Skies and pools both darkened Wednesday as the sun-splashed Rio Games gave way to gray clouds and murky green waters.
The Rio de Janeiro Olympics were drenched in rain and continued questions about why the diving well and water polo pools look so much like neglected aquariums.
The third day of the men’s water polo tournament began in green-tinged water, though not nearly as dark as the neighboring diving well at the aquatics center. It was crystal blue the day before.
Water quality has been a major issue surrounding the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, but in the ocean and lagoons, not pools. Olympic organizers couldn’t explain the color change although Rio organizers spokesman Mario Andrada blamed a “proliferation of algae” while insisting the athletes weren’t at risk.
They were on the waters and slippery roadways, though.
Strong winds rattled palm trees along the coast and whipped up waves on the scenic lagoon where rowing was postponed for a full day for the second time this week. With winds too blustery, rowers packed up their oars for the day as cyclists hit slick roads on skinny time-trial bikes unsuited to harsh weather conditions.
Under dark skies, the cyclists faced lashing rain and wind on the time-trial course along Rio’s southern coast. The conditions might have cost Ellen van Dijk of the Netherlands a medal. She slid off the road and got tangled in weeds before finishing fourth.
American Kristin Armstrong won the race, conquering the brutal course to edge Russian Olga Zabelinskaya by 5.55 seconds.
Even after a grueling night at the pool, Michael Phelps cruised through the preliminaries of the 200-meter individual medley Wednesday afternoon. Swimming on five hours of sleep, he posted the third-fastest time behind teammate Ryan Lochte and Germany’s Philip Heintz.
Phelps is coming off a double gold-medal night at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium.
Fiji and New Zealand had been hoping to play for the gold medal in rugby’s return to the Olympics but will instead meet in the quarterfinals later Wednesday after a tumultuous group stage left playoff places hinging on the last group match between world series champion Fiji and the United States.
The Americans needed a win, a draw or a loss by fewer than five points against Fiji to reach the quarterfinals at the expense of New Zealand but missed out by one kick, losing 24-19.
Other highlights from Day 5 at the Rio Games:
EBNER ELIMINATED: Nate Ebner, the safety for the New England Patriots who took a break from training camp to fulfill his Olympic dream, sprinted from almost halfway to score a try in the right corner to make it 24-19, piling the pressure on Madison Hughes. But the U.S. captain and goal kicker missed the conversion from out wide, leaving the margin at five. So, Ebner will soon be donning pads and rejoining the Patriots, who halted practice to watch his games. Coach Bill Belichick even donned an Ebner No. 12 rugby jersey this week.
ROWING AT RISK: Twenty-two races, including the first two medal races, were postponed in the regatta but international rowing federation director Matt Smith said there’s still room on the schedule without having to resort to drastic measures — even if competition is also called off. The regatta also lost Sunday’s slate to foul weather a day after two rowers fell into the choppy seas and rowers struggled to keep the filthy out of their boats.
LIFE’S A BEACH: The American beach volleyball team of Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson has been eliminated from the Olympics on a tiebreaker. It’s the first U.S men’s team to fail to advance out of pool play since the 2004 Games in Athens. The pair would have advanced if they had given up seven fewer points — just one point per set over three matches at the Copacabana venue. The U.S. pair lost to Spain on Wednesday morning to fall to 1-2. When Qatar beat Austria later in the day, the Americans fell into a last-place tie in their pool.
SAILING AWAY : In the Olympic sailing regatta, the Greek boat capsized on polluted Guanabara Bay, the Brazilians had a breakdown and the Swiss crew of Matias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger won the first of Wednesday’s three races. This marked the first time men and women have been on the same crews in Olympic sailing. It’s also the fastest Olympic class, and gives spectators a thrill when crews fly a hull.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.