Olympics roundup: Sun shines on U.S. beach volleyballers
August 22, 2008
BEIJING ” The weather was more like California than China, and Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser played like they were right at home Friday in the Olympic beach volleyball final.
In blazing sunshine at the Beijing Games venue several hundred kilometers away from a real beach, Rogers and Dalhausser won the gold medal by beating Fabio and Marcio of Brazil 23-21, 17-21, 15-4.
Rogers and Dalhausser must have enjoyed the warm weather. Dalhausser, although born in Switzerland, moved to Santa Barbara, California, when he was 1. Rogers was born there and lives nearby.
The closest real beach to the manmade Olympic facility is east of Beijing at Beidaihe on the Bohai Sea, which is best known as the Communist Party of China’s summer retreat.
Dalhausser blocked four straight Brazilian shots in the deciding set to turn it into a rout.
“When he gets on a roll, I just pull out my pompons and give a little cheer and keep smiling and clapping,” Rogers said. “That’s what good blockers do.”
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The American win came a day after Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor fought driving rain to win their second straight gold for the U.S. women.
“We’re in good company,” Rogers said.
The sunshine and high humidity posed more problems for the 50-kilometer walkers Friday, with Alex Schwazer of Italy taking men’s gold ahead of Jared Tallent of Australia in 30 degree C (85 degree F) temperatures.
Schwazer finished in 3 hours, 37 minutes, 9 seconds, taking 1:20 minutes off the 20-year-old Olympic record. Denis Nizhegorodov of Russia, the silver medalist from the Athens Games and world record holder, took bronze.
With two-thirds of the race gone, pre-race favorite Yohan Diniz of France stepped out with a hamstring injury and stomach pains.
“I just cracked mentally and physically,” Diniz said. “The conditions were very hard.”
World champion Maris Strombergs of Latvia won the gold medal in men’s BMX cycling, holding off Americans Mike Day and Donny Robinson for the title. Anne-Caroline Chausson of France took gold in the women’s race.
Six canoe and kayak finals were held, with Attila Vajda of Hungary winning the men’s 1,000-meter canoe single, Tim Brabants of Britain getting gold in 1,000 kayak and Germany, made up of Nicole Reinhardt, Fanny Fischer, Katrin Wagner-Augustin and Conny Wassmuth, winning the women’s 500 kayak four.
Martin Hollstein and Andreas Ihle of Germany won gold in the men’s 1,000 kayak double, brothers Andrei and Aliaksandr Bahdanovich of Belarus the men’s 1,000 canoe and another Belarussian crew ” Raman Piatrushenka, Aliaksei Abalmasau, Artur Litvinchuk and Vadzim Makhneu ” the 1,000 kayak four.
Off the competition fields, Lyudmila Blonska was stripped of her Olympic silver medal in the heptathlon for doping. The Ukrainian athlete was disqualified and kicked out of the Beijing Games by the International Olympic Committee after testing positive for a steroid after finishing second in the heptathlon.
She was temporarily suspended by the IOC on Thursday, and her medal was officially removed Friday. Blonska was also dropped from Friday’s long jump final.
Blonska faces a lifetime ban because it was her second doping offense. She is the biggest name among the five athletes who have tested positive so far at the games.
Also, questions were again asked over the ages of three Chinese female gymnasts. But the IOC said there was still no proof anyone cheated.
“We believe the matter will be put to rest and there’s no question … on the eligibility,” IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said. “The information we have received seems satisfactory in terms of the correct documentation ” including birth certificates.”
If the federation had found evidence that the gymnasts were underage, it could have affected four of China’s medals.
A gymnast must be 16 in an Olympic year to compete at the games. Questions about the ages of at least three of the athletes have persisted ” media reports suggest three Chinese gymnasts, He Kexin, Jiang Yuyuan and Yang Yilin, may be as young as 14.