ATHENS, Greece They are America's newest golden girls powerful and just a shade from perfection.
The U.S. softball team won its third straight gold medal with an unprecedented and nearly unblemished romp through the Olympics, capped by a 5-1 victory Monday over an Australian team, that, like the rest of softball's elite, never had a chance.
The Americans zeroed in on a gold medal, and were four outs from a tournament-long shutout before the Aussies scored a run the first given up by the U.S. pitching staff in 54 2-3 innings.
One minor flaw on an otherwise perfect run on the game's grandest diamond.
Women's softball has never been played better.
Lisa Fernandez pitched a four-hitter and Crystl Bustos homered twice in the Americans' best all-around game of the tournament. Under the burning Greek sun and in swirling wind, the U.S. team pounded three home runs off Aussie ace Tanya Harding.
They moved over runners. They played stingy defense. They did everything right while thrilling 5,000 fans unlikely ever to see a team as good as this red-white-blue Dream Team of power and speed.
These Yankees, minus the payroll and pinstripes, were simply awesome.
Bustos homered twice off Harding, and the United States completed a three-game sweep of the silver medal-winning Aussies, the only team in the same class as the Americans in these games.
The United States outscored Australia 20-1 in the three-game sweep and finished the nine-game tournament by outscoring the field 51-1. The run total was just one of more than a dozen Olympic records that fell to the mighty U.S. squad.
United States 2, Germany 1, OT
Brazil 1, Sweden 0
IRAKLION, Greece Minutes after missing a wide open net, Heather O'Reilly scored in the ninth minute of overtime to give the United States a 2-1 victory over World Cup champion Germany and a place in Thursday's gold-medal game.
The Americans will face Brazil for the gold. Brazil defeated Sweden 1-0 in Patras in the other semifinal on a goal from Pretinha in the 64th minute. Germany will play Sweden for the bronze.
Mia Hamm set up the goal with a short cross from the right, pushing back the pass toward a cluster of three players about 6 yards from the net. O'Reilly, the only teenager on the team of U.S. veterans, got her foot on the ball, pushing a shot to the left of goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg.
The win gives the Fab Five long-standing U.S. stars Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Brandi Chastain and Kristine Lilly a chance to go out as champions in their final tournament together.
Track and Field
ATHENS, Greece The United States swept the medals in the men's 400 meters with Jeremy Wariner of Grand Prairie, Texas, leading the way in 44.00 seconds. Otis Harris of Columbia, S.C., was second in 44.16 while Derrick Brew, of Raleigh, N.C., took the bronze in 44.42.
Hungary's Robert Fazekas won the discus with an Olympic-record toss of 232 feet, 8 inches (70.93 meters), beating the past two gold medalists.
Lithuania's Virgilijus Alekna, the defending champion, settled for the silver after never improving on his opening toss of 229-3 (69.89). Hungary also won the bronze: Zoltan Kovago went 219-11 (67.04).
Fazekas broke the Olympic discus mark of 227-8 (69.40), set by Germany's Lars Riedel in winning the gold at Atlanta in 1996. Riedel, the silver medalist in 2000, did not make the final group Monday.
Frangoise Mbango Etone of Cameroon won the gold with a triple jump of 50 feet, 2 1/2 inches (15.30 meters). Chrysopigi Devetzi of Greece won the silver medal. Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia got the bronze.
Kelly Holmes of Britain won the gold medal in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:56.38. Hasna Benhassi of Morocco won the silver in 1:56.43, while Jolanda Ceplak of Slovenia took the bronze with the identical time, 0.08 seconds ahead of Maria Mutola of Mozambique in fourth.
Athanasia Tsoumeleka of Greece won the gold medal in the 20-kilometer walk, holding off Olimpiada Ivanova of Russia in a personal best of 1:29.12. Jane Saville of Australia, disqualified after leading as she approached the stadium in Sydney four years ago, took bronze.
Meseret Defar of Ethiopia won gold in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 14 minutes, 45.65 seconds. Isabella Ochichi of Kenya won the silver in 14:48.19 seconds. Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia took the bronze.
After the first day in the decathlon, Dmitriy Karpov of Kazakhstan leads with 4,689 points, while Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic is second with 4,594. Bryan Clay of Azusa, Calif., is third, followed by Britain's Dean Macey and Tom Pappas of Knoxville, Tenn., the reigning world champion.
Allyson Felix led three American women into the next round of the 200 meters. Teammates Muna Lee and LaShaunte'a Moore also advanced.
Homer's Tela O'Donnel, top, reacts as she defeats Olga Smirnova, from Russia, during the women's pool elimination freestyle (55kg) wrestling event at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Sunday. O'Donnell was eliminated from the competition Monday.
AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan
ATHENS, Greece Sara McMann couldn't hold an early lead in her 138 1/2 pounds (63kg) gold medal match with world champion Kaori Icho of Japan and lost 3-2 Monday, meaning the United States exited the debut of Olympic women's wrestling without any golds.
The Americans, who had four world silver medalists last year, came away with only two medals: McMann's silver and Patricia Miranda's bronze at 105 1/2 pounds (48kg).
Both U.S. wrestlers who failed to advance from their pools Sunday also lost in the consolation round. Tela O'Donnell, of Homer, was beaten 10-7 by Mabel Fonseca of Puerto Rico at 121 pounds (55kg) to finish with a 1-2 record.
Toccara Montgomery, who with Miranda was given America's best chance of winning a gold in Athens, lost 8-3 to Canada's Christine Nordhagen at 158 1/2 pounds (72kg).
ATHENS, Greece Russia's Irina Korzhanenko was stripped of her shot put gold medal, the first athlete of the Athens Games to lose an Olympic title because of doping.
The 30-year-old Korzhanenko was the first woman to win a gold medal at the sacred site of Ancient Olympia but tested positive for the steroid stanozolol after Wednesday's competition. The backup B sample confirmed the initial finding.
ATHENS, Greece Three quick races, about 40 seconds of hard pedaling time, and it was all over for U.S track cyclist Jennie Reed, who was eliminated from the opening rounds of the sprint competition.
She finished second in the consolation race, placing her 10th in a 12-woman field.
ATHENS, Greece American sailors John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree held onto their lead in the Tornado catamaran class and Paul Cayard jumped up three spots in the Star class on another bizarre afternoon on the Saronic Gulf.
Men's Water Polo
Serbia-Montenegro 9, U.S.A. 4
ATHENS, Greece Hungary finished preliminaries unbeaten and secured an automatic semifinal place in Olympic water polo by edging Russia in a rematch of the Sydney 2000 final.
Aleksander Sapic scored three goals to lead Serbia-Montenegro to a win over the United States, ending American hopes of making the Olympic quarterfinals. The United States finished 2-3 after opening with wins against Croatia and Kazakhstan.
United States 3, Brazil 1 (25-22, 25-23, 18-25, 25-22)
ATHENS, Greece The United States beat Brazil, the No. 1 team in the world, in a match where both teams used their reserves exstensively. Both teams had already clinched spots in the next round. The Americans finished pool play at 3-2, winning a tiebreaker over Russia for third place, and will face host Greece in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
ATHENS, Greece Misty May and Kerri Walsh beat fellow Americans and friendly rivals Holly McPeak and Elaine Youngs 21-18, 21-15 in the semifinals.
The No. 1 Americans will play for the gold Tuesday against second-seeded Brazilians Shelda Bede and Adriana Behar, who defeated Australians Natalie Cook and Nicole Sanderson 21-17, 21-16.
ATHENS, Greece Russia and Japan held down their customary 1-2 spots, and the United States was in third after the duet technical routine of synchronized swimming.
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