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Cuba Rallies, Advances to Baseball Final

August 25, 2004|From Times Wire Services

Cuba booked its fourth consecutive trip to the Olympic baseball final after rallying in the eighth inning to beat Canada, 8-5, Tuesday in a semifinal game.

The Cubans' opponent today will be Australia, which reached its first gold-medal game after upsetting Japan, 1-0. Canada and Japan will play for the bronze.

Cuba, which has won two gold medals and one silver in baseball since it was reinstated as an Olympic sport for the 1992 Games, scored six runs in the eighth inning after a throwing error by Peter Orr.

Canada scored twice in the bottom of the ninth, and a batted ball that came within inches of a home run that would have tied the score instead became the final out.

Cuban third baseman Michel Enriquez said the back-and-forth game has made the Cuban team stronger.

"This is a young team that felt the pressure of a tough situation and then rose to the occasion, coming through in a difficult time," Enriquez said. "We will give joy to the Cuban people by winning the gold medal."

Japan was the only team to beat Cuba in the preliminary round and came into Athens with a squad made up completely of the best of their pro league. Leaving the field Tuesday, several Japanese players said they felt crushed by the loss.

"Honestly, we really wanted the gold medal, but we lost and now can't get it," shortstop Shinya Miyamoto said. "That is a shock for me."

A single by Australia first baseman Brendan Kingman off right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka in the sixth inning drove in the game's only run.



Aussie Heal Wins Finale

Shane Heal was carried off the court on his teammates' shoulders after Australia beat New Zealand, 98-80, to finish ninth in the men's tournament.

The four-time Olympian scored 30 points in his last game. Heal, 33, has announced his retirement from basketball.

Serbia and Montenegro, the two-time defending world champion, beat Angola, 85-62, to finish 11th.

In the women's tournament, China beat Japan, 82-63, for ninth place, and Nigeria, making its first appearance at the Olympics, earned its first victory by beating winless South Korea, 68-64, to finish 11th.



Canada Wins First Gold

Veteran Lori-Ann Muenzer became the first Canadian in history to win an Olympic cycling gold medal. Muenzer, 38, and the oldest female cyclist at these Olympics, swept Russia's Tamilla Abassova, 17 years her junior, in the best-of-three final of the women's sprint.

Canadian cyclists had previously won 10 Olympic medals -- five silver, five bronze.

Muenzer lost her first race of the day, falling to Australia's Anna Meares in the opening round of the best-of-three semifinals. She followed that up with four consecutive victories on her way to the gold medal.

Meares, who set a world record in winning the time trial gold medal earlier at these Olympics, won the bronze.

Australian Ryan Bayley powered his way to the men's sprint gold medal, rallying for a 2-1 victory over world champion Theo Bos of the Netherlands.

Germany's Rene Wolff won the bronze.

In the day's other final, unheralded 19-year-old Mikhail Ignatyev won gold for Russia in the men's points race. Defending Olympic champion Joan Llaneras of Spain took silver and German veteran Guido Fulst won bronze.



China Wins Again

The Americans are plunging toward a dismal performance at the Olympic diving pool, still in search of their first medal of the Games after getting blanked again in the men's three-meter springboard.

Peng Bo won China's third consecutive gold medal in the event, holding off Canadian teenager Alexandre Despatie and four-time Olympian Dmitri Sautin of Russia.

Troy Dumais, the lone U.S. diver to make the final, started the night in sixth -- and finished there. He climbed to fourth with a strong opening dive but couldn't follow it up. He wound up matching his sixth-place finish from four years ago and says he'll return in 2008.

"My job is not done," said the 24-year-old from Ventura. "My goal is to win a medal at the Olympics.

"I'll fight until I get one."

The Americans are facing the possibility of their first Olympic diving shutout since 1912. The U.S. divers aren't considered strong medal contenders in the two remaining events.



Cayard in Contention

American Paul Cayard kept himself in medal contention, rallying yet again to finish sixth in the lone Star class race.

Cayard, from Kentfield, Calif., is tied for third with Denmark's Niklas Holm with 26 points after six of 11 races.

Americans Tim Wadlow and Pete Spaulding appeared to have sailed themselves out of medal contention with finishes of 10th and 11th before winning the day's third race.

The crews from Spain, Ukraine and Britain appear to have locked up the medals. The final race is Thursday.



Hungarian Sets Record

Ferenc Gyurkovics of Hungary set an Olympic record by raising 429 pounds in the snatch while getting the silver medal in men's 231-pound weightlifting.

Gyurkovics broke the record of 423 1/2 pounds, a standard established to reflect the current weights being lifted in international competition.

Dmitry Berestov of Russia took the gold medal with a total of 935 pounds, 11 pounds more than Gyurkovics in the overall competition.

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