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Published: Friday, 8/22/2008

U.S. women fall short of water polo gold

ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEIJING - The Netherlands against the United States and, you guessed it, more heartbreak for the Americans.

Danielle de Bruijn scored seven goals in her final Olympic game, including the winner with 26 seconds remaining for a 9-8 victory in the gold medal match of women's water polo. The Americans came back from a 4-0 deficit, but they couldn't stop De Bruijn.

"I face a knee surgery, and after that, I am retiring from international competition," she said. "It has been tough years and now I think I will do other things in my life besides water polo."

Bryan Clay of the United States led the decathlon after five events with 4,521 points, ahead of Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus, who had 4,433.

In other women's events, Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic threw the javelin 234-3 3/4 for the Olympic title, and Russia's Olga Kaniskina took the 20-kilometer race walk.

The "Iron Hammer" has calmly coached the U.S. women's volleyball team to its best Olympic finish in more than 20 years.

Jenny Lang Ping - who was a member of the Chinese team that beat the U.S. in the final of the 1984 Los Angeles Games - led the Americans to the title match with a three-set win over Cuba.

The U.S. will play Brazil tomorrow for the gold medal. The Americans haven't done better since that silver in 1984. They won the bronze in 1992.

Lang was nicknamed the "Iron Hammer" for her powerful spikes. But under her steady hand, the Americans improved to 6-1 in Beijing with the 25-20, 25-16, 25-17 victory over Cuba.

Diana Taurasi scored 21 points, and Tina Thompson added 15 to help the U.S. women pull away from Russia 67-52 to make the gold medal game against Australia, which routed China 90-56.

"We were ready for this test, and it was a test," U.S. point guard Sue Bird said. "They played a great game. Even when we weren't making our shots, they seemed to be making everything. We never got rattled. We stayed poised, and our defense really led us through this."

The U.S. had been averaging 99.2 points as they cruised through the first six games, winning by 43 points a contest.

China is 7-for-7 after Chen Ruolin rallied on her last dive to earn four 10s, winning the gold medal in women's 10-meter platform. Only one diving event remains: men's platform.

The 15-year-old Chen got out of the pool, bowed, and cried after she had nailed her last - and toughest - dive to beat Canada's Emilie Heymans.

"When I entered the water, I had a feeling that I was going to win," Chen said through a translator.

Chen totaled 447.70 points off the high board. China had not won the women's event since 1996.

In an entirely different water event in Beixiaoying Town, Dutchman Maarten van der Weijden skirted just inside the final red buoy to grab gold in the men's 10-kilometer open water race, completing a comeback after recovering from leukemia.

Van der Weijden won a three-way sprint in the inaugural event with a better-angled finish under a steady rain.

"I think the leukemia taught me to think step by step," Van der Weijden said. "When you're laying in the hospital bed and feeling so much pain and feeling so tired, you don't want to think about next week or next month, you're only thinking about the next hour.

"You just be patient. You lay in your bed and just wait. It's almost the same strategy I've used here, to stay in the pack, to be patient, and stay easy just waiting for your chance."

David Davies of Britain and Thomas Lurz of Germany settled for silver and bronze.

Two more Chinese boats qualified for the canoe/kayak finals, giving the country five chances at winning its second gold medal in the sport.

Zhong Hongyan won her 500-meter kayak single (K-1) semifinal in 1 minute, 53.163 seconds, while Li Qiang was third in the men's 500-meter canoe single (C-1) race in 1:52.887.

China already qualified three boats for the first day of finals today.

America won't be getting its first flatwater medal since 1992. Kayaker Carrie Johnson just missed the final in the 500 K-1 with a fourth-place finish, while Rami Zur had a sixth-place finish in the men's race.

The United States had its best showing ever in table tennis - thanks to a veteran of the Chinese national team who became an American citizen two years ago.

Wang Chen advanced to the quarterfinals by beating South Korea's Kim Kyung-ah. She then lost to Singapore's Li Jia Wei.

American Mark Lopez came within one kick - and one second - of winning gold.

South Korea, which has never failed to get at least a bronze in its native martial art, took the two taekwondo golds on the second day of competition, with Son Tae-jin scoring in the final second to send Lopez home to Texas with a silver.



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