YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Windsurfer Gives Israel Its First Gold Medal

August 26, 2004|From Times Wire Services

Israel's national anthem was played Wednesday during an Olympic medal ceremony for the first time in the Jewish state's 56-year history after Gal Fridman won the gold medal in windsurfing.

As the last notes sounded, exuberant Israelis mobbed the podium, embracing Fridman and snapping photographs as frantic security officials were unable to hold them back.

"Every Olympics we dream of hearing the anthem and seeing the flag. It's the top," Fridman said. "I was feeling very proud and so happy to hear the people singing it. I sang as strong as I could, but nobody heard it because everybody was screaming."

Israel entered the Summer Games in 1952, but its Olympic history is marked more by terrorist attacks and political demonstrations than by sports achievements and medals. At the 1972 Munich Games, 11 athletes and coaches were killed by Palestinian terrorists.

There had been tremendous pressure on Israeli athletes to get their country's first gold at the Athens Games. The national anthem is "Hatikvah" -- meaning "the hope" -- and Israeli fans sang it spontaneously last week when Ariel Zeevi won a bronze medal in judo.

When Zeevi won his medal, he called it "the hardest day of my life" because of the scrutiny. Israel had won only one silver and three bronze medals dating to 1952. Fridman claimed one of those bronzes in 1996.

Nikolaos Kaklamanakis, the Greek who lighted the Olympic flame during the Games' opening ceremony, took the silver and Nick Dempsey of Britain took the bronze.


Cuba Golden Again

With a balanced offense, Cuba rolled over upstart Australia, 6-2, to win the gold medal -- its third in four tries since the sport gained Olympic status.

The Cubans pounded 13 hits, including a two-run home run by Frederich Cepeda, a two-run double by Eduardo Parent and a two-run single by Eriel Sanchez.

With the U.S. failing to qualify for the eight-team field, Cuba had been expected to vie for the gold medal with a Japanese "dream team" stocked with top pros. But Australia stunned the favored Japanese, 1-0, in the semifinals. Openly frustrated by its loss, Japan routed Canada, 11-2, to win the bronze medal.


Rego Breaks Through

Emanuel Rego and Brazil finally have gold.

Rego and Ricardo Santos, the world's top-ranked men's beach volleyball team, overpowered Spain's Javier Bosma and Pablo Herrera, 21-16, 21-15, to win a gold medal for the nation that has dominated the sport for more than a decade.

Brazil failed to win a medal in 1996 when the sport made its Olympic debut and earned a disappointing silver in Sydney.

Rego had never come that close. He has the most wins on the international FIVB tour -- 47 victories and more than $1.3 million in earnings -- but had flopped at the Olympics, twice finishing ninth with different partners.

Swiss pair Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel won the bronze by defeating Australians Julien Prosser and Mark Williams, 19-21, 21-17, 15-13.


Doktor Gets the Call

Two-time Olympic champion Martin Doktor of the Czech Republic will get a shot to regain his flatwater canoe crown in a race against the man who took it from him in Sydney.

Doktor, winner of the 500- and 1,000-meter C-1 races in Atlanta in 1996, easily won his semifinal heat in the C-1 1,000-meter division, setting up a showdown in the finals with three-time defending world champion Andreas Dittmer of Germany, who won the event in Sydney.

Americans were eliminated from four other divisions of canoeing. No U.S. boat has made a final, although Americans have more boats scheduled for semifinal races today.


U.S. Women Falter

Yulia Pakhalina of Russia led qualifying for the women's three-meter springboard diving, beating out Canada's Blythe Hartley and China's Guo Jingjing.

The Americans had another frustrating day at the pool. Rachelle Kunkel of West Valley City, Utah, advanced to the semifinals with a 12th-place showing, but Kimiko Soldati of Magnolia, Texas, was eliminated from her only event. Soldati, who won the U.S. trials in June, finished 21st.

With only two events left, the Americans have yet to win a diving medal. They're trying to avoid their first medal shutout since the 1912 Stockholm Games.


McDonald Misses Medal

Anky van Grunsven and her horse Salinero danced their way to gold in the individual dressage finals.

The Dutch rider finished first in the musical freestyle to overtake Germany's Ulla Salzgeber on Rusty, who had been leading before Wednesday's final round. Bronze went to Spain's Beatriz Ferrer-Salat on Beauvalais.

The U.S. came the closest to an individual dressage medal since 1932 with a fourth-place finish by Debbie McDonald of Hailey, Idaho.


Aussies Return to Final

Australia, seeking its first gold medal in men's field hockey, advanced to its fourth gold-medal game with a 6-3 defeat of Spain in the semifinals.

The Australians, who have three bronze-medal finishes to go with three silver medals, will play the Netherlands, the two-time defending Olympic champions, on Friday.

Los Angeles Times Articles