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ATHENS 2004

Sport-by-sport capsules

August 08, 2004|Peter Yoon; Tommy Hine; Michael Dobie; Skip Myslenski; Marlen Garcia; Gary Blockus; George Diaz; Diane Pucin; Jim Sarni

Beach Volleyball

Where: Olympic Beach Volleyball Center, Faliro Coastal Zone Olympic Complex.

When: Aug. 14-25; women's final, Aug. 24; men's final, Aug. 25.

Top U.S. performers: Men--Dain Blanton-Jeff Nygaard, Stein Metzger-Dax Holdren; Women--Misty May-Kerri Walsh, Holly McPeak-Elaine Youngs.

U.S. chances: Both women's teams are medal contenders. May and Walsh are the top-ranked team in the world and are gold-medal favorites. McPeak and Youngs are ranked No. 4 in the world and have a good chance at a medal. As for the men, Blanton and Nygaard are ranked No. 7 in the world. Metzger and Holdren are No. 11.

Men's outlook: Neither U.S. team enters the Olympics with much momentum, but Blanton has experience. He teamed with Eric Fonoimoana and won gold in 2000 even though they were ranked No. 9 in the world entering the Olympics.

Women's outlook: May and Walsh won a record 15 consecutive tournaments between July 2003 and June '04. McPeak and Youngs have finished among the top three in their last 11 tournaments, a string that includes five victories.

Little-known fact: This is the first year the sport will be played under rally-scoring rules, meaning the team receiving serve can score and games are played to 21 instead of 12.

You'll remember: May and Walsh have already begun to make an impact in the mainstream with television commercials, talk show appearances and magazine covers. Should they win, they'll become even more well known.

Peter Yoon, The Times

*

Archery

Where: Panathinaiko Stadium.

When: Aug. 18-21; finals -- women's individual, Aug. 18; men's individual, Aug. 19; women's team, Aug. 2; men's team, Aug. 21, 3:45 p.m.

Top U.S. performers: Butch Johnson, Vic Wunderle, Janet Dykman.

U.S. chances: U.S. men are well-seasoned at the elite level, winning team medals in three of the last four Olympics. U.S. women have won only one medal since 1976 -- a team bronze at the '88 Games.

MEN'S OUTLOOK

Individual: Italy's Michele Frangilli has won a major individual title three straight years in a row -- 2001 world indoor title, the 2002 world field title and the 2003 world outdoor title. Reigning Olympic champion Simon Fairweather of Australia faces tough odds as no archer has successfully defended an individual Olympic title.

Team: South Korea comes to Athens as the reigning Olympic and world team champions. Park Kyung Mo and Jang Yong-Ho were both members of Korea's championship team four years ago in Sydney, and teammate Im Dong-Hyun won the Olympic test event in Athens last August.

WOMEN'S OUTLOOK

Individual: Host nations have won at least one gold medal at the last six Olympics, a record unrivaled by any of the 27 other sports. Three of those countries -- Spain, Australia and the former Soviet Union -- have not won an archery gold medal at any Games other than their own. All eyes in Athens will be on Evangelia Psarra, Greece's best medal hope. It won't be easy for her. South Korea's Yun Mi-Jin is only the second archer in history to hold all four major titles at once.

Team: South Korea's women archers have won every Olympic gold medal since 1980, a record that stands at nine medals and counting. Four years ago, Koreans won the team gold and all three individual medals, clear evidence of their dynasty.

Little-known fact: The archery competition will be staged in a narrow, marble stadium where the first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896. The current arena is built on top of the ancient stadium dating from 329 B.C.

You'll remember: Korean men's and women's teams have combined to win 21 Olympic medals, eight more than the second-place U.S. The Koreans are disciplined, experienced and very deep in talent. "It's tough to beat someone who trains full time," Johnson said.

-- Tommy Hine, Hartford Courant

*

Baseball

Where: Olympic Baseball Centre, Helliniko Olympic Complex.

When: Aug. 15-25; final, Aug. 25

Top U.S. performers: The Greeks (Greece's team is stocked with Americans of Greek ancestry).

U.S. chances: None, it failed to qualify.

Outlook: With the defending champion U.S. unable to qualify for Athens, 1992 and 1996 champion Cuba once again is the favorite for the gold medal. Two-time medalist Japan (bronze, silver) also is a factor despite the stroke suffered in March by Manager Shigeo Nagashima.

Little-known fact: Greek Manager Dimitris Goussios recently threatened to quit in protest of the inclusion of only two players from Greece on his roster (Greece's baseball league is only five years old); the rest of the players are Americans and Canadians of Greek heritage.

You'll remember: Cuban pitcher Norge Luis Vera, who has been compared favorably to fellow countrymen and current major league pitchers Orlando Hernandez and Jose Contreras. Vera, a 6-3 righty, throws a variety of pitches at different speeds and arm angles and had a 1.23 ERA in Sydney.

-- Michael Dobie, Newsday

*

Badminton

Where: Goudi Olympic Hall, Goudi Olympic Complex.

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