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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The Olympics began in full with the first gold medal going to an American teenager by the fearsome name of Thrasher. There was plenty of rough riding on a punishing cycling course, a smooth opener for Kevin Durant and company, and a difficult loss for Venus Williams.
The American men’s basketball team romped past China 119-62 Saturday night behind Durant’s 25 points. Although it was a blowout, bettors in Las Vegas, where wagering on the Olympics is legal for the first time since 1998, were undoubtedly on edge until the final minutes.
Japan’s Kosuke Hagino won the men’s 400-meter individual medley in the marquee race in Saturday night’s swimming program, albeit a bit less flashy without two of the sport’s biggest stars. Michael Phelps, the world record holder and two-time Olympic champion, dropped the race for his fifth games and defending champion Ryan Lochte didn’t qualify.
Virginia Thrasher, a 19-year-old who once had her heart set on figure skating, captured the 10-meter air rifle Saturday. Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium won the grueling road race that left cyclists with a myriad of injuries.
Riders rolled off to the sound of crashing waves on Copacabana Beach on a steamy morning hours after Brazil’s high-energy opening ceremony featuring thumping funk, sultry samba and supermodel Gisele Bundchen sauntering to the tune of “The Girl From Ipanema.”
Showcasing Rio’s famed beaches and majestic mountains, the men’s road race began under clear, sunny skies buzzing with helicopters — some carrying TV cameras, others from the military to provide security.
The brutality of the course became evident over the cobblestone sectors that rattled one cyclist off his bike, cost another his chain and forced Tour de France champion Chris Froome to replace his broken bike.
Van Avermaet out-sprinted Jakob Fuglsang and Rafal Majka on the long run to the finish at sun-splashed Copacabana Beach after Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali and Colombia’s Sergio Henao crashed while trying to navigate a corner on the final harrowing descent of the 6-hour race.
Goalkeeper Hope Solo came up big as the United States fought off France 1-0 in a group stage match at Mineirao Stadium. Carli Lloyd scored the game’s only goal.
Solo became the first goalkeeper, male or female, to reach 200 appearances in international play. Despite the milestone, Solo was still peppered with jeers from the crowd, which was riled up about social media posts she made about the threat of the Zika virus.
Thousands of police and soldiers were patrolling the city amid concerns about safety.
On Saturday, there was a scare during the break at the eventing dressage at the Olympic Equestrian Center as a military-looking bullet pierced the roof of the tent and landed on the floor near startled reporters. The competition was not disrupted and nobody was hurt.
Brazilian military and police called it “an unfortunate incident,” one that came shortly after bomb-disposal experts blew up an unattended bag near the finish line of the men’s cycling race.
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