Friday roundup: U.S. men's teams shine in Beijing

August 22, 2008

BEIJING (AP) -- Put up a net, put American men in action and watch out. At these Olympics, that's becoming an unbeatable combination.

From volleyball to water polo to basketball, the guys in red, white and blue made their country proud Friday.

Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers got it started by winning gold in beach volleyball. Then the U.S. indoor volleyball squad continued its surprising, emotional run by beating Russia and advancing to the gold-medal match for the first time since 1988.

Next came the fun at the pool. The water polo team, which came to China ranked ninth in the world, pulled off the latest in a string of upsets, beating Serbia to also reach the gold-medal match for the first time since '88.

Last, and certainly not least, was the basketball squad.

Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and their NBA All-Star pals chewed up and spit out Manu Ginobili and Argentina in the semifinals to clinch their spot in the finals. Winning with the ease of the original Dream Teams, this "Redeem Team" can put the U.S. back atop the sport for the first time since 2000 with one more win -- against Spain, a team they clobbered by 37 points earlier this tournament.


Speaking of dominating, Usain Bolt added a third gold medal and an unprecedented third world record to his Olympics by helping Jamaica win the 400-meter relay.

At day's end, the U.S. had 102 medals. With more guaranteed from events like volleyball, water polo and basketball, the Americans will have more than the 102 medals won four years ago in Athens, and is closing in on the 108 won in Barcelona in 1992.

China is second in total medals with 89, but is the runaway leader in golds with 47. The Americans are second with 31.

Those medal counts can change, though. Ukraine lost a silver Friday when the International Olympic Committee officially stripped Lyudmila Blonska of her second-place finish in women's heptathlon because of doping. American Hyleas Fountain moves up to second, with a Russian getting bronze.

The IOC also asked China to provide additional proof that five of the six members of its gold-winning women's gymnastics team were old enough to compete. If the IOC finds them to be underage, four medals could be affected.

Track and field

Bad news: Bolt is out of races to run.

In the final performance of his breakout Olympics, Bolt got the baton when the race was close and ended any doubt by the time his leg was done. Once he made a clean handoff to Jamaican teammate Asafa Powell, the only question was whether they'd get the world record, too.

Yep. At 37.10, they were 0.3 faster than the mark set in 1992 by a U.S. squad featuring Carl Lewis and Leroy Burrell.

Bolt is the first sprinter to claim three world records at one Olympics. He's the fourth guy ever to win all three sprint events; the last to do it was Lewis in 1984.

Powell crossed 0.96 second ahead of Trinidad and Tobago's Richard Thompson -- the biggest margin in the Olympics since 1936.

"We simply couldn't compete," said Thompson's teammate, Marc Burns.

The U.S. got its fifth gold of this track meet when Bryan Clay took the decathlon.

In other action, Australia's Steve Hooker won the pole vault, Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia completed an unprecedented women's distance double by adding the 5,000 meters to her 10K victory, Brazil's Maurren Higa Maggi won the women's long jump and Brazil won the women's 400-meter relay.

Italy's Alex Schwazer won the 50-kilometer walk, setting an Olympic record.


They started fast and finished strong. OK, so they let a 21-point lead trickle to six points in between. Still, the 101-81 victory over Argentina showed that the U.S. is not just out to win, they want to dominate.

Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points and James added 15. Ginobili hurt his left ankle midway through the first quarter and didn't return. Luis Scola picked up his workload and scored 28, helping the defending gold medalists mount a midgame rally.

In the other semifinal, Pau Gasol scored 19 points to lead Spain past Lithuania 91-86 for its first trip to the Olympic finals since 1984.

The Spaniards, winners of the 2006 world championship, are eager to avenge their 119-82 loss to the Americans in pool play.


The Americans played their first three games without coach Hugh McCutcheon, who was with his wife's family after her father was killed and her mother wounded by a knife-wielding attacker during a visit to a Beijing tourist site.

They didn't lose without him. And they haven't lost since he's returned.

By beating Russia 25-22, 25-21, 25-27, 22-25, 15-13, the U.S. clinched its first medal since bronze in 1992. They will play Sunday against Brazil, which beat Italy in the other semifinal.

The Americans won gold in 1984 and '88.

"We've got motivation coming out of our ears," veteran Lloy Ball said.

Beach volleyball

Dalhausser and Rogers gave the U.S. a sweep in this sport, adding to the gold won by the women. Americans have won five of the eight medals since beach volleyball was added to the games in Atlanta.

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