- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2008

Sport-by-sport capsules

ARCHERY

When: Aug. 9-15, Olympic Green Archery Field

Events: Individual and three-person team competitions for men and women

What happened in Athens: The United States did not medal. The best finish was a fourth in the men’s team event.

Outlook: South Korea is expected to dominate. The Korean women are 5-for-5 in the team competition, and the men also won team gold in Athens. Some projections have the Koreans sweeping all four gold medals. The United States is sending five athletes, ranging from Brady Ellison, 19, to Butch Johnson, 52. Ellison didn’t start shooting the recurve bow until 2005 and is seen as a future medal contender. Johnson is making his fifth Olympic appearance and has won three team medals. Jennifer Nichols and Khatuna Lorig make up the women’s team. Nichols was an Olympian in Athens.

Unknown fact: The United States ranks second all time in archery medals (13) but has been shut out in two of the last four Olympics.

BADMINTON

When: Aug. 9-17 at Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium

Events: Men’s and women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles

What happened in Athens: The Chinese led with five medals, including three golds. The United States was shut out.

Outlook: The arena will be packed for this sport, one of the most popular in China, and the Chinese could sweep the medals in men’s singles. The foreign-born doubles team of Howard Bach (Vietnam) and Bob Malaythong (Laos) have been teammates on the U.S. team for less than a year. With another partner, Bach won the 2005 world championship. Malaythong lists Rockville as his current residence and came to the United States at age 8. On the women’s side, Eva Lee, who turns 22 on Thursday, is the nation’s top-ranked singles and doubles player (by a wide margin) and is part of the top-ranked mixed team with Bach. A three-time gold medalist at last year’s Pan American Games, Lee is a long shot to win a medal in Beijing.

Unknown fact: China has won 19 badminton medals since the sport achieved full-medal status in 1992. Only two non-Asian counties have won medals - Denmark (3) Netherlands (1).

BASEBALL

When: Aug. 13-23, Wukesong Baseball Fields 1 and 2

Events: Team tournament

What happened in Athens: Cuba defeated Australia for the gold medal. The United States did not even qualify for the games, losing to Mexico in the quarterfinals of a qualifying tournament.

Outlook: Managed by former major league skipper Davey Johnson, the United States is a definite medal contender even though it has no current major leaguers on the roster (and many organizations will not send their good minor league players) and faces challenges against Cuba and Japan. Host China will have an American feel with manager Jim Lefebvre and pitching coach Bruce Hurst. The Cuban team will arrive in China wanting to avenge its upset loss to Japan in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, and most of the roster returns. The Cubans are led by closer Pedro Luis Lazo and third baseman Yuilesky Gourriel. Lazo is the winningest pitcher in Cuban history, and Gourriel is a major league-caliber player.

Unknown fact: Cuba has won three of the four Olympic gold medals (it lost the title game in 2000 to the United States). In November, the United States beat Cuba in the World Cup.

BOXING

When: Aug. 9-24, Workers Indoor Arena

Events: Competitions in 11 weight classes - light flyweight, flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight, lightweight, light welterweight, middleweight, light heavyweight, heavyweight and super heavyweight

What happened in Athens: Cuba won five of the 11 weight classes, and the United States had to settle for one gold and one bronze.

Outlook: The United States leads all nations in boxing medals (107) but has won just one gold in the last two Olympics. This year, though, the United States has medal contenders at flyweight (Rau’Shee Warren), bantamweight (Capitol Heights’ Gary Russell Jr.) and middleweight (Demetrius Andrade). Russell, 20, is making his Olympic debut and won a bronze medal at the 2005 world championships. None of the five Cubans who won gold in Athens are back; three of them defected in December 2006. Russia has medal contenders at nearly every weight class. China has only one boxing medal, but that boxer - light heavyweight Zou Shiming - is the favorite. He won bronze in Athens.

Unknown fact: Boxing is the Olympic sport that does not allow professionals to compete.

CANOE/KAYAK

When: Aug. 11-14 (Slalom) and Aug. 18-23 (Flatwater), Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park

Events: Twelve competitions for the men (six individual) and four for the women (two individual)

What happened in Athens: Rebecca Giddens was the lone American medalist, winning silver in kayak slalom singles. The United States hasn’t won a gold medal since 1988, when the country won two.

Outlook: It’s entirely possible the United States will be blanked again. The local to watch is Bethesda resident Scott Parsons, who will be competing in whitewater kayak singles. Parsons has been ranked as high as seventh in the world this year and was sixth in Athens. Parsons works as a prosthetics technician for a company that makes artificial limbs for returning soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The best men’s medal hope is Olympic newcomer Benn Fraker, 19, in whitewater kayak singles. Fraker is coached by Cathy Hearn, a multiple world champion, and her brother Davey Hearn, a three-time Olympian and two-time world champion.

Unknown fact: Although the lanes in flatwater races are 29 feet, 6 inches wide, boats are required to stay in the middle of their lanes and can’t come within five meters of another boat.

— Ryan O’Halloran

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