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U.S. Men May Get Washed Away on the Beach

August 18, 2004|From Times Wire Reports

In the beach volleyball world, the United States has been that bully who walks around knocking over umbrellas and kicking sand in everyone's face.

The American men dominated the sport, winning gold and silver in 1996 and gold in 2000. After poor performances the last couple of days, though, the United States might not even have a team reach the quarterfinal round in this year's Games.

"I'm sure both our teams thought we'd be 2-0 right now, but that's not how it's happened," Dax Holdren said after his team's loss Tuesday to Norway. "We still have a really good shot and that's all we wanted out here, a chance."

After losing a nail-biter in three sets, 14-21, 21-15, 16-14, Holdren and teammate Stein Metzger are 1-1 entering their final pool-play match Thursday against Brazil. The other American men's team -- Dain Blanton and Jeff Nygaard -- carries an 0-2 record into its match today against Switzerland.

In contrast, the U.S. women's teams, which have traditionally struggled in the young sport, are cruising through the field. With Misty May and Kerri Walsh's 21-11, 21-13 victory over the Netherlands, both American teams are 2-0. Between them, they've lost only one of nine games through four Olympic matches.

May and Walsh hit the sand again Thursday against the Czech Republic, and Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs have their final pool-play match today against Switzerland.

Orlando Sentinel



Japan Stuns Cuba

Daisuke Matsuzaka shut out Cuba for eight innings, leading Japan to a 6-3 victory and handing the Cubans only their third loss in four Olympics.

The round-robin victory was a breakthrough for Japan, which sat on the sideline while Cuba and the United States won the first three gold medals in Olympic play. Japan's major leagues sent an all-pro team to Athens for the first time, hoping to close the gap.

Matsuzaka, 23, gave up only four hits and one walk as Japan (3-0) pulled ahead, 6-0, after eight innings. Ariel Pestano had a two-run double with one out in the ninth for Cuba (2-1).

In other games, Canada defeated the Netherlands, 7-0; Taiwan coasted to a 7-1 victory over Greece, and Australia gave up only one hit in beating Italy, 6-0.



Bringing Home Gold

Ilias Iliadis of Greece beat Roman Gontyuk of Ukraine to win the gold medal in the men's 81-kilogram (179-pound) class.

Japan's Ayumi Tanimoto beat Claudia Heill of Austria to win the women's 63-kilogram (139-pound) division.

Dmitri Nossov of Russia and Flavio Canto of Brazil shared the bronze in the men's competition, and Driulys Gonzalez Morales of Cuba and Urska Zolnir of Slovenia did so in the women's.



Mexico Knocked Out

Mexico defeated Greece, 3-2, in an action-packed and acrimonious game, only to discover it had still been eliminated from the competition.

After celebrating a victory over the host, the Mexicans heard the other group game, between Mali and South Korea, had finished in a 3-3 tie -- eliminating them.

Mexico finished with four points and Greece one -- a sad ending for the host after its senior team had won the European title six weeks ago. But the tie in Thessaloniki gave Mali and South Korea five points each.

In other games, Argentina's 1-0 shutout of Australia, on Andres D'Allesandro's goal in the ninth minute, was the team's third in a row and confirmed the Argentines' status as favorites for the gold medal.

Tunisia, a 3-2 winner over Serbia and Montenegro, drew even on points with Australia only to finish third on goal differential, so Argentina and Australia advanced.



U.S. Breaks Through

Clay Stanley scored 21 points and fellow Olympic rookie Reid Priddy added nine kills to lead the Americans to a sweep of the Netherlands, 26-24, 25-20, 25-18.

The U.S. ended a nine-match Olympic losing streak in the process, a skid that dated to the Atlanta Games in 1996.

"We finally got one," outside hitter Kevin Barnett yelled as he left the floor.

Reinder Nummerdor led the Dutch with 11 points, including eight kills.

After a four-set loss to Italy in their first game, the Americans were strong on defense and at the service line: Stanley had three of their six aces.



Sheik Ties Record

Sheik Ahmed Almaktoum, a former national squash champion and a member of Dubai's ruling family, tied an Olympic record in winning the men's double trap for the United Arab Emirates' only medal of any color.

Almaktoum scored 189 points, finishing 10 shots ahead of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who won India's first individual silver at any Games. Wang Zheng of China won the bronze.

In the men's 50-meter pistol, Mikhail Nestruev of Russia won the gold medal with a score of 663.3 points. Jin Jong-Oh of South Korea got the silver, and Kim Jong Su of North Korea won the bronze.

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