DAY 1 OVERVIEW
American women’s fencers claim saber sweep
With Day 1 of the Beijing Olympics almost done, the U.S. medal count was nonexistent. Cuba, Uzbekistan and 16 other countries had bragging rights over the Americans. The closest thing to glory was a Colorado resident winning gold for the Czech Republic.
Then came some serious slicing and dicing at the fencing hall.
Thanks to a red, white and blue sweep by saber-swinging women, the U.S. not only landed on the chart, it came out smack dab on top with more medals than anyone else.
Americans Mariel Zagunis and Sada Jacobson advanced to the final in saber fencing, ensuring the U.S. a 1-2 finish. Then it was up to 18-year-old Becca Ward to win the bronze. She did, followed by Zagunis taking gold by beating Jacobson in the final.
China finished the day leading 2-1 in the gold race. It might’ve been 3-1 if not for Katerina Emmons, the Czech shooter who lives with her husband, American shooter Matt Emmons, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Emmons was the somewhat surprising winner of the first medal event of these Games, the 10-meter air rifle. Reigning gold medalist Du Li of China was the favorite, but she wound up fifth. If the China-U.S. gold chase winds up close, remember Katerina Emmons’ contribution
Emmons was on target from the start, shooting a perfect 400 in qualifying, then finishing with an Olympic record of 503.5.
Lioubov Galkina of Russia won the silver, and Snjezana Pejcic of Croatia took the bronze. Jamie Beyerle of Lebanon, Pa., finished fourth.
Shaken U.S. women’s team defeats Japan
Playing hours after learning about a deadly attack on the parents of a former player, the U.S. women’s team beat Japan, 3-1.
Todd and Barbara Bachman and their Chinese tour guide were stabbed at a Beijing tourist attraction. Todd Bachman died, and his wife suffered life-threatening injuries. The Chinese attacker then committed suicide, jumping off a 130-foot-high balcony at the attraction.
Todd and Barbara Bachman are the parents of former U.S. star Elisabeth Bachman McCutcheon.
The attack hit the U.S. men’s volleyball team, as well. Bachman McCutcheon is the wife of men’s coach Hugh McCutcheon.
Pang wins men’s 10-meter air pistol for China
Pang Wei handled the home country pressure just fine, easily outlasting two Koreans in the finals of the men’s 10-meter air pistol. When it was over, Pang — the 2006 world champion — turned around and waved his hat in the air as the home crowd cheered. Americans Jason Turner and Brian Beaman were fourth and fifth.
China’s Chen rules 48-kg division
Chen Xiexia, last year’s world champion in the 48-kilogram division, dominated competition from start to finish, lifting 210 pounds in the snatch and 258 in the clean and jerk.
By winning the second event of the Games, she earned the first medal of any shade for the host country.
American men clinch spot in team finals
The U.S. men finished atop their qualifying group with a score good enough to clinch a spot in the team finals. Even without injured stars Paul and Morgan Hamm, the Americans still have a shot at a medal — even if it’s a slim one.
"To make a major team personnel change, compete in the first subdivision and qualify for the team finals is a huge accomplishment, and we are looking forward to competing on Tuesday," U.S. coach Kevin Mazeika said.
China, winner of three consecutive world titles and a huge favorite, lived up to its billing by soaring to the top of the pack.
U.S. men’s duo upended in opening match
Being defending world champions, having won 21 straight international matches and getting a visit from President Bush did little for Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser. The Americans lost their opening match to a Latvian team that was seeded 23rd in the 24-team field, which means they must win their next two pool-play matches to get into the medal round.
Spaniard captures gold in men’s road race
Samuel Sanchez of Spain emerged from a sprint to the finish in the shadow of the Great Wall to win the men’s road race, a trek that covered 152 miles in hazy air.
Italy’s Davide Rebellin won silver on his 37th birthday, and Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara took the bronze. Levi Leipheimer was the top U.S. finisher, placing 11th.
Taurasi, Fowles lead U.S. past Czech Republic
Diana Taurasi scored 17 points and Sylvia Fowles added 16 points and 14 rebounds to send the U.S. women strolling past the Czech Republic 97-57 in front of President Bush and the U.S. men’s team. Next up for the Americans is host China.
WNBA star Lauren Jackson led medal favorite Australia with 18 points and 10 rebounds in an 83-64 victory over Belarus. Australia lost the last two Olympic finals to the United States but comes into the Beijing Games as the reigning world champion.
Lloyd’s goal lifts Americans over Japan, 1-0
So much for the U.S. women’s scoring drought. Midfielder Carli Lloyd scored on a first-half volley to lead the Americans past Japan 1-0 in their first game since a 2-0 loss to Norway.
The United States created a host of scoring opportunities but was able to capitalize only in the 27th minute, when Lloyd volleyed a cross from defender Stephanie Cox just under the crossbar. Goals are at a premium for this club with scoring leader Abby Wambach out with an injury.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS