- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2008

OTHER EVENTS

CYCLING

When: Aug. 8-13 (Individual time trials and road races, Road Cycling Course), Aug. 15-19 (Track, Laoshan Velodrome), Aug. 20-21 (BMX, BMX Venue) and Aug. 22-23 (Road, Laoshan Mountain Bike Course)

Events: Eleven for the men and seven for the women (all individual) in three disciplines

What happened in Athens: The United States won only one medal.

Outlook: The lack of success in 2004 should change this year thanks to an unretirement and the introduction of BMX. Donny Robinson, Mike Day and Kyle Bennett could go 1-2-3 (in any order) in the first men’s BMX race. But the road and track teams are also improved. Sarah Hammer has come out of retirement and is a contender in the 3,000-meter track pursuit, and Jennie Reed (sprint) is a world champion in another event. Kristin Armstrong is a candidate in the road race and road time trial. Also in road racing, Levi Leipheimer could make the medal stand in the individual road time trial. George Hincapie, 35, will appear in his fifth Olympics and compete in the road race.

Unknown fact: No sport at the Olympics has changed more in the last 12 years than cycling. In 1996, mountain bike racing was added along with the inclusion of professional cyclists. This year, BMX makes its debut.

DIVING

When: Aug. 8-23, National Aquatics Center

Events: The same four events for men and women - springboard, platform and synchronized springboard and platform

What happened in Athens: The United States failed to make the medal stand for the first time in 92 years.

Outlook: This will be a medal boon for the Chinese, who won six of the eight events in Athens and seven of the eight at last year’s world championships. On the U.S. team is veteran Laura Wilkinson, 30, competing in 10-meter platform for a third Olympics. She won the gold in Sydney. At the other end of the age spectrum is 15-year old Haley Ishimatsu, who will dive in two events. The men’s team has two medal contenders - Troy Dumais in springboard and the duo of Thomas Finchum and David Boudia in synchronized platform. They medaled in 10 straight international events from 2006-07. Boudia also will compete in individual platform, and he has increased his level of difficulty to put pressure on the favored Chinese.

Unknown fact: Veteran Chinese star Guo Jingjing, 27, is competing in his fourth Olympics. He’s the defending gold winner on springboard and hasn’t lost a major international meet since the 2000 games.

EQUESTRIAN

When: Aug. 9-21, Hong Kong Equestrian Venue

Events: Six gold medals will be awarded - two apiece (individual and team) in eventing, jumping and dressage

What happened in Athens: The U.S. mixed jumping team won gold, and two of the four riders - McLain Ward and Beezie Madden - are on the team this year. The eventing and dressage teams both won bronze medals. Chris Kappler won silver in jumping.

Outlook: Karen Lende-O’Connor, who lives in The Plains, Va., was a medal contender in eventing with Theodore O’Connor, but the pony was injured in a training accident earlier this summer and immediately euthanized. Madden is a medal contender in individual jumping, and the dressage and jumping teams also have a chance to make the podium. The team includes Phillip Dutton, who won two gold medals for Australia before moving to the United States and gaining citizenship. This is his first Olympics representing the United States.

Unknown fact: Every horse who is competing or is an alternate was quarantined in England for several weeks before being placed on one plane and flown to Hong Kong, which is 1,500 miles from Beijing.

FENCING

When: Aug. 8-17, Olympic Green Fencing Hall

Events: Three individual and two team competitions apiece for men and women

What happened in Athens: The U.S. women won their first Olympic medals. Sada Jacobson won bronze in individual sabre, and Mariel Zagunis won sabre gold. Italy’s combined seven medals led all nations.

Outlook: The United States has three medal contenders - Seth Kelsey in men’s individual epee and Jacobson and Rebecca Ward in women’s individual sabre. Kelsey, an Air Force Academy graduate, won gold at the Pan American Games. Italy is expected to win the men’s medal count competition. Jacobson consistently has been in the top six in sabre, and Ward won worlds in sabre two years ago, becoming the youngest fencing gold medalist (16 at the time). Zagunis joins Ward and Jacobson on the team, and the United States is expected to contend for team sabre gold.

Unknown fact: The fencing competition uses three types of swords - the foil (flexible rectangular blade), the epee (rigid triangular blade) and the sabre (flexible triangular blade).

FIELD HOCKEY

When: Aug. 8-23, Olympic Green Hockey Stadium

Events: Team tournaments for men and women

What happened in Athens: Australia scored the “golden goal” (sudden death) to beat the Netherlands 2-1 for men’s gold, and Germany won the women’s gold despite being outscored 11-8 in the tournament.

Outlook: The U.S. men will watch at home for the third straight games; the team has never won an Olympic match. Germany has defeated Australia in the last two major international tournaments. The Germans still had to qualify for Beijing after a fourth-place finish in the European championships last year. The U.S. women are in the games for the first time since 1996. Women’s coach Lee Bodimeade won silver with Australia in 1992 and, upon his appointment, moved the U.S. team from Southern California to Virginia Beach. Three former Maryland players (Lauren Powley, Dina Rizzo and Keli Smith) are on the U.S. team.

Unknown fact: From 1928 to 1960, the men’s team from India won 30 consecutive Olympic matches (six gold medals) before losing to Pakistan in the 1960 final.

- Ryan O’Halloran

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