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Olympic spirit gets black eye

The first week of the Beijing Olympics overflowed with love, unity and sportsmanship.

Finally, reality set in.

A boxer chomped on the shoulder of an opponent Tuesday, a day after the United States-China baseball game was highlighted by a Pete Rose-like takeout at the plate, a beaning and several ejections.

Light heavyweight boxer Dzhakhon Kurbanov of Tajikistan was disqualified for biting Kazakhstan’s Yerkebulan Shynaliyev on the shoulder in the third round of their quarterfinal bout.

Shynaliyev led 12-6 at the time. Kurbanov, 22, had been warned multiple times for shoving and holding his opponent.

Strangely enough, the fight at Workers’ Gymnasium was attended by former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, who was famously chomped on the ears by Mike Tyson in their June 1997 fight at the MGM Grand.

U.S. baseball’s 9-1 win over China on Monday looked more like a sandlot game than an Olympic one.

Tempers began to flare when U.S. outfielder Matt LaPorta barreled into China’s top player, Wang Wei, in the fifth inning, knocking the catcher out of the game with a left knee injury.

In the next inning, another American baserunner, Nate Schierholtz, made a hard slide against China’s backup catcher, Yang Yang.

When LaPorta came to bat in the eighth, he was nailed in the back of the helmet by pitcher Chen Kun, who was ejected. LaPorta suffered a mild concussion.

China manager Jim Lefebvre and U.S. manager Davey Johnson — both former big league skippers — also were tossed, along with one of Johnson’s assistants, Steve Ontiveros.

Should the finalists in women’s beach volleyball be warned not to kick sand in their opponents’ faces?

• GETTING BEACHED — Americans Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, trying to repeat as Olympic champions, will face China’s Jie Wang and Jia Tian in the beach volleyball final.

It is a demanding sport played by highly skilled athletes. But is women’s beach volleyball featured on prime-time NBC telecasts simply because its contestants are tall and slender and play in bikinis?

We wonder. We watch, but still we wonder.

• FORTYSOMETHINGS — First, swimmer Dara Torres made people 40 and older proud when she won silver in the 50-meter freestyle. The 41-year-old, competing in her fifth Olympics, missed gold by one-hundredth of a second.

Then on Tuesday, 43-year-old Argentine cyclist Juan Curuchet won gold with teammate Walter Perez in the men’s madison.

It was Curuchet’s first Olympic medal in six Games dating to 1984 in Los Angeles.

The madison is a 200-lap, two-man race in which teams collect points in sprints held every 20 laps. One rider from each nation races on the track at a time.

“Before getting here, I told God, ‘If you really exist, give me a proof,’ and he gave it to me,” Curuchet said.

COMPILED BY JEFF WOLF REVIEW-JOURNAL

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