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Liukin, Phelps are golden for U.S.

August 15, 2008
(Page 2 of 3)

Ryan Lochte did it in the 200-meter backstroke and Rebecca Soni took the 200 breaststroke. Then Lochte faced a double-whammy -- another race 29 minutes later, and a foe named Phelps. He wound up with bronze, with the silver going to Hungary's Lazslo Cseh, another guy with a hard-luck story. Cseh has finished second in three straight races, trailing Phelps each time.

Soni beat Australia's Leisel Jones and took away the record Jones had held for 2 1/2 years, an eon considering how quickly standards are dropping at this meet. (Phelps' win made it 21 world records set at the Water Cube.)

Soni had already claimed a surprising silver behind Jones in the 100, a race she entered only because Jessica Hardy failed a doping test at the U.S. trials and was dropped from the team.

American Natalie Coughlin won bronze in the 100 freestyle, her fifth medal of these games with the medley relay still to go.

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"I'm very proud of how I've handled the heavier workload," she said.

Track and field

Tyson Gay coasted through a 100 meter preliminary heat in 10.22 seconds, not great but good enough to finish first -- and, perhaps, answer some questions about his health. This was his first race since injuring his left hamstring six weeks ago at the U.S. Olympic trials.

World record-holder Usain Bolt and the guy he took it from, fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell, also won their heats. The quarterfinals were set for later Friday. All three are expected to make Saturday's final -- perhaps the most highly anticipated event of the 10-day track and field meet at the Bird's Nest.

The first medals of the meet were to come at night, with Americans expected to sweep the men's shotput. The women's 10,000 meters also was to be decided.

Softball

Turns out, the U.S. women are as dominant as ever.

First they set an Olympic record with four homers in a 7-0 victory over Japan. Then they resumed a rain-stopped game against Canada, trailing 1-0. After being five outs from losing, they wound up winning by the lopsided score of 8-1.

The Americans broke the game open with four runs in the sixth, helped by two errors by Canadian shortstop Jennifer Salling, and a wild pitch and hit batter by Canada's Dione Meier.

Women's basketball

Australia remains a force, with Lauren Jackson scoring 30 points in a 96-73 win over Latvia that keeps the Opals a perfect 4-0. Next up is a game Sunday against Russia, also 4-0, for the top spot in the pool. The Russians remained perfect but were a bit sloppy in a 74-64 victory over winless Brazil.

In other games Friday, the Czech Republic beat New Zealand 90-59 to clinch a berth in the quarterfinals.

The Americans were to play Spain later.

Tennis

An American won't win the men's singles title. James Blake, the last hope left, lost to Fernando Gonzalez. The Chilean blew four match points before winning 6-4, 5-7, 11-9, to advance to the gold-medal match. He'll play the winner of the other semifinal, between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokavic.

Roger Federer and the Williams sisters, who lost their shot at the singles title Thursday, all advanced in doubles.

Federer and fellow Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka beat Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi of India to get into the semifinals, finishing a match that was suspended at 1:15 a.m. because of rain and resumed 15 hours later.

Venus and Serena Williams also completed a suspended second-round doubles match and beat Ayumi Morita and Ai Sugiyama of Japan, 7-5, 6-2.

Baseball

The U.S. baseball team is in trouble. They fell to 1-2, lost a key player to an injury and have angered the mighty Cubans by accusing them of dirty play after losing to them 5-4 in 11 innings.

In their first game under a wacky extra-inning format -- from the 11th on, teams automatically get runners on first and second and can start anywhere in the batting order -- the Americans gave up two runs in the top of the inning, then fell one shy in the bottom. The last at-bat started with Jayson Nix squaring to bunt and fouling the pitch off his left eye. However, U.S. manager Davey Johnson thought Cuban's Pedro Lazo was throwing at Nix's head.

"No game of baseball is worth that," Johnson said. "In my wildest imagination I didn't think they'd throw right at my player's coconut."

Said Cuban manager Antonio Pacheco: "It was a lack of respect on the part of the American coach to say that. The Cuban team respects the game and respects our opponents and is incapable of doing that."

The other early game was the first to invoke the new extra-inning rule. China won it 8-7 over Taiwan in 12 innings.

Shooting

The Emmons family picked up another medal. This time, it was hubby Matt getting silver in the 50-meter prone, an event he won four years ago. His wife, Katerina, who shoots for the Czech Republic, has a gold and a silver from these games.

Ukraine's Artur Ayvazian went into the final round with a 2-point lead on Matt Emmons, then scored at least 10 points on each of his 10 shots in the final, making it difficult for Emmons to catch up.

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