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U.S. Men Good to the Last Shot in Water Polo

August 16, 2004|From Wire Reports

Tony Azevedo's third goal of a men's water polo pool-play game, a last-second shot that gave the United States a 7-6 victory over Croatia on Sunday, bolstered Coach Ratko Rudic's idea that his squad is coming of age at the Olympics.

After Croatia's Nikola Frankovic tied the score, 6-6, with 26 seconds remaining, Rudic called a timeout with eight seconds left in regulation. Goalkeeper Brandon Brooks passed inside to three-time Olympian Wolf Wigo, who faked three times in front of the cage before finding an unmarked Azevedo on the left side.

"I wanted that ball," said Azevedo. "I saw we had two seconds when I got the ball, so I didn't have time. I had to shoot -- the bounce was on our side."

Rudic, who guided the former Yugoslavia to back-to-back Olympic final wins over the U.S. in 1984 and '88 and coached the Italian gold medalists at Barcelona in '92, called the Group A victory a character-building result.

"It's the first time we won in the last seconds -- after 50 years of losing in the last minute, we win," he said. "That's a good change. We need these things for the players to grow in the tournament."

Hungary, a seven-time Olympic champion and reigning world champion, opened its title defense with a 6-4 win over No. 3-ranked Serbia and Montenegro in another Group A match on three unanswered goals in the last quarter.

Spain, 1996 Olympic champion and world champion in 1998 and 2001, let a 5-2 lead slip before holding off Italy, 5-4, in the biggest Group B match.

In other Group B results, Germany upset Greece when Tim Wollthan scored the only goal of the last period to break a 4-4 deadlock, and Australia defeated Egypt, 14-3.



American Duos Win

Top-ranked American beach volleyball duo Misty May and Kerri Walsh, teammates for only the second time in two months, defeated Japan's Chiaki Kusuhara and Ryoko Tokuno, 21-9, 21-16, in pool play.

May spent much of the summer rehabbing a pulled abdominal muscle while Walsh played with others and fretted about her favorite partner's status. They played five matches in Hermosa Beach in July before May decided she needed more time to recover.

"It's fine. No problem," May said Sunday. "It felt great to get out there."

Earlier, Americans Dax Holdren and Stein Metzger rallied from a set down to beat Australians Andrew Schacht and Josh Slack, 22-24, 24-22, 15-13.



Return to Panathinaiko

Three South Korean women mastered trying conditions in the individual competition when the Olympics returned to the venue of the first modern Games in 1896, but it was Jennifer Nichols of Cheyenne, Wyo., who picked up the first victory of the day in the 18-arrow elimination matches.

Rising to the historic occasion at the marble Panathinaiko Stadium, Bhutanese wild-card entrant Tshering Chhoden staged the biggest upset on the opening day of elimination matches to beat 11th-seeded Lin Sang of China. Just a few hundred spectators witnessed the historic homecoming to the central Athens venue known as Kallimarmaron, or beautiful marble, a site used for sports since ancient times.

South Korean Yun Mi-Jin, Olympic champion four years ago at the age of just 17, overcame early nerves to beat Hanna Karasiova of Belarus, 162-155, and teammates Lee Sung-Jin and Park Sung-Hyun also advanced with comfortable wins in the 18-arrow shootouts.



World Records for U.S.

With a tail wind packing gusts of up to 20 mph, both the U.S. men's and women's eights broke world records and won tough preliminary heats to advance to the finals. No records will fall today, however, as forecasts for stronger winds had officials postponing competition.

The American men finished the 2,000-meter race in 5:19.85, easily beating the previous mark of 5:22.80, set by the Netherlands in 1999. The American women won in 5:56.55, eclipsing the previous world mark of 5:57.02 set by Romania in 1999.

The Australian lightweight double scull of Sally Newmarch and Amber Halliday set a third world record, finishing in 6:49.90 to break a mark that had stood for nine years.



Perfect Final for Russian

Alexei Alipov of Russia won the gold medal in trap shooting with a perfect final round. Alipov shot all 25 targets in the final to finish with an overall score of 149.

Alipov finished three points ahead of Italy's Giovanni Pellielo, who won the silver. Adam Vella of Australia took the bronze with a 145. American Lance Bade of Vancouver, Wash., finished fifth.

Olena Kostevych of Ukraine won the gold medal in women's 10-meter air pistol, needing a shoot-off to beat Jasna Sekaric of Serbia and Montenegro in the final. Bulgaria's Maria Grozdeva beat China's Ren Jie for the bronze.



Americans Triumphant

Defending women's singles champion Venus Williams overpowered Melinda Czink of Hungary, 6-1, 6-2, and Andy Roddick made his Olympic debut with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory over Flavio Saretta of Brazil in first-round matches.

The biggest stunner was No. 4 Tim Henman's 6-3, 6-3 loss to Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic.

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