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OLYMPICS / ATHENS 2004 | Up Next

Phelps' Role Takes Spotlight

August 15, 2004|Lisa Dillman; Helene Elliott; Bill Dwyre

Here, in capsule form, are the events that will be highlighted today in Athens:


The Great Relay Controversy will finally be over, one way or the other. Whether Michael Phelps goes for gold medal No. 2 tonight could be decided in the morning preliminaries of the 400-meter freestyle relay. All along, the coaches had said that his inclusion on the relay was not certain because he did not swim the 100 freestyle at the trials, a traditional qualifier.

But because Phelps had a time of 49.05 seconds at the nationals in February, he will be in the mix, despite continued complaints from Gary Hall Jr., who is another candidate for the relay. Other finals will include the men's 100 breaststroke, the women's 100 butterfly and the women's 400 freestyle.

-- Lisa Dillman

Men's Basketball

The U.S. team's opener against Puerto Rico shouldn't be a problem for the U.S., which defeated Puerto Rico, 96-71, in its exhibition opener even after Coach Larry Brown sat out Allen Iverson, LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire for being late to a team meeting.

-- Helene Elliott


There is history, maybe even some bad blood, between the two teams in the featured attraction at the softball stadium today. The United States is No. 1, has been for 18 years in the world rankings, and its main challenger is Australia.

In the Atlanta Olympics, the first year for softball in the Games, the U.S. team won its first five games and then faced Australia. Dani Tyler hit a homer to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead, but she was so excited in her celebration at home that she missed the plate, and the Aussies tagged her out. Lisa Fernandez, then and now the U.S. star, took a perfect game into the 10th inning, with her team having scratched out a run in the top of the 10th. With two out and two strikes on Joann Brown, her former UCLA teammate, Fernandez was a strike away from victory. As is the rule in softball, extra innings start with a player on second, so when Brown hit the 0-2 pitch over the fence, Australia had produced a 2-1 shocker.

That was the only U.S. loss that year in the round-robin tournament. (The U.S. came back to win the gold medal.) But in 2000 in Sydney, the Americans won their first two games and then, unbelievably, lost three in a row, the third to Australia. That game went to the 13th inning, and Fernandez was victimized again, giving up a two-run homer to Peta Edebone. The U.S. was the last team in its group to make the medal round, but it still won the gold by defeating all three teams it had lost to earlier, including a 1-0 win over Australia.

-- Bill Dwyre

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