- The Washington Times - Monday, August 11, 2008

From combined dispatches

BEIJING | The volleyball players huddled, had a moment of silence and then set out on their mission - to do what little they could to ease the pain of their grieving coach and his shattered family.

Coach Hugh McCutcheon and his wife, 2004 volleyball Olympian Elisabeth “Wiz” Bachman, would miss this game. They spent the day at Beijing hospital; a day before, her father was killed and her mother critically injured by a suicidal, knife-wielding attacker at a Beijing landmark.

And so, on Sunday, the U.S. men’s team was determined to play its best - for its coach and for his in-laws, both of them devoted fans. Ultimately, despite a midmatch letdown, the Americans persevered in an opening-round match, defeating Venezuela 3-2.

“Hearing the news was tragic, stunning - words can’t describe it,” team captain Tom Hoff said. “‘How can I help?’ That’s all we were thinking. … We talked about how the best thing we could do was try to play volleyball.”

The government tightened security Sunday around Beijing’s scenic spots in response to the attack on Todd and Barbara Bachman of Lakeville, Minn., and a Chinese tour guide. The site of the stabbings - the 13th-century Drum Tower - was closed to tourists with a note at the ticket booth asking for visitors’ understanding. Someone had left a bouquet of yellow and white lilies and chrysanthemums at the entrance, flowers of mourning in China.

The assailant, 47-year-old Tang Yongming, leapt to his death from the tower. According to Xinhua news service, police said Tang acted out of despair over two failed marriages and a 21-year-old son who had been charged with fraud.

MEN’S SOCCER

TIANJIN, China | The United States was within seconds of a major win and a quarterfinal berth. Now it’s a tie away.

The Americans allowed a goal on a free kick by Gerald Sibon in the third minute of injury time, forcing them to settle for a 2-2 tie with the Netherlands.

“We were very close to being in the quarterfinals, and now we are very far,” U.S. coach Peter Nowak said. “Before the game, nobody gave us a chance. And I think we played pretty good. You can look at this as half empty or half full.”

Freddy Adu and Michael Bradley both picked up their second yellow cards of the tournament and won’t play in the next group game.

TENNIS

BEIJING | Top-seeded Ana Ivanovic withdrew on the first day of competition with inflammation in her right thumb that has bothered her for several weeks.

Her decision was announced after play was called for the day because of rain with only nine of 45 scheduled matches completed.

Among the few players to complete victories was James Blake, at No. 8 the top-seeded American in the men’s draw.

Ten matches were suspended and 26 postponed. Serena Williams was interrupted with a one-set lead, and despite a long wait, Roger Federer never got on court.

TRACK AND FIELD

BEIJING | The IOC barred Greek sprinter Katerina Thanou from the Beijing Games, saying her role in a drug-testing cover-up four years ago in Athens was “a scandalous saga” that had brought the Olympic movement into disrepute.

Thanou and fellow Greek sprinter Kostas Kenteris missed doping tests on the eve of the 2004 opening ceremony and said later they were injured in a motorcycle accident. Both eventually withdrew from the games and were banned by the IAAF, the governing body for world track and field.

The International Olympic Committee on Sunday excluded Thanou, punishing her for the 2004 doping incident and following a recommendation of its disciplinary panel. In addition, the IOC executive board invoked a second rule that bars the Greek on what amounts to moral grounds.

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