- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 6, 2008


When: Aug. 9-15, University of Science and Technology Beijing Gymnasium

Events: Seven weight classes apiece for men and women

What happened in Athens: The United States has never won a gold medal in judo. The men’s best finish in 2004 was fourth, and the women didn’t place a competitor in the top eight.

Outlook: Ronda Rousey (154-pound division) is the best medal hopeful for the U.S. team based on her silver medal performance at last year’s world championships. She finished ninth in Athens as the youngest person in the competition. Valerie Gotay (125-pound division) is back at the Olympics for the first time in 16 years. The 34-year old mother remained retired for more than a decade. Ryan Reser was an alternate on the last two Olympic teams, but his resolve has paid off with a spot in the 161-pound tournament.

Unknown fact: There are 27 different throws and seven kinds of holds in judo. Athletes can score 10, seven, five or three points with a maneuver.


When: Aug. 21-22, Fencing Hall and Olympic Sports Center

Events: Individual competition for men and women

What happened in Athens: Russia’s Andrei Moiseyev, a policeman by day, won gold by only 12 points. Hungary’s Zsuzsa Voros won by 68 points.

Outlook: The competition consists of shooting, fencing, swimming, riding and cross-country running — all in a span of 12 hours on a single day. U.S. competitor Sheila Taormina, 39, who is a former Olympic gold medalist in swimming and a two-time Olympian in triathlon, will become the first woman ever and first athlete since 1928 to compete in three sports at the games. Taormina ranked ninth at last year’s world championships. The women’s favorite is Aya Medany of Egypt, who finished 28th in Athens at age 15. The two men’s competitors for the United States are Eli Bremer and Sam Sacksen. Bremer goes from the broadcast booth to the playing field. His uncle is Paul Bremer, who served as the United States’ chief envoy to Iraq following the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Unknown fact: The modern pentathlon is joining baseball and softball as sports that will be removed from the Olympic program in London. It is eligible to be voted back in for the 2016 games.


When: Aug. 9-17, Shunyi Olympic Park

Events: Eight races for the men, six for the women

What happened in Athens: The U.S. team won medals in both the men’s and women’s eights. The men set a world record in the heats and then ended a 40-year gold medal drought. The women’s eight ended a 20-year drought by winning silver.

Outlook: The American’s best medal chances are again in the eights, but Canada and Great Britain also will be under consideration for gold. Locally, McLean’s Sam Stitt (quadruple sculls), Potomac’s David Banks and Annandale’s Giuseppe Lanzone (men’s four) are making their Olympic debuts. Charlotteville’s Lindsay Shoop is on the women’s eight team — winner of the last two world championships — that will challenge Romania and Canada. Anna Cummins and Portia McGee could medal in pairs without coxswain. Michelle Guerrette is only the second U.S. woman to win at least two single sculls medals at the world championships or Olympics, both bronzes at worlds.

Unknown fact: In races with coxswains, the person must weigh at least 121 pounds for men’s races and 110 pounds for women’s races. If the coxswain doesn’t meet the requirement, officials add dead weight to the boat.


When: Aug. 9-21, Qingdao International Marina

Events: Four individual competitions for both men’s and women’s and three mixed events

What happened in Athens: The U.S. team of Paul Foerster and Kevin Burnham captured gold in Greece. Twenty countries medaled in the 11 events, led by Great Britain with five.

Outlook: The only U.S. sailor with local ties is Andrew Campbell in laser. A New Jersey native, Campbell, 24, was a three-time All-American at Georgetown and has competed in five world championships. The best U.S. medal hope is Anna Tunnicliffe in laser radial. Born in England, Tunnicliffe has finished in the top six of the last four world championships. She attended Old Dominion in Norfolk. Early projections have Australia as the favorite to win the medal count.

Unknown fact: Each competition consists of 10 attempts. Upon conclusion, competitors can drop their worst score.


When: Aug. 9-16, Beijing Shooting Range

Events: Nine men’s and six women’s individual competitions

What happened in Athens: Russia led the combined medal total with 18. The United States captured three men’s and two women’s medals. Kim Rhode won her second gold medal (double trap), and Matt Emmons won his first (50-meter rifle, prone).

Outlook: On the men’s team, Emmons, who was second at last year’s World Cup final, returns to defend his gold medal. Emmons also will compete in 50-meter 3-position. Bret Erickson, 47, will compete in his fourth Olympics (trap shooting). A U.S. Army veteran, he retired in 2004, competed in Athens with a pacemaker and was second in a World Cup event this year in Beijing. Also in medal contention are Glenn Eller (double trap) and Vincent Hancock (skeet). Rhode is making her fourth Olympic trip but can’t defend her double trap gold because the event has been axed from women’s program. She will compete as a long shot in skeet.

Unknown fact: Shooting is one of the four obscure sports targeted by Chinese officials to attempt to dominate. China could win 12 of the 15 available gold medals.

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