- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 22, 2004

Sarunas Jasikevicius found basketball redemption, Michael Phelps and Jenny Thompson reached record levels in swimming, South Korean gymnast Yang Tae-young was unfairly deprived of a gold medal and Germany lost two equestrian golds on appeal.

It was a day filled with angst and elation yesterday at the Summer Olympics in Athens.

Jasikevicius, a former University of Maryland player, scored 28 points and contributed a four-point play that put Lithuania ahead to stay in the fourth quarter of a 94-90 victory over Team USA.

“This is, in a way, an incredible win, and in a way, it doesn’t mean anything,” Jasikevicius said. “We came here not to beat the States or any other team; we just came here to fight for the medal.”

Jasikevicius atoned for his missed three-point shot that kept Lithuania from upsetting the Americans in the 2000 Sydney Games. This loss was the second for the United States in Athens, topping the nation’s total for its first 68 years of Olympic competition, but Team USA qualified for the quarterfinals anyway when Angola lost to Greece.

In swimming, Phelps collected his record-tying eighth medal while watching teammates do all the work in the 400-meter individual medley. Phelps, who earlier yielded his spot in the final to teammate Ian Crocker, earned the gold because he swam the event in the preliminaries. Said Phelps of the final: “I felt like I was part of that race.”

Thompson got her 12th career medal, a silver, in the women’s medley relay, but it was a bittersweet day for the 31-year-old swimmer, who looked her age in failing to hold a U.S. lead in the butterfly anchor leg. Said Thompson, who is competing in her fourth and final Olympics: “I had hoped to do a little better, but I’m pretty proud just to be here at all.”

With medal No. 12, Thompson broke a tie with swimmers Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi and shooter Carl Osburn as the most decorated U.S. Olympians. Ten of her medals, including eight golds, came in relays.

Paul Hamm’s gold in Wednesday’s men’s gymnastics all-around final was tainted when officials unfairly docked South Korea’s Yang a tenth of a point in start value for the parallel bars, dropping him to bronze. The South Korean team said it would ask the Court of Arbitration for Sports to determine if Yang deserves a gold.

Hamm, whose official margin of 0.012 over runner-up Kim Dae-eun was the event’s narrowest margin ever, became the first American man to win the all-around title.

In equestrian competition, France was awarded the team gold medal and Britain’s Leslie Law the individual gold after three countries won a joint appeal of a decision giving both victories to Germany.

The ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sports dropped the Germans to fourth place behind France, Britain and the United States because it said the judges’ decision to impose a time penalty on apparent individual winner Bettina Hoy “was of a purely factual nature, falling within its exclusive jurisdiction” and that the decision shouldn’t have been reversed by the International Equestrian Federation because that body had no right to do so.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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