a hit in track and field.
Though today's results in the men's shot put were probably a letdown for Americans, USA is off to a great start.
Who will be the surprise nation who comes out of nowhere to make a statement? It will be interesting to see how events unfold.
On Saturday, the much-awaited men's 100-meters qualifying begins. We'll have finals in the men's 20-kilometer walk, men's long jump, men's 10,000 and the finish of the women's heptathlon to add to our scoring lists.
Be sure to look for our daily Olympic track and field scoreboard again tomorrow. We'll have the cumulative scores for the men's and women's teams and an overall score (for you consummate "team" advocates) complete with a brief recap of the day's final results, analysis and a preview of the next day's activity.
Enjoy the Games!
Rojofact: Though it is not generally publicized, the governing body of international track and field (IAAF) actually does track the scores of athletes and their teams at the major global championships for the purpose of placement at future international competitions.
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