U.S. basketball team tops Croatia in opener

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 The U.S. women’s basketball team looked nothing like the squad that is expected to dominant the Olympics.

Croatia's Iva Ciglar (bottom) goes for a steal against United States guard Diana Taurasi (right) in Saturday's game.  CHARLES KRUPA/ASSOCIATED PRESS
CHARLES KRUPA/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Croatia's Iva Ciglar (bottom) goes for a steal against United States guard Diana Taurasi (right) in Saturday's game.

Maybe it was first-game nerves or a hangover from the opening ceremonies. The U.S. had to overcome a sloppy performance Saturday before finally putting away Croatia 81-56 in the opener.

Coach Geno Auriemma had said he was hoping that the Americans could play a style of basketball that would be entertaining and help grow the women’s game internationally. That didn’t happen Saturday.

Women’s swimming

Natalie Coughlin is a perfect 12 for 12 in Olympic races. Only this time, she earned a medal without swimming in the final.

Coughlin tied Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres for most career medals by an American woman with 12 when the United States won a bronze in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay on Saturday night.

“I really have no idea what to think of it so far,” Coughlin said. “I’ll have to let that one sit and I’ll have to take it all in. I’m very proud of it, but I’ve never been on a morning relay before.”

She swam a leg in the preliminaries, helping the U.S. qualify second-fastest. But for the evening final, the Americans went with teenager Missy Franklin and Jessica Hardy, and brought back Olympic rookie Lia Neal and Allison Schmitt, leaving Coughlin to play cheerleader.

They finished in 3 minutes, 34.24 seconds, an American record.

Women’s beach volleyball

When temperatures dropped into the 60s for start of the first night session at Horse Guards Parade, the Olympic beach volleyball players said bye-bye to their bikinis.

Two-time defending gold medalists Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor of the United States wore long-sleeved shirts on top of bikini bottoms for their 21-18, 21-19 victory over Natalie Cook and Tasmin Hinchley, a match that started at 11 p.m. Saturday when the temperature was 63 degrees.

Boxing

Americans Joseph Diaz Jr. and Terrell Gausha posted impressive victories on the first day of the boxing competition.

Diaz looked sharp in a 19-9 victory over Ukraine bantamweight Pavlo Ishchenko in the tournament’s opening bout, while Gausha knocked down Armenian middleweight Andranik Hakobyan twice in the final 7 seconds of his middleweight bout, winning by stoppage with no time on the clock.

Georgian middleweight Merab Turkadze forfeited his evening bout after failing to make weight, allowing Algeria’s Amine Mohammed Ouadahi to win by walkover.

Table tennis

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates will be thrilled when they get the news: 16-year-old American Ariel Hsing is into the second round in Olympic table tennis.

She defeated Yadira Silva of Mexico in four straight games on the opening day. With none of the top 16 players and favored Chinese entering competition until the third round, Hsing made the most of her first Olympic appearance.

Buffett met Hsing when she was only 9 and two years later invited her to play against shareholders at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting. She returned earlier this year after winning a spot on the U.S. team and took a few points off Buffett and Gates.

Archery

Italy won the gold in the men’s team event, beating the U.S. by one point on the final shot. It was America’s first medal of the games.

Michele Frangilli, Marco Galiazzo and Mauro Nespoli hugged and raised their hands in celebration after the final arrow beat the U.S. 219-218 at Lord’s Cricket Ground. It was Italy’s first-ever gold in the event.

Rowing

The United States and Germany won heats in the blue-riband men’s eight, leaving a host of top crews to vie for places in the final.

Only one crew progresses from each heat. The Germans, unbeaten in three years, finished a half length ahead of Britain at Dorney Lake. Olympic champion Canada came in last in a race fit for the final.

The U.S. beat Australia by a half length to reach Wednesday’s final, which should be one of the regatta highlights.

Equestrian

Australia took the early lead in Olympic equestrian eventing at Greenwich Park, with Germany and the United States close behind.

Half the 50 riders rode their dressage test that starts the three-phase competition, which includes cross-country and show jumping.

In the individual competition, Germany’s Ingrid Klimke had a sparkling dressage test to score 39.3 penalty points, followed by teammate Dirk Schrade on King Artus with 39.8 and Mary King of Britain with 40.9 on Imperial Cavalier.

Several teams, including favorites Britain and New Zealand, did not have a complete rotation of three riders, so team standings are still preliminary.

American riders included Boyd Martin of Cochranville, Pa., scoring 50.7 penalty points on Otis Barbotiere; Karen O’Connor of The Plains, Va., earning 48.2 on Mr. Medicott; and Tiana Coudray of Ojai, Calif., with 52.0 on Ringwood Magister.

Fencing

Elisa Di Francisca completed an Italian sweep in the Olympics’ individual foil, winning the gold 12-11 in overtime against countrywoman Arianna Errigo.

Errigo beat three-time defending champion Valentina Vezzali 15-12 in the semifinals, denying her Italian teammate a chance to become the first female athlete to win individual gold at four consecutive Olympics.

The 38-year-old Vezzali won a tense battle for bronze, 13-12 against top-ranked Nam Hyun-Hee of South Korea.

Judo

Sarah Menezes of Brazil and Arsen Galstyan of Russia won the first two golds in the judo competition.

The second-ranked Menezes beat defending Olympic champion Alina Dumitru of Romania in the women’s 48-kilogram final. Galstyan defeated one of the 60-kg favorites, Hiroaki Hiroaka of Japan, for his first Olympic medal.

Shooting

South Korean marksman Jin Jong-oh won the 10-meter air pistol gold medal, improving on his silver in Beijing. Italian police officer Luca Tesconi won the silver, and Andrija Zlatic of Serbia took the bronze.

Top-ranked Yi Siling of China captured the first gold medal of the Olympics in the women’s 10-meter air rifle at Royal Artillery Barracks. Sylwia Bogacka of Poland took the silver for her first major medal, and Yu Dan of China went home with the bronze.

Badminton

Former champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia opened his last Olympics with a comfortable 21-8, 21-8 win over Petr Koukal of the Czech Republic in group play.

Other winners included European champion Marc Zwiebler of Germany, Son Wan-ho of South Korea, Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark, and Kevin Cordon of Guatemala, last year’s surprise world championship quarterfinalist in the same Wembley Arena.

In women’s action, gold medal contender Li Xuerui of China handled Claudia Rivero Modenesi of Peru 21-5, 21-6 in 22 minutes.

No. 6-seeded Juliane Schenk of Germany, Bae Yeon-ju of South Korea, Anastasia Prokopenko of Russia, Susan Egelstaff of Britain, Anu Nieminen of Finland and Neslihan Yigit of Turkey also won their group openers.

Handball

Defending champion Norway lost 24-23 to France in their Group B opener in women’s handball.

Three-time Olympic champion Denmark got a victory in Group B, edging Sweden 21-18.

Brazil, Russia, South Korea and Montenegro also won their matches.

Weightlifting

Wang Mingjuan of China won the first gold medal of the weightlifting competition, taking the women’s 48-kilogram title with a total weight of 205 kilograms. The four-time world champion dominated the competition.


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