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Kerri, May ‘serve’ up 2nd gold on sand

Kerri, May ‘serve’ up 2nd gold on sand

Posted: Thursday, August 21, 2008 4:26 pm

BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese and the wretched Beijing weather were no match for Misty May-Treanor and “Six Feet of Sunshine.”
May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won their second consecutive gold medal in beach volleyball Thursday, playing through a steady and sometimes driving rain to beat China in straight sets and extend their winning streak to 108 matches in a row.
“Ever since the ball dropped in Athens, we’ve wanted to repeat as Olympic champions,” May-Treanor said. “No one’s ever done it.”
No one’s ever won 14 consecutive Olympic matches before, either, sweeping away their opponents in both Beijing and Athens without losing a single set. The Americans beat Wang Jie and Tian Jia 21-18, 21-18 on Thursday, playing through smog and swelter and a drenching gold medal game to confirm their dominance of the sport.
“The rain makes it better. We felt like warriors out there,” Walsh shouted afterward, unable to contain the California girl enthusiasm that earned her the nickname “Six Feet of Sunshine.” “Athens was just pure excitement. The pressure of this situation is real, and it was heavy, and it was loud. And we beat China at home, under crazy conditions.”
Walsh’s bubbly smile couldn’t part the clouds that drenched the Chaoyang Park venue for the bronze- and gold-medal matches. It was no day to be at the beach — not for Wang and Tian, and not for the fans who huddled under pastel ponchos and umbrellas that, on a day more appropriate for sun and sand, would be used as parasols.
But the 12,200-seat venue was packed, the dancers in bikinis jiggled to rock music and the players pressed on without concern for the weather. The wet and heavy ball forced them to bump-set instead of doing it over their heads, and the sometimes driving rain made it difficult to look up to receive passes.
“I dreamt about rain last night,” Walsh said. “It could have been 500 degrees or 500 below, and we’d be happy.”
Earlier Thursday, in a matchup of the second-best teams from Brazil and China, Xue Chen and Zhang Xi won the host country’s first beach volleyball medal, beating Talita and Renata 21-19, 21-17 for the bronze.
Walsh put an early end to China’s hopes for adding a gold when she quick-hit May-Treanor’s pass between Wang and Tian. The Americans dropped to their knees on the wet sand, hugging each other before shaking hands with the officials and running to the stands to embrace their friends and families.
Otherwise, the Beijing Olympics will no longer be remembered only for what Michael Phelps did in the pool. Usain Bolt made sure of it on the track Wednesday.
Already the champion at 100 meters, Bolt whizzed through the 200, too, making him the first winner of both Olympic sprints since Carl Lewis in 1984.
Yet Bolt one-upped Lewis, Jesse Owens and the other guys who’ve pulled off the 100-200 double. The long, lanky, joyous Jamaican also set a world record in both races, and that’s never been done at an Olympics.
“I blew my mind,” said Bolt, “and I blew the world’s mind.”
So now it’s time for a new debate, sports fans. Which is more impressive: Phelps’ eight gold medals and seven world records or Bolt leaving no doubt that he’s the fastest man in the world, the fastest man ever?
Bolt’s victory made memorable a day that was supposed to be a bit of a lull before the big finish this weekend. Only 11 medals were decided, fewest since the first day of competition.
There was other notable news, though, like the U.S. softball and men’s basketball teams getting tested before moving closer to playing for gold. There also was the first-ever medal of any color at any Olympics for Afghanistan (a bronze in men’s taekwondo), the debut of BMX cycling and another doping case, this one involving a medal winner.
The first-ever BMX medal, however, will be postponed a day as heavy rain this morning forced a number of changes to the schedule. Olga Kaniskina of Russia flashed a huge smile as she won the women’s 20K race walk, a marked contrast to the competitors in the men’s javelin who struggled in slippery conditions.
The International Olympic Committee said it is investigating Ukraine’s Lyudmila Blonska. If found guilty of a doping offense, the 30-year-old Blonska would lose her silver medal in heptathlon and be expelled from the games.
Another piece of news is that these Summer Games are on pace to be the most-watched in history, a figure skewed by how many of China’s 1.3 billion residents were tuned in.
Then again, Phelps — and now Bolt — are making for must-see TV.
The United States still leads the medal count, up only 82-79 over China. The hosts bumped their gold count to 45, with a first-ever sailing victory joining the list.
China already has won more golds than the United States won when it hosted the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and has tied the number won by the Soviet Union in 1992. The Soviets won 55 in 1988, which is now within range for the Chinese, especially with 86 more golds to be decided through Sunday.
Track and field
Bolt needed only 19.30 seconds to go from start to finish and he made sure not to waste any time showboating.
Pushing with all he had in his favorite event, Bolt broke Michael Johnson’s mark that had stood since Atlanta by a mere 0.02, but his margin of victory — 0.66 — was the biggest ever in the Olympic 200.
Bolt is the ninth man to sweep the 100-200. But Bolt is likely more excited about being the first man to own the 100 and 200 world records since fellow Jamaican Donald Currie did it in the 1970s.

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