The Olympic roundup …
BEIJING ó Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin are familiar faces by now, so seeing the gymnasts side-by-side on the medals stand Tuesday was nice, but nothing new.
For that, get to know another American gold-medal winner, freestyle wrestler Henry Cejudo.
The son of illegal immigrants from Mexico, Cejudo (pronounced say-HOO-doh) was four when he last saw his dad. His mom raised six kids and often struggled to make ends meet. The family moved more times than anyone remembers.
He got into wrestling as a youngster because his older brother Angel was good at it, good enough to get invited to live at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Only halfway through high school, Henry went with him.
The kid became a national champ at 17, then defied conventional wisdom by blowing off college to study nothing but wrestling. Yet last year, at the world championship ó his first senior-level international event ó he didn’t win a single match.
Now he’s the world’s best in the 55-kilogram division, the youngest American ever to win an Olympic wrestling gold medal. That’s saying something, because his was the 50th gold won by U.S. wrestlers; swimming and track and field are the only sports to produce more.
His story is packed with vines of inspiration for all kinds of people to grasp. The parts he hopes resonate most: Dream big, work hard and never give up.
Cejudo’s gold and Johnson and Liukin finishing 1-2 in the balance beam were among the highlights for the U.S. delegation at the Olympics on Tuesday. Another gold medal came in the 100-meter hurdles, but it wasn’t from the expected sprinter, Lolo Jones.
With 205 of the 302 medals decided, the United States is atop the medals table with 79. Check out the distribution: 26 gold, 26 silver and 27 bronze. Talk about diversity.
China is close behind with 76 total medals, but 43 of them are gold.
Track and field
Sanya Richards was on the medals stand and she wasn’t happy about it. She didn’t like the color: bronze.
The favorite in the women’s 400 meters, Richards led in the stretch but faded at the end, ruining what would’ve been a great comeback from an illness that cost her most of 2007. “I feel so betrayed by my body once again,” said Richards, adding that her hamstring started tightening in the last 80 meters.
GymnasticsJohnson and Liukin went 1-2 in the all-around also, but it was the other way around. In fact, Johnson came into the balance beam finals with three silvers.
While Johnson finally got her gold, Liukin’s fifth medal of these games matched the most ever for an American female gymnast at a single Olympics. Mary Lou Retton did it in 1984 and Shannon Miller in 1992.
Get ready for a rumble.
Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor ó the winners of 107 straight matches, including the last Olympic title ó are headed to the finals against the Chinese duo of Tian Jia and Wang Jie.
The Americans easily beat a Brazilian tandem in the semifinals. Tian and Wang advanced by beating another team from China.
The United States has now reached the podium in all four Olympics since beach volleyball was added to the games in 1996.
“I think they are going to be the Olympic champions, for sure,” said Renata, part of the Brazilian team defeated by the Americans.
BaseballDespite losing its opener, losing one key player to a gruesome injury and seeing another key player get hurt, the U.S. is headed to the medal round.
The Americans advanced with a 4-2 victory over Taiwan, powered by John Gall’s go-ahead homer and a solid outing by pitcher Brandon Knight. The final prelim test comes Wednesday night against medal favorite Japan. The semifinals start Friday.
Not that there was much doubt, but the U.S. women are headed back to the Final Four of this tournament.
CyclingThis wasn’t Olympic cycling. It was the British Open.
With Victoria Pendleton winning the women’s track sprint and Chris Hoy taking the men’s version, the Brits won seven events and 12 medals in cycling, with Hoy claiming three golds.
WrestlingAmerican Mike Zadick worked so hard to get to the Olympics. Was it worth it? He wrestled for less than 10 minutes over two matches and didn’t score in either one.
After a slow start, the U.S. took down Italy in five sets to advance to a semifinal matchup with undefeated Cuba.
Women’s water polo
The U.S. will be playing for gold, taking on the Netherlands on Thursday.
The top American was Hunter Kemper, who finished seventh.
SailingThe U.S. got its first gold from the regatta when British-born Anna Tunnicliffe won the women’s Laser Radial class. China’s Xu Lijia got bronze, marking the third sailing medal for the hosts.
The final is Wednesday. Americans Christina Jones and Andrea Nott came out of prelims fifth.
DivingChina is up to 6-for-6 in its bid for all eight golds.