- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 10, 2008

DAY 1 RECAP

Spain’s Samuel Sanchez won the gold in the men’s cycling road race that traveled from central Beijing past Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and other tourist spots before the 143 riders did seven loops of a course between two points of the Great Wall. “It’s like a dream. I still can’t believe I’ve just won the gold medal,” Sanchez said. The winning time was nearly 6 1/2 hours.

  • The U.S. men’s gymnastics team qualified for Tuesday’s team final with a quality performance Saturday afternoon. The Americans, led by Jonathan Horton and solid bar routines from Burke native Justin Spring, will start the finals .225 points behind third-place Russia. Spring is in the hunt to advance to the event finals in the parallel bars.
  • The Chinese captured two gold medals on Day 1. Chen Xiexia, a female weightlifter, won the first gold in the 63-kg division and set Olympic records in combined total weight (212 kg) and clean and jerk lift (117 kg). In men’s shooting, Pang Wei won the men’s 10-meter air pistol. “I had low expectations of myself, but my coach and teammates created ideal conditions for me to win,” he said.
  • The U.S. women’s soccer team rebounded from a loss to Norway on Wednesday to defeat Japan 1-0 and keep its chances for a third gold medal alive. Carli Lloyd received a left-wing cross and delivered a shot that hit the roof of the net in the 27th minute. The Americans still need to beat New Zealand to advance out of pool play.
  • SATURDAY’S BEST

    Mariel Pagonis won the first U.S. gold medal of the games and led an American sweep in women’s saber fencing. Pagonis repeated as champion by defeating Sada Jacobson 15-8. Becca Ward won bronze. The United States is also the favorite to win team gold.

    Michael Phelps started his road to a possible eight gold medals with a world record time of 4:03.84 in the 400 individual medley Sunday. That was nearly four seconds better than his time in the preliminaries Saturday, in which he broke the Olympic record he set four years ago in Athens.

    U.S. gymnast Jonathan Horton put himself in position to qualify for this week’s all-around finals with a total score of 91.650, the highest score in the Americans’ subdivision. Horton’s best score came in the high bar (15.575).

    An American qualified first in the women’s 400 IM, but it wasn’t Katie Hoff. Elizabeth Beisel, 15, making her Olympic debut, edged out Hoff for the top spot. However, Hoff wound up with a bronze in the final Sunday, and Beisel did not win a medal.

    BLOG EXCERPT

    Visit Ryan O’Halloran’s Blog of the Rings throughout the Olympics at washingtontimes.com/weblogs/blog-rings.

    The U.S. men’s basketball team found out why it stays at a hotel during the Olympics and not the Athletes Village. The team visited the grounds upon arriving Thursday. The team ate at McDonald’s and chatted with athletes. Carmelo Anthony got his picture taken with fellow Baltimore native Michael Phelps, and Jason Kidd chatted with Dara Torres.

    Quickly, though, the place became a madhouse as word spread that the team was in the cafeteria.

    ”We realized why we couldn’t stay at the village,” guard Deron Williams said. “It would be a great experience to stay there, but it turned into a bit of a circus. It caused quite a stir when we walked in. And it was after dinner hours, so I can’t even imagine it when it’s really full.”

    HANDING OUT THE MEDALS

    Winners aren’t the only ones who deserve medals in Beijing. Who merited what from the Olympics

    GOLD MEDAL

    Mariel Zagunis, United States, fencing

    Zagunis repeated as gold medalist in women’s saber. When she won in Athens, it was the first U.S. fencing gold in a century.

    SILVER MEDAL

    President Bush

    Not too many heads of state would go through the Olympic workout experience like W did Saturday, cycling, trying to hit a volleyball with the beach team and attending softball practice.

    BRONZE MEDAL

    Larsen Jensen, United States, swimming

    The bronze medal in this category will be a lump of coal and will go to somebody who acted like a moron. Jensen gets the award for declining to talk to reporters after qualifying first in the 400 free.

    DON’T MISS THIS …

    Three things from Beijing that are worth following Sunday

    1. USA VS. CHINA IN MEN’S BASKETBALL

    The Americans open Olympic action against Yao Ming and the Chinese (10:15 a.m.). It is the first of five pool games for the United States, which rolled past five opponents in a tuneup tour. There’s speculation this could be the most-watched game (television viewers) of all time, if there’s even a stat for that.

    2. FIRST GOLD FOR PHELPS

    Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff advanced through their heat races in the 400 IM - the signature event for both Maryland swimmers. Phelps started his march toward history with a world record, but Hoff wound up with the bronze in the final.

    3. U.S. VS. CHINA, PART II

    In the qualification stage of women’s gymnastics, the United States and China aren’t in the same group, but the two teams likely will meet Monday night East Coast time for the gold medal. The Americans start competition at 1:30 a.m., and all-around world champion Shawn Johnson leads them.

    CHINA FACT OF THE DAY

    At most electronics factories, the monthly pay equals $115-155 U.S. dollars. Most of the workers leave their villages to work, and they return home only once a year - all at the same time - for the “Spring Festival.”

    CLOSING LINE

    ”That’s why I’m an amateur and they’re Olympians.”

    - President Bush after riding for more than an hour on the Olympic mountain biking course

    - Ryan O’Halloran

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