SYDNEY, Australia -- On a day when the U.S. baseball team made its Sydney debut with a victory, the Olympic news was captured in a linescore: No hits, a stirring run, and the end of an era.
The no-hitter belonged to U.S. softball pitcher Lori Harrigan, whose near-perfect game Sunday (Saturday night EDT) led the Americans past Canada 6-0 as her team opened its defense of the 1996 gold medal.
The run came from Canadian Simon Whitfield, who capped a grueling men's triathlon by sprinting to victory in the final 200 meters outside Sydney Opera House.
And the end of era was marked by the passing of IOC head Juan Antonio Samaranch's wife, who stood beside him during his 20-year reign atop the Olympic movement.
In the first Olympic men's triathlon, Whitfield survived a crash during the bike race, then summoned his energy for a medal-winning burst. Whitfield blew past silver medalist Stephan Vuckovic of Germany for the victory; the bronze went to Jan Rehula of the Czech Republic.
n SOFTBALL: Harrigan, who celebrated her 30th birthday earlier this month, blew away the Canadians to hurl the first solo no-hitter in Olympic history. Dot Richardson, Crystl Bustos and Jennifer Brundage all homered for the Americans.
Harrigan was a first-inning error away from a perfect game. After the mistake, she retired 20 consecutive batters for the dominating American team.
n BASEBALL: Mike Neill's no-doubt-about-it, two-run homer in the bottom of the 13th inning gave the Americans to a 4-2 victory over Japan in the longest Olympic baseball game. The blast by the obscure Olympian came four innings after a U.S. error in the ninth allowed Japan to tie the game at 2-2.
''All right, yea!'' shouted U.S. manager Tom Lasorda. ''That's No. 1!''
The two-time defending gold medalists, Cuba, pounded 18 hits in a 16-0 no-hit victory over South Africa. The game was stopped after seven innings due to the mercy rule.
n SAMARANCH: The flag in Sydney's Olympic Stadium will fly at half-staff for a day after the death of Samaranch's wife. Maria Teresa Salisachs-Rowe, 67 and reportedly suffering from cancer, died Saturday in Barcelona.
n WEIGHTLIFING: The Romanian weightlifting team was kicked out of the Sydney Games after two members failed pre-Olympic drug tests, giving the team three positives in a single year. International Weightlifting Federation rules require a suspension for any nation with three bad drug tests; another Romanian had failed a test earlier in 2000.
n SWIMMING: After picking up two gold medals in his Olympic debut, Australia's Ian Thorpe picked up where he left off by setting an Olympic best Sunday (Saturday night EDT) in the 200-meter freestyle.
A relaxed Thorpe, who already holds the world record in the event, qualified for the semifinals later Sunday; the finals were scheduled for Monday (Sunday night EDT). Three-time U.S. gold medalist Josh Davis placed fourth, the highest American finish.
A day earlier, the 17-year-old began his Olympic career with two gold medals while U.S veteran Jenny Thompson earned one in showing that swimming's old guard could keep pace with its new wave.
Five world records were set in the pool Saturday -- when only four finals were held.
Thompson, in her third Olympics, captured her sixth gold medal Saturday -- the most ever by a U.S. woman athlete. Before anchoring the winning 400-meter freestyle relay, she had shared the honor with skater Bonnie Blair.
Sandwiched around Thompson's record-setting effort were two gold medals for Thorpe, the 17-year-old Australian superswimmer. Thorpe, after breaking his own world record to win the 400-meter freestyle, anchored the Australian 400-meter freestyle relay to victory.
Thompson was part of a veteran squad that captured the first swimming gold for the Americans. She ripped off her cap and goggles and received pats on the head from teammates Amy Van Dyken, Dara Torres and Courtney Shealy.
The relay tied Thompson, who has never won an individual gold medal, with Kristin Otto of Germany for most golds by a female swimmer.
n WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Credit veterans Sheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslie with helping keep the defending gold medalist U.S. women's basketball team from losing its opener. With Swoopes scoring 29 points and Leslie adding 24 and 11 rebounds, America beat South Korea, 89-75.
The women played without sometime starter Chamique Holdsclaw, who was diagnosed with the beginning of a stress fracture in her right foot.
The WNBA All-Star will miss at least five games.
-- MEN'S SOCCER: For the second time in as many games, the U.S. soccer team was fit to be tied. After a 2-2 deadlock with the Czech Republic in their opener, the men came back Saturday for a 1-1 tie with Cameroon in a game where they missed several chances to take the lead.
The U.S. goal was scored by Pete Vagenas on a second-half penalty kick. The Americans will need a win in their third and final preliminary game to advance into the second round for the first time.
-- MEN'S GYMNASTICS: A gutsy effort by veteran John Roethlisberger helped vault the Americans into Monday's finals. The U.S. finished fourth, and the top six teams made the final round. Defending gold medalist Russia finished on top.
-- BOXING: Make it three straight wins for the U.S. boxers. David Jackson, fighting at 132 pounds, pounded out a 19-7 victory over Naoufel Ben Rabah. It was a particularly satisfying victory for Jackson, who returned to the sport this year after two years off.
-- CYCLING: It was just the wrong season for Chris Witty, who failed in her bid to become the fourth person to win medals at the Summer and Winter Games.
The American speedskater, who won a pair of medals in 1998 at Nagano, did not fare as well in her cycling bid in Sydney. Despite a personal best, she finished fifth in the women's 500-meter time trial as world champion Felicia Ballanger of France won the gold medal.
-- WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: The United States, led by 19-year-old Logan Tom, upset China 3-1 in a first-round women's match. The Americans recovered from a slow start to win 19-25, 25-21, 25-12 and 26-24.
-- WATER POLO: At age 39, Maureen O'Toole was the oldest women on the U.S. water polo team. But the veteran was feeling just like a kid after scoring the go-ahead goal in the Americans' 6-4 victory over World Cup champ Netherlands as women's water polo made its Olympic bow.
Peninsula Clarion ©2014. All Rights Reserved.