Olympic Daily News


Sports Network
Aug 15, 2008


Michael Phelps easily won his sixth gold medal of the Beijing Olympics
by beating Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh and U.S. teammate Ryan Lochte in
the 200-meter individual medley on Friday morning.

Then, he got back in the pool and qualified for a chance at No. 7.

Phelps pulled within two wins of breaking Mark Spitz’s 36-year-old
record for gold medals in one Olympics — a feat he will try to
accomplish this weekend — with another world record swim.

Already the winningest Olympian ever, Phelps secured his record 12th
career gold medal by lowering his world record mark in the 200 IM by
.57 seconds, touching with a time of 1 minute, 54.23 seconds.

Phelps, who went on to qualify for the 100-meter butterfly final
about a half- hour later, now has six world records in his six gold
medal swims at the National Aquatics Center.

His U.S. teammates had a big day, too.

Lochte beat fellow American Aaron Peirsol to win the 200-meter
backstroke event just 15 minutes before swimming against Phelps,
while Rebecca Soni picked up a third American gold in four Friday
finals by winning the women’s 200-meter breaststroke.

Natalie Coughlin also took bronze in the 100-meter freestyle, bringing
the medal haul for U.S. swimmers to six for the day and 26 for these

Cseh took silver behind Phelps for the third time in Beijing, but was
never a threat to catch him after the American made the 50-meter turn
more than a half-second under the world record pace.

Phelps was .67 seconds under the pace at 150 meters after what is
supposed to be his weakest stroke, the breaststroke. And then it was
just him versus his own world record.

"I just wanted to step on it in the first 50 (meters) a little bit
and try and get out to an early lead," said Phelps, whose strategy
was to build a cushion between himself and Lochte.

"I knew that was a hard double for Ryan. I knew in the first half if
I got a big enough lead I thought I could hang on, and that’s all I
wanted to do."

Cseh, after also taking second place in the 200 fly and 400 IM,
finished more than two seconds back at 1:56.52 for a new European

Lochte claimed his fourth medal in Beijing at 1:56.53, then was asked
if he wished Phelps wasn’t competing in his events.

"If he wasn’t in this sport and swimming I don’t think I’d be as
good," said Lochte. "He is up there and he makes me become better
and stronger in training. Without him I wouldn’t be standing here
today. I think I push him as well."

Phelps has now equaled his gold take from the 2004 Athens Olympics,
when he finished two away from breaking Spitz’s record from the 1972
Munich Games. Those six wins included the 200 IM.

Now the "Baltimore Bullet" has just one individual race remaining
in Beijing: the 100 fly on Saturday against world record holder and
teammate Ian Crocker, who specializes in the event.

Phelps — who will also be a part of the favored U.S. team in the
400-meter medley relay on Sunday — beat Crocker for the 100 fly gold
at the 2004 Athens Olympics and also beat him at the U.S. Olympic

He shook off the notion that winning his sixth gold medal was a relief,
citing how hard that final will be on Saturday.

"For me to be a player in that race, I have to be closer at the 50,"
said Phelps. "If I’m not, then it will be tough. I was over a body
length behind at the 50 in the prelims and came up a bit short,
so I have to be there."

He qualified with the second-fastest time in the 100 fly behind Milorad
Cavic of Serbia, turning in on after sitting sixth following the
initial 50 meters. Crocker tied for third-fastest among the qualifiers.

In a particularly bizarre example of how busy his schedule is here,
Phelps went from winning the 200 IM to standing on the podium for the
medal ceremony to taking pictures with the other medallists to swimming
in the first heat of the 100 fly in little more than 30 minutes.

"A hard morning," said Phelps.

He wasn’t the only busy American swimmer Friday morning — Lochte
joined him in swimming twice, with both of his races being finals.

Lochte set a world record while beating Peirsol in the 200 back just
15 minutes before swimming in the second final. His time lowered
the record he shared with Peirsol by .38 seconds to 1:53.94, earning
Lochte his second gold medal in Beijing.

Peirsol was the defending Olympic champion in the 100 and 200 back. But
after winning gold in the 100 already, he couldn’t fend off his
burgeoning teammate in the longer distance. He took the silver medal
.39 seconds behind Lochte at 1:54.33 — just .01 off their previous
world record.

"That’s the theme of the meet. You’ve got to break a world record to
win," said Peirsol. "I gave it my all, but I had nothing left. Ryan
handed me a great race and I have no regrets."

Russia’s Arkady Vyatchanin was first after each of the initial three
laps, but was caught and passed by Lochte and Peirsol in the final
50 meters. He claimed bronze at 1:54.93.

Soni smashed the world record in the women’s 200 breaststroke for
her first Olympic gold medal.

Already a silver medalist in the 100-meter distance, she lowered the
old mark by .32 seconds with a time of 2:20.22. Soni ran second until
catching and passing Australia’s Leisel Jones at the 150-meter mark.

"It just flowed," Soni said.

Jones, the former world record holder, finished nearly two seconds
back at 2:22.05. She also took silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics
behind American Amanda Beard.

Norway’s Sara Nordenstam claimed the bronze at 2:23.02.

Germany’s Britta Steffen beat world record holder Lisbeth Trickett
to win the women’s 100 free, while Coughlin claimed bronze for her
fifth medal of the Beijing Olympics.

Steffen lowered her own Olympic record by .26 seconds to 53.12 seconds,
winning by a fingernail over Trickett, who led at the 50-meter mark.

Trickett, a gold medal winner in the 100 fly, finished just .04
seconds behind at 53.16 seconds.

Coughlin touched at 53.39 for the bronze and an American record. She
won gold in the 100 backstroke, silver as part of the U.S. 400-meter
freestyle relay team and bronze medals in the 200-meter individual
medley and 800-meter freestyle relay.

In other semifinal heats Friday morning, Cesar Cielo Filho set an
Olympic record in the 50-meter freestyle with a sprint of 21.34
seconds. France’s Alain Bernard, the 100 free gold medalist, joined
world record holder Eamon Sullivan of Australia and American Ben
Wildman-Tobriner among the other qualifiers.

Also, U.S. teammates Elizabeth Beisel and Margaret Hoelzer qualified
for the final of the 200 back. Hoelzer set the world record at the
U.S. Swimming trials.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – U.S. swimmer Dara Torres, who
qualified for her fifth Olympics at the age of 41, posted the
third-fastest time in preliminaries for the 50-meter freestyle on
Friday night.

Torres, who won the first of four career gold medals at the 1984 Los
Angeles Olympics, touched in 24.58 seconds to qualify among the 16
semifinalists at the National Aquatics Center.

She was out-dueled in her own heat by 16-year-old Cate Campbell of
Australia, who finished as the top qualifier overall at 24.20 seconds
— just .07 seconds off the Olympic record.

Campbell was born on May 20, 1992, two months before Torres competed
in her third Olympics.

"She’s an incredible woman, amazing," said Campbell. "I can tell you
I don’t want to be competing when I’m 40."

Torres, who has already won a silver medal in Beijing as a member
of the U.S. 400-meter freestyle relay team, was the oldest American
swimmer to ever qualify for the Olympics when she made it through
U.S. trials last month.

She became the oldest U.S. swimming gold medalist in history when
she won two relay golds at the 2000 Sydney Games as a 33-year-old,
and she is the only swimmer to ever compete in five Olympics.

Which is why, after retiring before the 1996 and 2004 Olympics and
coming back to swim faster in her 40s than she did in her 30s, Torres
became the focus of scrutiny.

She was one of a dozen U.S. athletes to volunteer for a stricter drug
testing program that requires extra blood and urine samples. Still,
Torres has been asked questions about doping since she’s been in

"I’ve answered this question at least a thousand times," she said at
a press conference last week, "and I think it’s getting a little old."

Sick in the morning but feeling better by race time, Torres said it
was "fun" having a 16-year-old swimming in the lane next to her. She
didn’t seem phased by all the attention given her age.

"That was one of the easiest 50s I’ve ever done," she said.

Marleen Veldhuis of the Netherlands qualified second-fastest behind
Campbell, touching the wall .18 seconds off her pace at 24.38
seconds. World record holder Lisbeth Trickett of Australia qualified
fourth at 24.67 seconds.

American Kara Lynn Joyce also qualified for the semifinals, sneaking
in with the 14th-fastest time of 25.01 seconds. She was .14 seconds
away from not qualifying.

On a night when Michael Phelps got some much-deserved down time after
claiming his sixth gold medal in the morning — resting up for his
showdown against Ian Crocker in the 100-meter butterfly Saturday
morning — Crocker was among the U.S. teammates who qualified him
for his eighth race.

Crocker, Matt Grevers, Mark Gangloff and Garrett Weber-Gale — a
so-called "B" team — qualified with the fastest time in the 400-meter
relay, which Phelps will swim on Sunday for his final race here.

The American foursome completed the eight laps in 3 minutes, 32.75

Australia finished just .01 seconds behind to set an Oceanian record
and qualify in the second spot, while Japan and Russia set Asian and
European records in the third and fourth spots.

In the women’s 400-meter relay preliminaries, the Australians finished
1.2 seconds ahead of Great Britain to qualify first. The U.S. team
of Margaret Hoelzer, Megan Jendrick, Elaine Breeden and Kara Lynn
Joyce qualified third.

The men’s 1,500-meter freestyle preliminaries also were held Friday
night and world record holder Grant Hackett qualified first in the
grueling race with a time of 14 minutes, 38.92 seconds.

American Larsen Jensen grabbed the eighth and final spot in the finals,
while teammate Peter Vanderkaay missed out.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – Nastia Liukin has won the gold medal
in the women’s all-around gymnastics competition at the Olympics,
while U.S. teammate Shawn Johnson rose above China’s Yang Yilin to
capture the silver.

Liukin, who comes from a family of medal-winning gymnasts, finished
with a score of 63.325 to win the gold. Johnson, who won the 2007
World Championships, ended at 62.725.

Yang took the bronze with a total of 62.65.

The floor exercise was the final rotation for the three. Yilin scored a
15.0, and Liukin was next with a near-perfect effort at 15.525. Johnson
went last, attaining the same mark, which was tied for first on floor
among all competitors.

The 1-2 finish comes on the heels of the USA winning silver in the
team competition on Wednesday, coming behind China. It also came
between two close friends on the gymnastics circuit. Johnson beat
Liukin in the U.S. championships and Olympic trials earlier this year.

"We both supported each other 100 percent, and we just wanted to go
out there and give it our all and have fun because this is the Games,"
said Liukin of her friendship with Johnson. "There is nothing bigger
or greater than this."

In addition to sharing the highest score on floor, the two Americans
posted the highest value in two other events. Liukin’s 16.125 on the
balance beam was tops on that apparatus, while Johnson’s 15.875 on
vault was the best in that event.

Liukin’s father, Valeri, won four gymnastics medals for the Soviets at
the 1988 Olympics, including two gold, and her mother, Anna Kotchneva,
was a 1987 rhythmic gymnastics world champion. Valeri’s take included
a silver in the all-around at the Seoul Games.

"I’m still chasing him for that medal count, but I have three more
finals to beat him," Nastia said. "A few months ago I made a board
of pictures and other things that inspired me. My mom hung one of his
medals on the board, and it gave me the extra motivation and it made
a difference being empowered to see it every day for those few months."

The Chinese had gone 3-for-3 in gold medals at these Games until
Thursday. They won the men’s team and Yang Wei captured the men’s
all-around gold on Thursday. But a day later, Liukin broke that streak
and when the competition ended she hugged her father knowing that
the family Olympic championship history in gymnastics would continue.

"I couldn’t have been here without my parents," said Liukin. "Both
of my parents have been a big influence on my life. My dad is in the
gym with me every day. He’s the reason I am an Olympic champion. My
mom is on my side, providing emotional support. It’s an equal effort."

This was only the third time a nation has had a 1-2 finish in the
event. Others were in 1960 (Larissa Latynina gold, Sofia Muratova
silver for the Soviet Union) and 2000 (Simona Amanar gold, Maria
Olaru silver for Romania). It’s also the first time the U.S. has had
two women’s gymnasts on the individual all-around medal podium and
the first time the Americans have won consecutive golds in the event
after Carly Patterson captured the top spot four years ago.

It’s the third individual all-round gold medal won by the United
States in women’s gymnastics. Mary Lou Retton won in 1984.

Incredibly, Liukin was in 10th place after the first apparatus, scoring
a 15.075 on vault. She moved into the lead after the third rotation.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – American Christian Cantwell won
silver in the men’s shot put and Shalane Flanagan picked up bronze
in the women’s 10,000 meters for the United States as track and field
events began Friday at the Beijing Olympics.

American sprinter Tyson Gay also qualified for Saturday’s semifinals
of the 100 meters after running races in both the day and evening
sessions. The finals of the 100 will also take place on Saturday.

Flanagan, the American record-holder at the 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000
distances, finished third in the final event of the night, coming
in behind winner Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia and Turkey’s Elvan

Dibaba set an Olympic record with a time of 29 minutes, 54.66 seconds
and Abeylegesse was next, finishing just 1.68 seconds behind. Flanagan
lowered her American record with a time of 30:22.22, smashing her
previous mark by over 12 seconds. Linet Chepkwemoi Masai of Kenya
finished fourth, 4.28 seconds slower than Flanagan.

"I was so focused during the race. I wanted to make sure I got enough
laps," said Flanagan. "I had no idea I was third. If I knew, I might
freak out."

Tomasz Majewski of Poland won the gold in the shot put, turning in a
personal- best throw of 21.51 meters. Cantwell’s silver-medal toss of
21.09 meters came on his final attempt, pulling him ahead of Belarus’
Andrei Mikhnevich, who took the bronze with a throw of 21.05 meters.

"Any time you sneak in on your last throw, and squeak out a medal,
it’s special," said Cantwell. "I didn’t win, but I moved from sixth
to second and that’s something."

U.S. thrower Adam Nelson, the silver medalist in the shot put at the
last two Olympics, had a dreadful final round, finishing dead last
after fouling on his first three attempts. Nelson had the second-best
throw in the morning qualifying round. Fellow American Reese Hoffa
finished seventh with a best throw of 20.53 meters.

"I had some big throws and big fouls. Unfortunately they didn’t
count," said Nelson. "There is not much good to take out of this. I
was just throwing down the left sector line and I don’t really do
that often. It’s inexcusable."

Gay, the defending world champion at both the 100- and 200-meter
distances, ran the opening round in 10.22 seconds to win his morning
heat and placed second in his night race, finishing with a time of
10.09 seconds

He was tied for the ninth-fastest time overall in the second round.

"I felt good and relaxed," said Gay. "I just wanted to make it

The 26-year-old Gay said last week that he was "fully recovered"
from a hamstring injury suffered last month at the U.S. Track and
Field trials and that appeared to be the case on Friday. Gay had
injured his left leg in the quarterfinals of the 200 at the trials,
keeping him from qualifying for that event in Beijing.

The American sprinter is expected to have some serious competition
for gold in the 100 at the Summer Games from Jamaicans Asafa Powell
and Usain Bolt. Powell held the world record in the event for three
years before Bolt broke the mark with a blazing 9.72 run to defeat Gay
in New York City on May 31. Bolt ran the fastest time Friday, winning
his second-round heat in 9.92 seconds. Powell was the fourth-fastest
runner in the night session, coming in at 10.02 seconds.

Americans Darvis Patton and Walter Dix also qualified for the
semifinals, which will decide who gets to race for gold in Saturday
evening’s final round.

Hyleas Fountain of the U.S. is leading the women’s heptathlon
after four events, as she has amassed a total of 4060 points after
finishing first in three of the segments. Fountain was the best out
of 42 competitors in the 100 hurdles, high jump, and the 200 meters,
and 19th in the shot put.

Ukraine’s Nataliia Dobrynska is second to Fountain with 3996
points. The heptathlon will conclude with the remaining three events
Saturday, as the women battle in the long jump, javelin and 800 meters.

The U.S. placed three runners in the semifinals of the men’s 400m
hurdles. Jamaica’s Markino Buckley had the fastest time with a run of
48.65 seconds and Angelo Taylor of the U.S. was just two-hundreths of
a second slower. Fellow Americans Bershawn Jackson and Kerron Clement
came in ninth and 11th place, respectively.

Qualifying in the men’s 1,500 meters began Friday and Rashid Ramzi
of Bahrain turned in the best time with a run of 3 minutes, 32.89
seconds. Leonel Manzano and Lopez Lomong of the United States both
made it to Sunday’s semifinals.

Lomong, the former Sudanese refugee turned American citizen, was the
flag- bearer for the U.S. at the opening ceremonies, but barely made
it to the next round, qualifying with the 18th of 19 spots after a
run of 3:36.70

Americans Anna Willard and Jennifer Barringer moved to the final round
of the women’s 3,000m steeplechase, which will take place Sunday
at the Bird’s Nest. Russia’s Gulnara Galkina-Samitova was tops in
qualifying with a time of 9:15.17. Willard and Barringer turned in
times of 9:28.52 and 9:29.20, respectively.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – Four games and four Olympic routs.

Tina Thompson scored 17 points to lead a balanced attack as the
United States women’s basketball team pulled away in the second half
to smash Spain, 93-55, on Friday.

Lisa Leslie contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Candace Parker
scored 13 and Diana Taurasi 12 for the Americans, who moved to 4-0 in
Group B play and have already made it to the medal round quarterfinals.

Sylvia Fowles tallied 10 points for the U.S., which stretched its
Olympic winning streak to 29 games. The U.S. women, gunning for a
fourth straight gold medal, haven’t failed to reach the podium for a
medal since the sport was first contested at the Olympics in Montreal
in 1976.

Incredibly, the 38-point victory was the lowest margin thus far for
Anne Donovan’s team at the Beijing Games. The U.S. struggled in the
first half and finished the night with 19 turnovers, its most in
these Olympics.

"We’re definitely not a cocky team," said Thompson. "We play really
hard and our goal here is to win a gold medal. That’s the only reason
why we’re here. We want to do that. We want to end up in the gold medal
game repeating for that gold medal at the end of this tournament."

Amaya Valdemoro had 17 points, while Nuria Martinez and Anna Montanana
each added 10 for Spain, which was outscored 54-21 in the second half.

The Americans will finish preliminary round play Sunday versus New

Thompson had nine of her points during a big third quarter for the
U.S., which surged to a 19-4 lead early, only to watch Spain rally
to as close as three in the final minute of the half.

Parker’s bucket extended the U.S. to a 39-34 lead at the break and the
Americans made it 11 straight points as the game progressed in the
third. Thompson had five points during the crucial push, including
an inside basket that moved the cushion to 48-34 with 7:11 left in
the third. Thompson was also sent to the foul line for three shots
after a hard foul from Montanana.

Spain never got the deficit under double digits after that, and the
Americans widened the mark to 59-39 following a Tamika Catchings

It was 62-44 going into the fourth, and a 13-0 run early in the final
period made it a rout.

"I think tonight was a very tough challenge for us, offensively and
defensively," said USA player Seimone Augustus. "I think we got our
focus. We played against a very tough team in Spain. This is lessons
learned and hopefully we take from this and move on to the next game."

In another Group B game Friday, Hana Machova had 23 points to pace
the Czech Republic to a 90-59 win over New Zealand, and Miao Lijie
poured in 25 points in China’s 69-48 win over Mali.

Lauren Jackson had 30 points in Australia’s 96-73 blowout of Latvia
in Group A play, while Russia earned a 74-64 triumph over Brazil. The
Aussies and Russians, each 4-0, will have a showdown on Sunday for
the top spot in their group.

In the final game of the night, Belarus came back from an 11-point
first- quarter deficit to stifle Korea, 63-53, in Group A play.


Shanghai, China (Sports Network) – Natasha Kai scored in overtime to
help the United States edge Canada, 2-1, on Friday in the quarterfinals
of the women’s Olympic soccer tournament at rainy Shanghai Stadium.

Angela Hucles also scored for the U.S., which weathered a delay
of nearly two hours and a pesky Canadian club to advance to the
semifinals. The United States will play Japan in the semifinals Monday.

After Hucles gave the United States an early lead, Canada’s Christine
Sinclair tied the match in less than 10 minutes when play resumed.

Kai, who entered as a substitute late in the match, eventually helped
the top- ranked United States advance when she headed home a cross
from Shannon Boxx in the 101st minute.

Earlier Friday, Brazil defeated Norway 2-1 to win its quarterfinal
in Tianjin. Brazil will play Germany in a rematch of the 2007 World
Cup final in Monday’s semifinals.

Later Friday, Germany squeezed into the semifinals with a 2-0 overtime
win over Sweden in Shenyang and Japan beat China 2-0 in Qinhuangdao.

Hucles helped the United States get off to another quick start –
it scored just 41 seconds into Tuesday’s 4-0 win over New Zealand –
with her second goal in as many games in the 12th minute.

Amy Rodriguez helped set up Hucles’ goal with a cross from the right
to Heather O’Reilly, who was a few steps past the far post. O’Reilly
headed the ball down and back toward the right post and Hucles directed
the ball into the net from a few feet out.

Hucles had a great chance to put the U.S. up two goals a few minutes
later, but Canadian defender Emily Zurrer made a sliding tackle to
knock the ball off her feet deep inside the penalty area.

In addition to falling behind early, Canada goalie Erin McLeod injured
her knee on the Americans’ early goal and eventually left in the 19th
minute. Veteran Karina LeBlanc came into to replace McLeod.

Two minutes later, Canada caught a break when the match was stopped
because of lightning during a heavy downpour. The game resumed after
a delay of 1 hour, 39 minutes and the rejuvenated Canadians quickly
tied the match.

The United States’ Heather Mitts lost the ball deep inside her own
end and the ball found Canada’s best striker, Sinclair.

Sinclair drilled a shot from just outside the area – just before
U.S. defender could get to the ball – and found the upper-right corner
past goalie Hope Solo in the 30th minute.

Hucles continued to be the best option for the U.S. as it looked for
its second goal and she just missed a chance in the 34th minute. Hucles
was in one-on-one with LeBlanc but fired well wide of the left post.

Rodriguez set up Hucles’ next scoring chance in the 71st minute when
she found her with a long pass behind Canada’s defense. Hucles had
another chance against just LeBlanc, but the back-up made a nice save
from close range.

Solo made her best save for the U.S. in the 78th minute on Sinclair’s
shot from well outside the area. She dove to her left and just barely
got a piece of the ball with her left hand to knock it away.

The U.S. had two more scoring chances in regulation, but Carli Lloyd
shot wide from 12 yards in the 86th minute and Rodriguez was denied
in the 94th on a nice diving save by LeBlanc.

The United States didn’t waste much time in the first of two 15-minute
overtime periods, pressuring Canada before Kai scored the game winner.

Boxx delivered a cross from outside the top-left corner of the box
perfectly to Kai, who was running in on the opposite side. Kai met
the ball five yards from the goal and headed it into the left side
past a helpless LeBlanc.

LeBlanc, who played well, made a save on Kai a few minutes later to
keep Canada in the match, but the Canadians couldn’t take advantage
of Solo’s only mistake in the closing minutes and the U.S. held on.

Solo failed to secure a cross and spilled the ball in front of her
own goal but a teammate cleared it out of danger. Otherwise, Canada
failed to threaten in overtime and was eliminated with the loss.

In Tianjin, Daniela opened the scoring late in the opening half and
Marta, the reigning two-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year,
scored her second goal of the Olympics in the 57th minute.

Daniela’s goal in the 44th minute was on a beautiful dipping shot
from 25 yards out that sailed just over Norway goalie Erika Skarbo
and under the crossbar.

Marta took advantage of one of her few chances 12 minutes into the
second half when she chipped the ball over Skarbo.

Siri Nordby scored Norway’s lone goal in the 83rd minute on a penalty
kick. It was the only time Norway threatened Brazil goalie Barbara,
who was starting in place of injured Andreia.

Solveig Gulbrandsen wasted Norway’s last scoring chance when she
headed high in the 90th minute. Norway, which defeated the United
States 2-0 in its first game of the Olympics, was eliminated.

In Shenyang, Kerstin Garefrekes scored in the 104th minute and Simone
Laudehr sealed the win with a goal in the 115th as Germany defeated
Sweden. Germany has just two goals in regulation in the tournament,
winning its two previous games in the group stage 1-0.

Germany and Brazil also met in the first game of the group stage,
but the teams played to a 0-0 tie. Germany, which defeated Brazil
2-0 in the World Cup final, didn’t allow a goal in the 2007 Cup and
hasn’t allowed a goal in the Olympics.

In Qinhuangdao, Homare Sawa and Yuki Nagasato scored to lift Japan over
China and set up a rematch with the U.S. The United States edged Japan,
1-0, when the teams met in the group stage. China was eliminated.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – American Matt Emmons barely missed
out on his second straight gold medal in the men’s 50m prone rifle
competition at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall Friday morning.

Emmons entered the 10-shot final round trailing Artur Ayvazian of
the Ukraine by two points. Emmons was able to cut the gap in half,
but Ayvazian consistently scored between 10.0 and 10.8 to hold off
the American’s challenge.

Ayvazian won the gold by scoring 702.7 to Emmons’ 701.7. The bronze
medal was won by Warren Potent of Australia, whose 105.5 was the high
score of the final round, giving him a 700.5 that boosted him over
Norway’s Vebjoern Berg.

"It was my lucky day, I simply got lucky," said Ayvazian. "I knew
yesterday I was going for it and that no one was going to take it
away from me."

The 27-year-old Emmons is the husband of Czech shooter Katerina Emmons,
who has won two medals at these Games, a gold in the 10m air rifle
and a silver in the 50-meter 3-positions event.

Matt Emmons will also compete in the 50-meter 3-positions on Sunday.

"The past few days have been a roller coaster ride, but not a bad one
because I like roller coasters," said Emmons. "It’s been challenging
to keep my head on straight for my own events."

Potent went into the competition as the world No.1, returning to the
sport in 1997 after a six-year absence. He was trying for his first
Olympic medal after finishing 42nd in Athens.

American Vincent Hancock led the qualification in the men’s
skeet competition, while Leonid Ekimov was ahead after the first
qualification round in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol. Keith Sanderson
of the U.S. was third in that qualifier. The finals for both events
are Saturday.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – Chilean Fernando Gonzalez saved three
consecutive match points and beat an angry American James Blake in a
marathon three-set semifinal tennis showdown at the Olympics on Friday.

Gonzalez, the 12th seed, rallied for a 4-6, 7-5, 11-9 victory, with
the final set lasting 1 hour, 20 minutes. All told, it approached
three hours before Gonzalez closed it out on his fifth match point,
finally ending the encounter when Blake hit a return into the net.

Second-seeded Spaniard Rafael Nadal, due to become the No.1 ranked
player in the world next week, then topped third-seeded Serbian Novak
Djokovic 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in the other semifinal.

Gonzalez moved to 6-3 all-time against Blake and guaranteed himself
a second consecutive Olympic medal after winning bronze four years
ago. He will become the first men’s tennis player to win back-to-back
Olympic medals since Charles Winslow, who won gold in 1912 and then
bronze in 1920.

The loss by Blake came one night after he upset top-seeded Roger
Federer, beating the Super Swiss for the first time in nine career
matchups. The American will have to settle for a try at a bronze medal.

Blake was ahead 40-0 in the 12th game of the final set, but gave away
three straight match points and Gonzalez forced the extra play before
breaking serve in the 19th game of the third set.

The American was then ahead 9-8 and on the first point of the ensuing
game and hit a return with the ball clipping Gonzalez’s racquet before
going by the Chilean. Instead, chair umpire Carlos Bernardes ruled
Blake’s backhand return went long, and Gonzalez went on to win the
final three games.

"Playing in the Olympics, in what’s supposed to be gentleman’s sport,
that’s a time to call it on yourself," said Blake. "Fernando looked
me square in the eye and didn’t call it."

Blake continued his rant against Gonzalez.

"I’ve tried to play this game for as long as I can," said Blake. "I
make mistakes, but I try to do it with integrity, so my parents
would be proud of the way I played. If that happened the other way,
I never would have finished the match because my father would have
pulled me off the court if I had acted that way.

"He’s too good of a player to do something like that and to act like
that. They’s why it’s disappointing, because he is a great player. I
can’t take anything away from the fact he won the match."

Gonzalez didn’t readily admit the ball hit his racquet.

"Nobody asked me anything," he said. "We were on the court like 2
1/2 hours. I was really tired. I didn’t feel anything."

Nadal booked his spot in the final on his second match point when
Djokovic sent an overhand smash barely wide.

Looking ahead, Nadal is 3-3 all-time against Gonzalez, but he’s won
the last two encounters, both in 2007 in Masters Series events. Nadal
is also trying to give Spain its first gold medal in Olympic tennis

The final women’s singles quarterfinal was contested Friday with
sixth-seeded Russian Dinara Safina defeating second seed Jelena
Jankovic of Serbia, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.

The victory assured Russia of at least two medals in women’s
singles. Safina won her 14th consecutive match and will take on Li
Na of China in the semifinals Saturday. In the other semi. Elena
Dementiva battles Vera Zvonareva in an all-Russian affair.

It was the start of a very long night for Safina. She teamed with
Svetlana Kuznetsova in doubles, but the top seeds lost an epic
doubles match to the Chinese tandem of Yan Zi and Zheng Jie, 6-3, 5-7,
10-8. The match ended after 3:30 a.m. The Russians blew a 5-2 lead
in the final set, and all told the match lasted nearly three hours.

Federer is actually still alive for a gold medal in Beijing. He teamed
with Stanislas Wawrinka to beat the doubles team of Mahesh Bhupathi
and Leander Paes of India, 6-2, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. Then,
Federer and Wawrinka got into the gold medal match by knocking off
top seeded Bob and Mike Bryan, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.

In the gold medal match, Federer and Wawrinka will take on the duo
of Simon Aspelin and Thomas Johansson of Sweden. The Bryans will play
Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra of France for bronze.

In women’s doubles play, Serena and Venus Williams won twice to advance
to the semifinals. They first topped Japan’s Ai Sugiyama and Ayumi
Morita, 7-5, 6-2. and then pulled out a 6-4, 6-0 win over Zvonareva
and Elena Vesnina. Both Williams sisters were eliminated from singles
play on Thursday, but they’ll continue playing in the doubles semis
on Saturday versus Alona and Kateryna Bondarenko of the Ukraine.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – There were two more positive drug
tests at the Olympics on Friday, as North Korean pistol shooter Kim
Jong Su and Vietnamese gymnast Thi Ngan Thuong Do being the guilty

Kim tested positive for propanolol, a betablocker that limits
trembling. His silver medal was taken away from the 50m pistol. Because
of the doping test, China’s Tan Zongliang was elevated to the silver
and Russia’s Vladimir Isakov moved up to grab the bronze. Kim’s bronze
in the 10-meter air pistol was also taken away and was given to the
fourth place finisher, American Jason Turner.

Do, who was in last place in the women’s floor exercise qualifying,
tested positive for the diuretic furosemide.

Friday’s announcement brings the total to three athletes who have
tested positive at these Games. The International Olympic Committee
released a report Friday saying to date there have been 2,203 tests,
and that included 483 blood tests. Out of those 2,203, 1,250 have
been conducted before the Olympics.

"The cheats are not way ahead," said Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of
the IOC medical commission. "We are on the heels of those who try to
cheat. That has been the case over the last five or six years."


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – France picked up a fencing gold
medal Friday at the Beijing Olympics, defeating Poland in the final
round of the men’s team epee competition.

The French team, which consists of brothers Fabrice and Jerome
Jeannet as well as Ulrich Robeiri, posted a convincing 45-29 win
over the Polish squad of Tomasz Motyka, Robert Andrzejuk and Radoslaw

Fabrice Jeannet earned his second medal of the Games, having already
won a silver in the individual epee.

"This is the last time I will be competing with my brother (Fabrice)
so it is very special," said Jerome Jeannet. "I am happy, superbly,
superbly happy."

Italy picked up the bronze medal with a 45-35 win over the host
Chinese. The Italians were led by Matteo Tagliariol, who won gold in
the individual epee in Beijing.

Hungary was considered to be one of the gold medal favorites
coming into this event, but were defeated by China, 45-43, in the
quarterfinals. The Hungarians finished in fifth place.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – China’s Tong Wen and Satoshi Ishii
of Japan earned gold medals Friday in the final day of judo competition
at the Beijing Olympics.

Medals were awarded in the heavyweight classification for the men
(+100kg) and women (+78kg).

Tong won the women’s event, defeating Japan’s Maki Tsukada, the gold
medal winner four years ago in Athens. Slovenia’s Lucija Polavder
and Idalys Ortiz of Cuba won their respective bronze medal matches
and will share the award.

"I had a belief that I must win this match," said Tong. "I am not
only representing myself, I have a responsibility to fight for my
country. Japan’s judo is the most fantastic, but I was fighting for
China’s glory."

Ishii defeated Abdullo Tangriev of Uzbekistan in the men’s gold medal
match. This was the first Olympic Games for the 21-year-old Ishii,
who has never even competed in the world championships.

Oscar Brayson of Cuba and France’s Teddy Riner will take home bronze
medals in the men’s heavyweight.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – American featherweight Raynell
Williams was eliminated from the boxing competition at the Beijing
Olympics with Friday’s loss to France’s Khedafi Djelkhir.

Djelkhir posted a 9-7 decision over the American in the round of 16
bout at Workers’ Gymnasium. The Frenchman built up a 4-1 lead after
two rounds and held on for the win despite Williams posting a 6-5
advantage over the final two rounds.

Williams finished fifth in the world championships last year in
Chicago, while Djelkhir came in 33rd.

"It’s a disappointment," said Williams. "I wanted to bring home the
gold medal, but I guess not."

Djelkhir moves on to the quarterfinals where he will face Mexico’s
Arturo Reyes Santos, who pounded Alaa Shili of Algeria, 14-2,
on Friday.

There was an upset in the bantamweight division Friday, as world
champion Sergey Vodopyanov of Russia was defeated in the round of 16
by India’s Akhil Kumar. The score was tied at 9-9 after four rounds
and the five judges then decided on Kumar as the winner.

"Today is India’s Independence Day. I have given a gift to the nation
in the shape of this victory," said Kumar.

In lightweight action on Friday, Russia’s Alexey Tischenko, the
featherweight gold medalist in Athens, notched an 11-3 win over
Australia’s Anthony Little to advance to the quarterfinals.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – Cao Lei and Lu Yong gave China
another two gold medals in weightlifting Friday at the Olympics.

Cao established three Olympic records — in the snatch (128kg),
clean & jerk (154kg) and total (282kg) for the competition — to win
the women’s 75kg class, while Lu captured the men’s 85kg division to
give the host country its eighth weightlifting gold medal.

The 24-year-old Cao has a superb international record with gold medals
from World Championships in 2006 and ’07.

"For the gold medal, I dedicate it first of all to my motherland
and all the people of my country," said Cao. "But most importantly,
I want to dedicate this medal to my dear mother who has passed away
not long ago."

Alla Vazhehina of Kazakhstan was second with a total of 266kg, while
Nadezda Evstyukhina of Russia earned bronze with 264kg.

In the men’s event, Lu and Andrei Rybakou of Belarus lifted a total of
394kg, but Lu got the gold thanks to a lower body weight. The 394kg
total is a world record, but under weightlifting rules it’s now held
by Rybakou, since he set the mark first. That didn’t matter to Lu
because he got the gold medal.

Tigran Varban Martirosyan of Armenia won the bronze by lifting a
total of 380kg. Vladimir Sedov also had 380kg, but lost the bronze
due to a higher body weight.

American Kendrick Farris was eighth with a lift of 362kg.

It was a stirring end to the competition. Rybakou first broke the
world record. Lu then had his first attempt in the clean & jerk to tie
the Belarus native cleared by the judges, but only a minute later the
mark was reversed by the jury. Under pressure, Lu performed a clean
lift with the 214kg to win the gold medal.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – The traditionally dominant Chinese
won badminton gold in women’s doubles Friday at the Beijing Olympics.

Du Jing and Yu Yang made it four consecutive Olympic gold medals
for China in the event with a 21-15, 21-13 victory over Korea’s Lee
Hyojung and Lee Kyungwon in the final.

The Lees held an advantage heading into the match after beating Du
and Yu in a three-set thriller at the All-England Championship in
March. But the Chinese had some history on their side as well.

A Chinese team has won every gold medal in women’s badminton doubles
since the 1996 Atlanta Olympics — where, ironically, these two
countries last met in a final.

China’s Ge Fei and Gu Jun won that match.

The Chinese also won the bronze medal Friday when Wei Yili and Zhang
Yawen defeated Miyuki Maeda and Satoko Suetsuna of Japan 21-17, 21-10.

Earlier in the day, the final was set for the men’s doubles competition
when Markis Kido and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia and China’s Cai
Yun and Fu Haifeng won their semifinal matches.

Both sides of the badminton singles draws will have all-Chinese finals.

On the women’s side top-seeded Xie Xingfang and teammate Zhang Ning
won their semifinals Friday. On the men’s side, Lin Dan and Cai Yun
were winners.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – Ukraine’s Viktor Ruban won the gold
medal in men’s archery at the Olympics on Friday, beating Korean Park
Kyung-Mo in the final.

The 27-year-old Ruban, who finished in 13th place in 2004, won by a
scant 113-112 count.

"I deserve the medal because I’ve trained for 14 years," said Ruban. "I
give thanks to the support of my nation, my people and my family. The
good environment and weather at the venue really helped me."

Bair Badenov of Russia won the bronze with a 115-110 victory over
Juan Rene Serrano of Mexico.

U.S. archer Vic Wunderle closed out his third Olympic Games experience
with a 113-106 loss at the hands of the top-seeded Serrano in the

"It’s an honor and privilege to participate in the Olympics," said
Wunderle. "I’ve been to the Olympics three straight times and every
time I have finished in the top eight. I know I was the only person
from both Athens and Sydney to do that."


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – The Slovakian team of twin brothers
Pavol and Peter Hochschorner won a gold medal in the canoe double
competition Friday at the Beijing Olympics, earning their third
straight Olympic gold in the event.

Slovakia also earned a gold medal in the women’s kayak single, as
Elena Kaliska dominated the field on the final day of action in the
slalom category of canoe/kayak. Events in the flatwater division will
take place next week.

"It’s a happy time for my country," said Kaliska.

The Hochschorners finished with a combined time of 190.82 seconds after
their semifinal and final runs. The men’s semifinals were completed on
Thursday before the events were postponed due to inclement weather. The
Slovakians were second after Thursday’s round, but would have been
first if not for a two- second penalty.

The Czech duo of Jaroslav Volf and Ondrej Stepanek took silver,
finishing 2.07 seconds behind the Hochschorners. Russian’s Mikhail
Kuznetsov and Dmitry Larionov earned bronze with a time of 197.37.

Kaliska, who also won this event in Athens, completed her semifinal and
final runs with a total time of 192.64 seconds. Australia’s Jacqueline
Lawrence took the silver, but finished 14.30 seconds behind Kaliska.

Violetta Oblinger Peters of Austria earned the bronze with a time
of 214.77.

Heather Corrie of the United States placed eighth out of 10 finalists
with a time of 270.88.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – Great Britain won the first gold
medal awarded in track cycling at the Beijing Olympics, clinching
gold in the men’s team sprint on Friday.

The trio of Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny and Jamie Staff won with a combined
time of 43.128 seconds. Against France in the final, each Briton won
his lap around Laoshan Velodrome.

That left the three-time defending world champion French with a silver
medal at 43.651 seconds. Germany, the 2004 gold medalist, earned
bronze by beating Australia in the race for third and fourth place.

The Germans finished at 44.014 seconds, ahead of Australia’s 44.022.

The United States trio of Michael Blatchford, Adam Duvendeck and
Giddeon Massie was the eighth and final team to make it through
qualifying to the first round, where the Americans lost against
Great Britain.

In men’s and women’s individual pursuit qualifying Friday, Americans
Taylor Phinney and Sarah Hammer both moved on with seventh- and
fifth-place finishes, respectively.

Britons did well in that discipline, as well, with Bradley Wiggins
leading the men’s qualifying and Wendy Houvenaghel topping the women’s.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – Michel Enriquez lined the go-ahead
two-run single in the 11th inning, and Cuba beat the United States,
5-4, in a hotly- contested baseball game at the Olympics.

Jayson Nix belted a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning
to force extra innings, but was hit in the left eye by a fouled bunt
attempt in the bottom of the 11th inning and was sent to a hospital
with an eye injury.

Terry Tiffee went 2-4 with a run and an RBI to lead the U.S. offense,
but the Americans fell to 1-2 with a game upcoming against Canada
on Saturday.

Alfredo Despaigne hit a solo homer for Cuba, which has lost only
three games in Olympic baseball history.

The U.S. gave the Cubans a run for their money though on Friday,
but both teams had to adjust to a new rule for international
play. Beginning in the 11th inning both teams start with runners at
first and second base, something that didn’t sit well with Tiffee.

"The whole extra inning thing is bogus," said Tiffee.

Cuba used a sacrifice bunt to put both of its runners into scoring
position before Enriquez came through against Jeff Stevens.

Then in the bottom half, Nix left the field with a bloody eye after
fouling off a ball. He was replaced by Brian Barden, who sacrificed
the runners over before Tiffee lofted a sacrifice fly. But Matt Brown
fouled out behind the plate to end the game.

"The only thing is that I’m not confident with how the game ended,"
said USA manager Davey Johnson. "I lost my second baseman when the
pitcher (Pedro Luis Lazo) threw the ball at his head. I don’t see any
place for that in baseball. I respect the way Cuba plays baseball,
but I don’t like losing players."

The outcome aside, several players weren’t happy with the extra-inning

"It takes all the work out of baseball because all you need is a
base hit and you’ve got a good shot to win," said USA shortstop Jason
Donald. "Normally you get a guy on first and battle to get home. It
was strange running out to second from the dugout. I’ve never done
that in my life and probably never will again."

As for Nix, he’s out the remainder of the Games. He sustained a
laceration to the upper left eyebrow. The cut was repaired and he
was treated with eyedrops.

The extra-inning rule also applied to China’s 8-7 upset of Taiwan
in 12 innings. The Chinese scored five times in their last at-bat to
shot their opponent.

The visitors tied the game in the ninth inning with a ground-rule
double to left-center field and then scored four times in the
12th. However, China loaded the bases in the bottom half before
Wang Chao singled in a run. A walk with the bases loaded forced in
another run. Hou Fenglian then singled, and when right fielder Chang
Chien-Ming misplayed the ball, Sun Lingfeng charged toward home plate
to score the winning run for China.

Also Friday, Japan beat the Netherlands, 6-0, and Korea edged Canada,


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – Jessica Mendoza had two of an
Olympic softball-record four home runs hit by the United States in
a 7-0 win Friday over Japan.

Crystl Bustos and Natasha Watley also homered for the Americans,
who had nine hits in just 25 at bats. Bustos’ solo shot in the fourth
inning gave the U.S. its 7-0 lead.

The game was stopped after five innings by the mercy rule.

Monica Abbott pitched a one-hit shutout following back-to-back
U.S. no-hitters thrown by teammates Jennie Finch and Cat Osterman.

Abbott had started a game against Canada that was postponed because of
rain on Thursday and picked up following the Japan game on Friday. She
didn’t allow a hit through three innings of the game against Canada,
though she was called for a couple of illegal pitches.

Canada took a 1-0 lead before the postponement, helped by an error, but
the U.S. bounced back for an 8-1 victory by scoring four runs apiece
in the sixth and seventh innings after the game resumed on Friday.

Japan’s Ayumi Karino led off the first inning of the opening game with
a single, stopping the no-hit streak for the U.S. But Abbott set down
the next 15 batters in order, striking out five without issuing a walk.

"There is a quote," said Abbott, "’Your best defense is a good

Osterman finished the last four innings against Canada, giving up
just one hit while striking out eight batters. Andrea Duran drove in
two runs to lead four Americans who drove in runs.

The U.S. women moved to 4-0 following their two wins Friday. Winners
of their last 18 straight Olympic games dating back to the 2000 Sydney
Olympics, outscored their opponents 29-1 in Beijing.

"The most important influence was the psychological aspect," Japan
shortstop Rei Nishiyama said of playing the Americans. "We couldn’t
deal with today’s competition."

Also on Friday, Canada edged China 1-0 to improve to 3-1 in
competition, Australia topped Chinese Taipei to even its record to
2-2 and Venezuela rolled to an 8-0 victory over the Netherlands for
its first win in four games.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – Both U.S. teams in women’s beach
volleyball made it to the quarterfinals on Friday at the Olympics,
a day that started with Kerri Walsh celebrating her 30th birthday in
a big way.

Walsh and teammate Misty May-Treanor continued their Olympic winning
streak by defeating Liesbet van Breedam and Liesbeth Mouha of Belgium,
24-22, 21-10 as round of 16 action began Friday morning at Chaoyang
Park Beach Volleyball Ground.

The defending gold medalists have never lost a match at the
Olympics. They advanced to the quarterfinals, which begin on Sunday. In
addition to being undefeated, May-Treanor and Walsh have yet to drop
a set in Beijing.

"It’s a great way to celebrate my birthday," said Walsh. "I felt
really good, but this is just the first half. The second half will
be after the gold medal match."

The other U.S. team, consisting of Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs,
won their round of 16 match Friday against Tamara Larrea and Dalixia
Fernandez of Cuba, 21-15, 21-13, to make it to the quarterfinals.

Next up for Branagh/Youngs in the quarterfinals will be the Chinese
duo of Xue Chen and Zhang Xi. The team of Walsh/May-Treanor will
battle Brazil’s Ana Paula Conelly and Larissa Franca.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – The U.S. women’s volleyball team
squeaked out a five-set victory over China on Friday night, qualifying
for the quarterfinals at the Beijing Olympics.

Playing for head coach Jenny Lang Ping, the former star player and
head coach for China, the Americans rallied back from a 2-1 deficit
in sets to earn a 23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20, 15-11 win.

It moved the U.S. to 3-2 record in Pool A play and a guaranteed spot
in the quarterfinals.

"We are absolutely thrilled," said U.S. setter Lindsey Berg. "We knew
it was going to be tough playing China at their home. All we wanted
to do was fight."

China, meanwhile, dropped another tough match after suffering a 3-2
setback to Cuba on Wednesday.

Both teams entered the match with 2-1 records. China’s loss came in
front of president Hu Jintao.

"Although we lost the match, every player played their best," said
Liu Yanan. "It’s important we find our problems in the preliminaries
and find ways to solve them."


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – The United States women’s water
polo team picked up a win in group play Friday, defeating Russia,
12-7, at the Beijing Olympics.

Natalie Golda scored three goals to lead the Americans, who were up
5-0 after the first quarter and never trailed. Alison Gregorka and
Brenda Villa each added two goals to help the U.S. finish with a
2-0-1 record, which was good enough to win Group A.

Overall, the Americans scored their 12 goals on just 23 shots for
a solid 52 percent clip. Russia’s seven goals came on 33 attempts
(21 percent).

"This was an easy game," said U.S. team member Brittany Hayes. "We
treat every game seriously. It is a great opportunity for us to play
another game."

Italy, which defeated China, 10-9, on Friday, finished tied with
the U.S. atop the group with five points, but the Americans were
awarded first place as a result of a better goal differential than
the Italians. That means the U.S. gets a bye to the semifinals, where
it will await the winner of Sunday’s quarterfinal match between China
and Australia.

Italy will face the Netherlands in Sunday’s other quarterfinal matchup
for the right to face Hungary, who received a bye as the winner of
Group B.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – The U.S. men’s quadruple sculls
team qualified for the final round in rowing action Friday at the
Beijing Olympics.

Friday’s semifinal races were originally scheduled for Thursday,
but were postponed due to rain and lightning.

The American team of Matthew Hughes, Sam Stitt, Jamie Schroeder and
Scott Gault completed the race in 5 minutes, 52.81 seconds, finishing
second behind Italy, which finished in 5:51.20. Poland won the first
semifinal heat with a time of 5:51.29.

Australia, Germany, and France also qualified teams for Sunday’s final.

In the lightweight women’s double sculls, teams from the Netherlands,
Finland, Germany, Canada, China and Greece moved on to Sunday’s
final. The American duo of Jen Goldsack and Renee Hykel barely missed
a spot in the final round, as they finished fourth in their heat,
just 0.16 seconds behind Greece. Goldsack and Hykel will race in the
B final, which is used for placing teams in spots seven through 12.

The Americans also failed to qualify for the A final in the lightweight
men’s four, as they finished last in their heat. Denmark, France, Great
Britain, Poland, Canada and the Netherlands moved on to the final race.

The U.S. didn’t have a team in the lightweight men’s double sculls
semifinals, which featured heat wins by British and Greek teams. Italy,
Cuba, Denmark and China also placed teams in Sunday’s final.


Hong Kong, China (Sports Network) – The United States is proving
to be a force again in equestrian, as the group of Bezzie Madden,
Will Simpson, Laura Kraut and McLain Ward finished first after the
show jumping qualifier at the Olympics.

The U.S. was the only nation with three double clear rounds. Ward
was in the ring first with mare Sapphire. The 13-year-old Belgian
Warmblood powered around the course in her usual fashion jumping one
of 13 double clear rounds.

"My horse made it look easy," said Ward. "She’s such a pro. She has
had really bad heat rash – she has really sensitive skin so I could
use no leg on her because she wasn’t 100 percent comfortable. I have
a great team behind me to help her out and she amazes me with what
a great competitor she is."

Kraut, with her horse, Cedric, a 10-year-old Dutch gelding, also had
a solid performance. Simpson’s horse, Carlsson vom Dach, had a clear
round. Madden rounded out the group with another reliable performance
aboard Authentic.

Switzerland is second in the team standings, followed by Brazil
and Canada.

The show jumpers return to the ring on Sunday evening for the first
leg of the team competition. They will jump in reverse order by team
based on the standings of the top three riders from each team in
Friday’s competition.

Dressage returns Saturday night for the first round of the individual
portion of the competition.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – Set to retire, she says, after these
Beijing Olympics, China’s Guo Jingjing finished as the top qualifier
in the women’s 3- meter springboard preliminaries Friday.

Guo finished the prelim with 373.90 points to lead 18 divers into
the semifinals, which will take place at the National Aquatics Center
on Saturday.

The reigning Olympic gold medalist and four-time reigning world
champion, the 26-year-old Guo was expected to win this competition
in what she says will be her last.

Before winning the gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, she claimed
silver at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Behind Guo in the standings were a pair of familiar faces: Julia
Pakhalina of Russia, the 2004 bronze medalist, finished 15.75 points
behind Guo in second place with 358.15; while reigning silver medalist
Wu Minxia of China stood fourth with 349.45.

The 22-year-old Wu is expected to fill Guo’s shoes if her teammate
does in fact retire.

Canada’s Blythe Hartley posted 350.60 points to finish the
preliminary in third place, while American Christina Loukas was
eighth. U.S. teammate Nancilea Foster qualified 11th.

China has won all four diving medals awarded thus far. Only the
United States has ever swept the diving competition in the Olympics,
with the Americans doing it five times between 1928-52 when there
were fewer events.

The finals will be on Sunday.


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – Defending gold medalist Australia
moved closer to the semifinals with a 3-1 win over Pakistan in men’s
field hockey on Friday at the Olympics.

Pakistan picked up three yellow card suspensions during a
hotly-contested match.

Elsewhere, Spain squeezed past China by a 2-1 score, the Netherlands
doubled up Canada 4-2, New Zealand upended Belarus 4-2, Korea and
Germany played to a 3-3 tie and Great Britain shut out South Africa


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – The No.1-seeded Chinese team of
Zhang Yining, Guo Yue and Wang Nan moved into the final of women’s
table tennis with a three-set victory over the third-seeded team from
Hong Kong.

Next up for China will be a match against Singapore, which took out
Korea in a titanic five-set battle that lasted nearly 4 1/2 hours.

Zhang, the reigning Olympic singles champion, beat Tie Yana, while
Guo Yue topped Lin Ling.

By advancing to the final, Singapore is guaranteed a medal, its first
at the Olympics since a silver for weightlifting in 1960.

The U.S. has advanced its furthest ever in the competition and will
take on South Korea in the bronze medal round. Hong Kong will meet


Beijing, China (Sports Network) – Kazakhstan got the win it needed
against China to stay in the hunt for a berth in the quarterfinals
of the women’s handball tournament at the Beijing Olympics

Kazakhstan defeated the host Chinese 29-26 after losing to all three
strong European teams — Norway, France and Romania.

Also on Friday, Brazil squeezed out a 33-32 win over Korea with a
goal in the 60th minute; Sweden defeated Germany 27-26 with a tally
in the 59th minute; Romania upended Angola 28-23; Norway rolled to
a 34-24 win over France; and Russia beat Hungary 33-24.

The preliminaries continue Sunday, followed by the quarterfinals
beginning on Tuesday.