2008 Summer Olympics

Olympic Briefs

August 20, 2008 

SPORTS OLY-WATERPOLO 9 ABA

Brenda Villa of the United States faces the defense of Australia on Tuesday, August 19, 2008, in the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing, China. (Abaca Press)

THIS DATE IN OLYMPIC HISTORY

1900, Paris: The lone appearance of cricket as an Olympic sport drew two teams: Great Britain and France. The Brits, represented by the Devon and Somerset Wanderers Cricket Club, won 262-104. The "French" team consisted of players from the British embassy in Paris.

— LEXINGTON (KY.) HERALD-LEADER

WHAT TO WATCH

• Track and field (men's 200 final), 8 p.m. tonight, KCRA (3) — Usain Bolt (above), the Jamaican who has already broken the world record in the 100, will now go after the world record in the 200. Michael Johnson set the mark (19.32) at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

• Women's beach volleyball (Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of U.S. vs. Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China, gold medal match, 8 p.m. tonight, KCRA (3) — The U.S. pair has yet to drop a set in Beijing and has won 68 consecutive international matches.

• Softball (U.S. vs. Canada-Australia winner, gold medal game), 3:30 a.m. Thursday, USA — After this game, the sport is off the Olympic schedule until at least 2016.

• Women's soccer (U.S. vs. Brazil, gold medal game), 6 a.m. Thursday, USA — The U.S. squares off against Brazil, the same team that knocked out the Americans 4-0 in the World Cup last fall. U.S. goalie Hope Solo was benched for that game, and afterward said she could have "made those saves" that her replacement, Brianna Scurry, missed. Now she gets her chance to prove it.

WORLD STOPPER

A goal from Brenda Villa (above) with a minute remaining pushed the U.S. women's water polo team to Thursday's gold medal game.

The 9-8 semifinal victory wasn't easy. Australia, America's archrival, refused to depart quietly. The U.S. bolted to an 8-5 lead with a brilliant third quarter. The Australians seemed done. They weren't.

While the American offense hibernated, the Aussies surged back. Australia tied the score, 8-8, with 2:27 left. Suddenly, the Americans were in danger. Their fans, who had chanted "USA, USA!" the entire game fell into silence.

Natalie Golda admitted she and her teammates were rattled.

"We were saying, 'Oh, great. Here we go,' " she said. "But at same time we were saying, 'We are not going to lose.' "

And they didn't. Villa's shot rescued the world's No. 1 team and sent it to the finals against the Netherlands, which upset Hungary, 8-7, in the other semifinal.

— THE GAZETTE (COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO.)

COUNTRY OF THE DAY

• KENYA

Population: 36,913,721

Location: Africa

Area: 224,962 square miles

National anthem: "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" (Oh God of All Creation)

Olympic history: Kenya burst onto the scene as a middle-distance running power in 1968, when Kip Keino won the gold medal in the 1,500 (and silver in the 5,000) and Amos Biwott won gold in the steeplechase.

Olympic fact: Of its 61 medals, 54 have come in running events, and the other seven in boxing.

All-time medals: Overall: 61,

Gold: 17
Silver: 24
Bronze: 20

— THE MIAMI HERALD

NOTES

• In weightlifting, Germany's Matthias Steiner won the men's super heavyweight division. At the medal ceremony, Steiner held up a picture of his wife, Susann, who died in a car accident last year. "I thought of her before the competition," he said. "I won this for her, for friends and family. But mostly for her."

• U.S. wrestler Mike Zadick worked so hard to get to the Olympics. Was it worth it? He wrestled for less than 10 minutes over two matches in 60-kilogram freestyle and didn't score in either one. "This is an opportunity I've wanted since I started wrestling at 5, 25 years ago, and it's pretty sour to have on me," he said. "It happened so quick, it's just kind of a shock to me, and it's something I'll deal with."

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