By Mike Richman
The Summer Olympic Games in London debuted to much excitement Saturday following Friday’s spectacular opening ceremony.
The first gold medal went to China’s Yi Siling in the women’s 10-meter air rifle competition. Sylwia Bogacka of Poland took silver and Yu Dan of China claimed the bronze.
In a major surprise, American superstar swimmer Michael Phelps qualified for the 400-meter individual medley final later Saturday by only eight-tenths of a second. He trailed Hungarian Laszlo Cseh for most of his heat before out-touching him at the finish.
Phelps’ American rival, Ryan Lochte, swam the third-fastest time of the heats.
Phelps has won 16 Olympic medals and needs three to break the all-time record of 18 held by former Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina.
In another stunning development, host Britain upset 2008 Olympic champion China in a qualifying round to take an early lead in men’s gymnastics.
Also, an Albanian weightlifter, Hysen Pulaku, became the first athlete ejected from the London Olympics after testing positive for steroids.
Mark Adams of the International Olympic Committee commented on the ejection.
“On the doping, of course, it is always a sad day when a cheating athlete is caught. I hope there will be no more, but the message we get out of this is that we will catch you. There are going to be 5,000 tests during this games and all the medalists will be tested so no one can think they will get away and that’s a very good, clear message to send. It’s disappointing.”
Earlier Saturday, police cleared part of central London’s Hyde Park after a suspicious package was found near a display sponsored by the Russian government. They later reopened the site, saying the situation had been resolved and there were no safety concerns.
Also Saturday, police said they arrested more than 130 cyclists who took part in a protest near the Olympic Stadium during Friday’s opening ceremony.
Authorities said the protesters ignored warnings not to enter the Olympic route.
More than 10,000 athletes in 26 sports are competing in the London Oympics, which run through August 12.