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Krayzelburg, Dolan swim for second individual gold at Olympics

September 20, 2000

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (TICKER) -- United States swimmers Lenny Krayzelburg and Tom Dolan go after their second individual gold medals. They might learn something from Australian Susie O'Neill's misfortune.

Just because you're the best in your particular specialty doesn't guarantee victory -- especially in the Olympics.

O'Neill, who won a gold medal in the women's 200-meter freestyle, was favored to win her second individual gold in her specialty, the 200 butterfly. She is so good at that event she has earned the nickname "Madame Butterfly."

But on Wednesday, O'Neill was beaten by American Misty Hyman, a late bloomer who did not even make the U.S. team four years ago.

Krayzelburg, who goes for the gold in the 200 backstroke Thursday (Wednesday night in the United States), and Dolan, who is the favorite in the 200 individual medley, had best be on their guard.

Aaron Piersol of the U.S. qualifed second in the 200 backstroke and could give Krayzelburg a battle for the gold.

"We bring out the best in each other, and I think it will be a great race," said Krayzelburg, who already has won the 100 backstroke.

Dolan, the 400 IM gold medalist, is a heavy favorite in the 200 IM, but Christian Keller of Germany and Massimiliano Rosolino of Italy will push him.

Swimming golds also will be contested Thursday in the women's 200 breaststroke and 100 freestyle. Agnes Kovacs of Hungary is favored to win the 200 breaststroke and Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands, who already has won the 100 butterfly in world-record time, is the favorite in the 100 freestyle, setting a world record of 53.77 seconds in the heats Wednesday.

Hyman's race struck another blow for American dominance in swimming as she defeated a pair of Australians and silenced the usually raucous crowd at the swimming venue.

Hyman won in 2 minutes, 5.88 seconds, nearly a full second ahead of O'Neill, who was beaten in the 200 butterfly in a major international competition for the first time since the 1994 World Championships.

O'Neill had won the 200 freestyle and is the world record holder in the 200 butterfly. She also gained a silver medal as part of the Australian team that was second to the U.S. in the 800 freestyle relay.

Australia's Petria Thomas was third, but it served as no solace to the hosts, who expected to use the Olympics as the event to supplant the Americans as the dominant country in swimming.

If de Bruijn wins Thursday, then the Netherlands also will have two double gold medal winners at the Games. Pieter van den Hoogenband won his second gold, dethroning two-time defending Olympic champion Alexander Popov of Russia in the 100 freestyle.

Medals also will be awarded Thursday in archery, cycling, fencing, skeet shooting, sailing, badminton, judo and gymnastics.

Although Hyman and cyclist Marty Nothstein were the only American individuals to collect gold Wednesday, most of the U.S. teams continued their winning ways.

The baseball team turned back Korea, the women's basketball team knocked off Russia, the women's soccer squad defeated Nigeria and the women's volleyball team topped Croatia.

But the U.S. women's softball team was beaten for the second straight day, losing to China, 2-0, in 14 innings. The Americans, whose 112-game winning streak was snapped by Japan on Tuesday, must now win their next three games in the round-robin tournament or face the possibility of not advancing to the medal round. Only the top four in the eight-team field will advance.

The U.S. squad faces another tough opponent Thursday in Australia. Lisa Fernandez, regarded as the best softball pitcher in the world, will pitch for the first time in the tournament. Fernandez pitched five consecutive perfect games during the U.S. team's summer tour.

The Aussies are tied with China for second in the standings, one game behind 4-0 Japan and one ahead of the U.S. and New Zealand.

The Americans just aren't hitting. They stranded 20 runners in the a 2-1 loss to Japan and 11 more in the loss to China.

The U.S. is 2-2 despite posting a 0.23 ERA, allowing only 11 hits and striking out 54 batters in 39 innings. Michele Smith struck out 21 in going all 14 innings against China but was the losing pitcher for the second straight day.

"We have to hit the ball and put it in play and wake up our bats and get going," Smith said. "I think we just need to be a little bit smarter when we're in the box and think about what our job is."

China, which has also been a problem for the U.S. soccer team the last several years, won't pose a roadblock this year. The Chinese, who battled the Americans to a goalless draw in the 1999 World Cup final before losing on penalty kicks, were eliminated with a 2-1 loss to Norway.

Meanwhile, the U.S. women beat Nigeria, 3-1, to advance to the semifinals.

The Norwegians appear to be the biggest obstacle to Team USA defending its gold medal. The Americans blanked Norway, 2-0, in the preliminary round.

While the Americans are faltering in softball, they are surprising in baseball. The U.S. is 4-0 and is one game ahead of international powerhouse Cuba, which suffered its first loss ever in Olympic competition when it was beaten by the Netherlands.

Cuba's run as king of the international diamond may be coming to an end.

After scrambling from a four-run deficit Tuesday to beat Korea, the Cubans had no such luck Wednesday as they absorbed a 4-2 loss to the Netherlands. The loss dropped the Cubans (3-1) one game behind the U.S., which used a grand slam by Doug Mientkiewcz to defeat Korea, 4-0.

In women's basketball, the Americans avenged their only Olympic loss since 1980 with an 88-77 victory over the Russians. Lisa Leslie scored 18 points and fellow WNBA star Yolanda Griffith added 16 and 11 rebounds for Team USA (3-0), which took control in Group B play.

Russia (2-1) dealt the U.S. its only loss in the semifinals in 1992 and went on to win the gold medal. The Americans won the gold in 1984, 1988 and 1996, going 25-0 in the process.

The U.S. men's basketball team is back in action Thursday against Lithuania.

Track and field competition will start in two days, but an expected 100-meter showdown between Americans Marion Jones and Inger Miller will not take place in these Games. Miller withdrew from the 100 today with a hamstring injury.

The world champion at 200 meters, Miller pulled out of the showcase sprint event in order to give her hamstring more time to heal before the 200 and the 400 relay.

"I have pulled out of the 100 because of a hamstring strain," Miller said. "I didn't want to jeopardize the whole event. It's getting better by the day and it was possible I would have been OK by Friday but I cannot risk it."

Miller's withdrawal ended her increasingly futile challenge of Jones' dominance at 100 meters. She finished second

Article originally located at Yahoo! News

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