- The Washington Times - Monday, August 11, 2008

DAY 2 RECAP

Bela Karolyi — let’s call him the Gymnastics Godfather — is in Olympic form, criticizing the Chinese for using female gymnasts he isn’t sure are teenagers. “They are using half-people,” Karolyi told the Associated Press. “One of the biggest frustrations is what arrogance. These people think we are stupid. We are in the business of gymnastics, and we know what a kid of 14 or 15 or 16 looks like. You don’t have to be a gymnastics coach to know what they look like [at] 16.” Rules state a competitor must be 16 during the Olympic year. Karolyi thinks some of the Chinese gymnasts are 12-14 years old.

• Despite shooting 7-for-29 from 3-point range, the U.S. men’s basketball team dispatched the Chinese in short order Sunday 101-70. Dwyane Wade led the United States with 19 points. Kobe Bryant recalled a message from President Bush before the game when the head of state told the team to “go out there and kick some butt.”

• Guo Jingjing and Wu Minxia of China won the first of what should be many diving medals. The Chinese could sweep all eight golds. The current world champions repeated as the female three-meter synchronized springboard competition Sunday, scoring 343.50 points. The second-place team from Russia scored 323.51. Americans Kelci Bryant and Ariel Rittenhouse missed a bronze medal by 4.5 points. The United States is looking for its first diving medal since 2000.

SUNDAY’S BEST

A day after the father-in-law of their coach was murdered at a Beijing tourist attraction, the U.S. men’s volleyball team squandered a 2-0 advantage against Venezuela before winning the fifth game 15-10. Coach Hugh McCutcheon did not attend the match so he could be at the hospital with his wife, who was uninjured in the attack. McCutcheon’s mother-in-law underwent eight hours of surgery and was listed in critical condition.

• With only four healthy competitors, the women’s gymnastics team overcame three mistakes to finish second to qualify for the team finals and a showdown against China on Wednesday. Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin were 1-2 in the all-around competition, and Alicia Sacramone is likely to qualify on vault. Injuries limited Samantha Peszek and Chellsie Memmel to just the uneven bars.

• The beach volleyball team of Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor began their gold medal defense with a 21-12, 21-15 victory over Mika Teru Saiki and Chiaki Kusuhara of Japan. Playing in on-and-off rain, Walsh and May-Treanor needed only 36 minutes to finish the match.

CHINA FACT OF THE DAY

Every college freshman must meet a minimal level of English comprehension, and it’s the only foreign language tested. The number of Chinese now studying English or speaking it is 200-350 million.

BLOG EXCERPT

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

The U.S. team captains vote for a Darfur sympathizer to carry the flag during the opening ceremonies, and the Chinese counter by butchering “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

During Michael Phelps’ first gold medal ceremony Sunday morning at the Water Cube, the anthem was bungled at the start and cut off at the end.

An international incident, perhaps?

Probably not but the folks better get the CD or whatever right because Phelps and his countrymen and women figure to be atop the medal stand plenty more this week.

HANDING OUT THE MEDALS

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

GOLD MEDAL

Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon, Thailand, weightlifting

You have a name like that and win a gold medal — as P.J. did in women’s 53-kilogram weightlifting — and our gold medal of the day is yours.

SILVER MEDAL

Tom Hoff, United States, volleyball

As the team captain, Hoff had to attend a postmatch press conference to answer questions about the slaying of coach Hugh McCutcheon’s father-in-law. Now that’s leadership.

BRONZE MEDAL

Amateur boxing

Before the games even started, Gary Russell Jr. dropped out after he struggled to make weight and became dehydrated. And now Samoan Farani Tavui was taken out of the ring on a stretcher Saturday. Not exactly a great start.

DON’T MISS THIS …

Three things from Beijing that are worth following Monday

1. MEN’S GYMNASTICS

The team finals are Monday night EDT. The United States needs a lot of things to go right in order to win a medal for the second straight Olympics. The United States stands in sixth place. China has a handle on gold (its lead is more than five points). The Americans are only 1.225 points behind third-place Russia.

2. MORE PHELPS

More swimming finals come Monday night EDT: The men’s 200 freestyle and 100 backstroke and women’s 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke. Michael Phelps will swim in the 200 free and a 200 butterfly semifinal.

3. LOCAL PLAYS BADMINTON

At some point during MSNBC’s 12 hours of coverage, former Gaithersburg resident Gao Jun will play a singles badminton match. She’s a former medalist for China in the event.

CLOSING LINE

“It’s as big a problem as the doping and more painful and even worse than cheating by doping.”

— Legendary gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi last week on China reportedly using under-age gymnasts

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