Sports Headlines from the Summer Olympics
By The Source
Aug 15, 2004
Michael Phelps' magic number is now seven. That's how many gold medals the 19- year-old American needs to break Mark Spitz's 1972 record of seven, this after Phelps won the men's 400 meter individual medley Saturday by breaking his own world record. Phelps finished the medley in a time of 4:08.26, besting his previous record of 4:08.41 from the Olympic Trials. He also broke American Tom Dolan's Olympic record of 4:11.76, set four years ago in Sydney, and now holds the five fastest times ever in the event. American teammate Erik Vendt repeated his silver medal performance at the Sydney Olympics with a time of 4:11.81, while Laszlo Cseh of Hungary won the bronze with a time of 4:12.15.
In other action, Australian Ian Thorpe defended his Olympic championship in the 400m freestyle with a time of 3:43.10, finishing just ahead of teammate Grant Hackett, who'd beaten him in Saturday's heats.
Klete Keller and Kaitlin Sandeno gave the Americans two more individual medals Sunday. Keller finished behind Thorpe and Hackett to win his second straight Olympic bronze in the 400m free, while Sandeno took silver in the women's 400m individual medley.
Sandeno and gold medalist Yana Klochkova of the Ukraine were close over the final 100 meters, but Klochkova used a strong freestyle stroke to edge out her American opponent by just .12 seconds with a time of 4:34.83. Argentine Georgina Bardach finished in 4:37.51 to win the bronze.
The Australian women set a new world record in the 4x100m freestyle, winning gold with a time of 3:35.94 -- just .06 seconds faster than the previous record set by Germany in 2002. The U.S. team of Kara Lynn Joyce, Natalie Coughlin, Amanda Weir and Jenny Thompson won silver in 3:36.39, with the Netherlands finishing in third place for the bronze.
Phelps was back in the pool Sunday morning for the heats of the 200-meter freestyle and he advanced to the semifinals by finishing with the fifth-best time. Thorpe led the way in qualifying, followed by Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands, Emiliano Brembilla of Italy and Keller.
Phelps will also be in the heats of the 400-meter freestyle relay with the final taking place later at night, as Phelps can go for a second gold.
Also in the pool will be finals of the women's 100-meter butterfly, the men's 100-meter breaststroke and the women's 400-meter freestyle. Thompson has 11 Olympic medals to her credit, including eight gold. However, she has never finished first in Olympic competition outside of a relay. She'll get that chance in the butterfly Sunday night, but will have to fend off Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands, who won the event in Sydney in world record time, and that still stands today.
A pair of Americans will be in the men's 100-meter breaststroke final in Brendan Hansen and Mark Gangloff. Hansen, in his first Olympics, is the overwhelming favorite to win the race. He already holds the world record at 59.30 seconds, set last month.
The U.S. women started their quest for a third straight gold medal at the Olympics with a blistering 99-47 victory over New Zealand on Saturday. The Americans ran their Olympic winning streak to 18 games and they did it using a suffocating defense, holding New Zealand to 21 percent shooting from the field. Swin Cash led a balanced American attack with 19 points, while Sheryl Swoopes added 14 and Lisa Leslie netted 13. Diana Taurasi scored 12 points and Tina Thompson chipped in 11 for the United States, which outrebounded New Zealand, 58-28. The Americans committed 27 turnovers, including nine by Leslie, in some sloppy play. Another sore spot was the fouls, as the Americans had 26. The next game for the Americans is Monday versus the Czech Republic.
The focus for the United States will be back on the basketball court Sunday as head coach Larry Brown leads his young squad into its first game against Puerto Rico. Even though the U.S. is 109-2 all-time at the Olympics and has 12 gold medals in 14 tries, the international competition seems to be catching up with the Americans. The U.S. lost to Italy in an exhibition game right before the Olympics and the Americans were nearly beaten again by Germany, a team not even in the Summer Games. The dominance by the U.S. has slowed considerably, especially following a sixth-place finish at the last World Championships. Among the teams who beat the U.S. in 2002 are current world champs, Serbia and Montenegro and Argentina. They head a list of other teams that includes European champion Lithuania, runner-up Spain, upstart China with NBA star center Yao Ming, the Italians and Greeks. The other much-anticipated matchup on Sunday will be Serbia and Montenegro going against Argentina.
Mia Hamm scored the game-winner on a penalty kick as the United States survived a sluggish first half to beat Brazil, 2-0 at Kaftanzoglio Stadium on Saturday. With the win, the United States took control of group G and appear to be headed to the single elimination phase of the tournament. The United States will take on Australia on Tuesday, while Brazil matches up with Greece in the final game of the group phase.
Leadoff hitter Natasha Watley had four hits, including a game-ending two-run double in the fifth inning that gave the United States a 7-0 victory over Italy in a game shortened by the mercy rule. Jennie Finch (1-0) started the game for the U.S. and picked up her first Olympic win, striking out five batters in three innings. Lori Harrigan tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings after that, and Catherine Osterman got her out of a jam in the fifth. The U.S. women -- winners of the only two Olympic gold medals ever -- next face Australia, at 10:00 a.m. (et) on Sunday. In the first women's softball game Saturday, the Australians earned a 4-2 victory over Japan behind 6 1/3 scoreless innings from pitcher Tanya Harding, who relieved starter Brooke Wilkins in the first inning after Wilkins was charged with Japan's only two runs. Australia beat the U.S. women in round robin play at the Sydney Games in 2000, but ended up losing to them in the preliminary final on the way to a second straight bronze medal.
It took a mad dash, but Italian Paolo Bettini won his country's first gold medal of these Olympics after a thrilling finish in the men's road race Saturday. Sergio Paulinho led during most of the final lap before Bettini, checking behind him for other cyclists, put together a frantic sprint near the end to pull ahead of the leader. Bettini finished the 139 4/10-mile race in 5:41.44, with Paulinho one second behind. Belgium's Axel Merckx took bronze, finishing 12 seconds behind the leader. The first American to finish was Tyler Hamilton in 18th place.
Venus Williams began her bid to repeat as gold medalist at the Olympics as she breezed past Hungary's Melinda Czink, 6-1, 6-2 in just 57 minutes. Top seed Justine Henin-Hardenne will play competitively for the first time in over two months after dealing with a blood virus. American Andy Roddick is also in action Sunday as he faces Brazil's Flavio Saretta.
Japan won the first two judo gold medals at the Athens Olympics on Saturday. Ryoko Tani took gold in the women's 48kg category, and Tadahiro Nomura won the men's 60kg for Japan's first two medals of these Summer Olympics. Nomura became the first person in history to win three consecutive judo Olympic gold medals. Finishing in second place for the women's 48kg silver was Frederique Jossinet of France, while Georgian Nestor Khergiani took silver for the men. Two bronze medals were awarded in both the women's and men's categories. German Julia Matijass and Feng Gao of China shared the women's, while Khashbaatar Tsagaanbaatar of Mongolia and Min Ho Choi of Korea earned the men's.
China got off to a quick start at the 2004 Olympics, winning the first two gold medals in the shooting competition on Saturday. Du Li won the first gold medal when she captured the women's 10-meter air rifle competition in the morning. Later in the day, Yifu Wang won the men's 10-meter air pistol event for his sixth Olympic shooting medal. The 22-year-old Li set an Olympic record with 502 points to edge Russian Lioubov Galkina by a half point. Katerina Kurkova of the Czech Republic earned the bronze medal with a final score of 501.1. The 43- year-old Wang has won the 10-meter air pistol twice as he first did it at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. He set a final Olympic record with a score of 690, eclipsing the old mark of 688.9 set by Franck Dumoulin at the 2000 Games in Sydney. Russian Mikhail Nestruev won the silver medal with a score of 689.8 points, while Russian Vladimir Isakov earned the bronze with a score of 684.3.
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