Malaythong's attitude isn't as obvious. He moved from Laos to Maryland, then Colorado and Orange. His family has wondered, he said, "why I didn't study to become a doctor or lawyer. They didn't understand about spending time on sports. Me making the Olympics, it has been a hard road with a lot of ups and downs. But I've justified my ambitions by making the Olympics. Winning a medal would be icing on the cake."
Bach wants more than the icing, though. "I want the cake," he said. "So does Bob."
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Begun in China centuries ago, badminton was played in the Olympics for the first time in 1992.
A match: Best two out of three games played to 21 points; points scored on every serve.
The shuttlecock: Made of goose feathers attached to a cork base; can travel up to 200 mph off a smash shot.
Events: Men's and women's singles and doubles, mixed doubles.
Competition: Aug. 9-17
2004 medal winners: China 5; South Korea 4; Indonesia 3; Britain, the Netherlands and Denmark, 1 each.
The serve: When serving, the racket head cannot be above your waist or a fault will be called and a point lost.
The U.S. team
Men: Howard Bach, Khan "Bob" Malaythong, Raju Rai
Women: Eva Lee, Mesinee "May" Mangkalakiri
On defense: Receive the shuttle high. It travels slowly when lifted.
On offense: Strike the shuttle at its apex.
On offense: Avoid hitting from too deep in the court.
On receiving serve: "I want to be able to contact the shuttle at the highest point so I can do more with the shot. Once you are late, you will have to lift the shuttle up, therefore you will be in defensive position."
-Howard Bach, U.S. Olympic badminton team
Sources: International Olympic Committee; Howard Bach; Times reporting
Matt Moody Los Angeles Times