Olympic roundup: Olympics continue A.P. ó After Phelps
The Olympic roundup …
BEIJING ó Welcome to the rest of the Beijing Olympics ó the Summer Games of 2008, A.P.
The games continued Monday in search of a new headliner now that Michael Phelps has toweled off for the last time. The Bird’s Nest seemed the likeliest place for someone to emerge and, indeed, the big news of the day came from the track.
However, it wasn’t good news. It was the sad sight of Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang limping to the starting blocks, trying to race through injuries and quickly finding out he couldn’t.
To understand how big a deal this is, you have to understand how big a deal he is.
Liu is China’s first-ever male gold medalist in track, having won the 110 meters in Athens. Folks have spent the last four years expecting him to do it again on home turf, and in this land of 1.3 billion people, he’s nearly as much of a celebrity ó not just sports star, full-fledged celebrity ó as their main man, Yao Ming.
That’s why people inside the stadium cried. Why folks watching at subway stations gasped. Why his personal coach was too overcome with grief to speak at a news conference.
The Olympics, however, still went on Monday, without Liu or Phelps. At least there’s still Usain Bolt and his bid to become the first winner of the 100- and 200-meter races since Carl Lewis in 1984.
Bolt was second in his opening-round heat of the 200 in the morning, then easily won his quarterfinal heat at night, jogging down the stretch and still topping the reigning champ Shawn Crawford of the United States by several strides.
The United States still tops the medals table, now with 72, but China continues to run away with the most golds. With four more Monday, the Chinese are up to 39 (more than the overall count for any country but the U.S.), while the Americans have 22.
Also, Britain is up to 12 gold medals, its most since 1920.
The U.S. flag finally rose at the Bird’s Nest, and it came from an unexpected source when Stephanie Brown Trafton won the women’s discus. It went up again later when Angelo Taylor won the 400-meter hurdles, with Americans Kerron Clement and Bershawn Jackson taking silver and bronze.
Despite the pain of a lingering hamstring problem and the added bother of a tendon flare-up in his right foot, national pride carried Liu to the start line.
He took off at the gun, took three strides and then began hopping on his left leg, the good one. Someone else false-started, so he could have tried again, but there was no way. He peeled the lane-assignment number off each leg and headed for a tunnel.
“He couldn’t imagine the pain he was suffering,” said China’s track and field coach, Feng Shuyong. “Let me repeat: Liu Xiang will not withdraw unless the pain is unbearable.”
So the guy who croons in a music video, appears in TV commercials and looms on billboards will no longer have his gold-medal defense play out daily Monday through Thursday.
It’s a good thing Nastia Liukin already won the all-around, because the way she got silver in the uneven bars is enough to drive a gal nuts.
Liukin and China’s He Kexin got the same score, requiring a tiebreaker because dual medals are no longer awarded in gymnastics. The details are pretty crazy; all that matters is He won and Liukin didn’t.
The “Redeem Team” keeps powering through the Olympics, crushing Dirk Nowitzki and Germany 106-57. Next up: A quarterfinals game against Australia, which gave the U.S. team its only close competition thus far in an exhibition game two weeks ago. The winner goes to the semifinals against the Argentina-Greece winner.
The U.S. team beat China 9-1 in a game that featured rough play such as a home-plate collision that knocked out China’s top player, a retaliatory hit batsman and three ejections.
Feel free to move on to the next section if the details of the latest U.S. rout bore you.
It was a nine-run first inning against the hostesses on the way to a 9-0 win over China, leaving the Americans two wins from another gold medal. Their win streak is up to 23; two more and they get another gold before their sport goes off the docket until at least 2016.
Up next is Japan, already a 7-0 loser to the U.S., although their ace was saved for the rematch.
There won’t be an all-American men’s final.
Although top-ranked duo Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser rolled into the semifinals with a win over a German team, Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal lost to the defending Olympic champions from Brazil.
WOMENS FIELD HOCKEY
No goals. No more Olympics for the U.S. women, who were eliminated after a scoreless draw with Britain.
Get ready for a rematch. Just like 2004, the final will pit the United States and Brazil.
The Americans advanced by beating Japan 4-2. Brazil got there with a 4-1 victory over Germany.
The U.S. appears headed toward a second straight Olympics without any medals from the velodrome. American Sarah Hammer appears headed toward a layoff after breaking her left collarbone in a fall during the women’s points race. Jennie Reed also lost in the sprint quarterfinals.
Word to the wise: Don’t mess with Andrei Aramnau of Belarus.
The heavyweight broke three world records to win his country’s first Olympic gold in weightlifting.
The U.S. squad wrapped up pool play a perfect 5-0, beating winless Japan in three sets.
American Laura Bennett finished fourth, less than 30 seconds shy of a medal.
MEN’S WATER POLO
The U.S. beat Germany and won its preliminary group, earning an automatic berth in the semifinals. The Americans are guaranteed of finishing at least fourth, which would match their best since 1988.
Rami Zur, the only American to compete in the men’s 1,000-meter kayak single, advanced to the semis.
The only thing better than one swimmer named Anastasia? Two, of course, especially in synchro.
Russia’s tandem of Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova led the duet technical routine, more than a point ahead of Spanish duo that featured a Gemma and an Andrea.
China beat Germany 3-0 to win the men’s team event. South Korea got bronze.
The U.S. won team jumping, making it two Olympic titles in a row.