- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 10, 2008

From combined dispatches

BEIJING | A U.S. women’s volleyball team struck by tragedy just hours earlier beat Japan in an emotional Olympic opener marred by the fatal stabbing of an ex-player’s father.

The team took the court Saturday after learning of the stabbing death of Todd Bachman, father of former Olympian Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon. He was attacked by a knife-wielding man at a popular tourist site in Beijing.

Her mother was seriously injured by the attacker, who jumped to his death from a balcony of the Drum Tower, an ancient landmark the Americans were visiting.

“It’s hard to put it in words,” a tearful U.S. player Logan Tom said after the match. “That’s not something that’s supposed to happen.”

The killing cast a pall over the game, in which the Americans defeated Japan 3-1 (25-20, 20-25, 25-19, 25-21) in the first match of preliminary play at the Capital Indoor Stadium.

In contrast, the U.S. team was greeted enthusiastically by the Chinese fans because of coach Jenny Lang Ping, a sports icon in China known as the “Iron Hammer” during her playing days with the Chinese national team because of her powerful spikes.

Bachman McCutcheon is the wife of Hugh McCutcheon, coach of the U.S. men’s indoor team.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

BEIJING | With President Bush and the first family looking on, the U.S. women’s basketball team began its quest for a fourth-straight gold medal with a 97-57 rout of the Czech Republic.

Diana Taurasi scored 13 of her 17 points in the first half to lead the United States.

The Americans got off to a slow start, trailing 13-2 giving up layup after layup to the feisty Czech team. Taurasi finally got the team rolling. Taurasi’s layup ignited a 20-4 run by the United States to close the first quarter.

WOMEN’S SOCCER

QINHUANGDAO, China | Midfielder Carli Lloyd scored on a first-half volley to lead the U.S. women’s soccer team to a 1-0 win over Japan and put the Americans’ Olympic title defense back on track at the Beijing Games.

The United States looked far from gold-medal form but did enough against a dangerous Japanese side to pick up a much-needed three points after dropping its opener against Norway.

The Americans created many scoring opportunities but were only able to capitalize in the 27th minute when Lloyd volleyed a cross from Stephanie Cox just under the crossbar.

GYMNASTICS

BEIJING | With chants and cheers initiated by their female teammates rocking the arena, the Chinese men’s gymnastics team lived up to the hype.

Touted as an overwhelming favorite to add Olympic gold to their three straight world championships, the Chinese used powerful performances on still rings and vault to soar to the top of qualification for Tuesday’s finals. They were trailed by Japan and Russia.

The United States, led by fist-pumping Jonathan Horton, finished atop its qualifying group and clinched a spot in the team finals.

The Americans are without any Olympic experience after twin brothers Paul Hamm, the reigning Olympic champion, and Morgan Hamm withdrew with injuries.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL

BEIJING | Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, the defending beach volleyball world champions and the overwhelming favorites to win gold, lost their opening match to a Latvian team that was seeded 23rd in the 24-team field.

Martins Plavins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs of Latvia won 21-19, 21-18 in the best-of-three set match.

The world’s top women’s team, Americans Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, had no such troubles in their opening match, beating the Japanese pair of Mika Saiki and Chiaki Kusuhara 21-12, 21-15.

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