Olympic Roundup: Volleyball, Phelps, medal count
BEIJING ” On a day that featured Michael Phelps’ first gold medal in Beijing and Dara Torres swimming to silver at 41-year-old mom, perhaps the most gripping drama for Americans came from a first-round men’s volleyball match against an unheralded foe.
The U.S. team took the court against Venezuela with heavy hearts and a fill-in coach, as Hugh McCutcheon left to be with his wife following an attack at a Beijing tourist site that killed her father and critically wounded her mother.
The Americans huddled, arms linked, then bowed their heads for a moment of silence for Todd and Barbara Bachman, McCutcheon’s in-laws and the parents of Elisabeth “Wiz” Bachman, a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic team.
The men then went out and won their first two games. To claim the match, all they had to do was win one of the next three.
It took all three, but they got it.
“We talked about how the best thing we could do was try to play volleyball,” team captain Tom Hoff said.
Sunday in Beijing was filled with rain, toying with the tennis schedule and making cycling’s road race quite treacherous. Just ask the South Korean who wound up in a roadside ditch.
Unlike Athens, the pool here is indoors, at the spectacular Water Cube. And inside that is the spectacular Phelps.
In his first two swims of this meet, he set an Olympic record in prelims, then set the world record in his first final, the 400-meter individual medley. But the only thing that went wrong was the national anthem cutting off early during the medal ceremony. Odds are, he’ll give DJs plenty more chances to get it right.
With 21 medals decided through Sunday night, the Americans and Chinese are pulling away from the pack in the medal count. They’re not, however, separating from each other.
Both have eight medals, but give China the advantage because six are gold ” and none are bronze. The Americans have two gold, two silver and four bronze.
The U.S. vs. China theme is building in specific events, too ” like the women’s gymnastics prelims and a men’s basketball game Sunday night that was expected to become among the most-watched sporting events ever. The billion-plus Chinese love NBA players, and love Yao Ming even more; the lure of the national team opening against the “Redeem Team” of NBA stars is pretty irresistible, even with tipoff at 10:15 p.m. local time.
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