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Athens Olympics Embrace Basketball, Tennis - 2004-08-15


Basketball and Tennis made their 2004 Olympic debuts in Athens Sunday. Medals were awarded in judo, weightlifting and shooting, while rowing world records fell. But the doping controversy surrounding two Greek athletics stars took another strange turn.

Spain's Pau Gasol won the battle against fellow National Basketball Association player Yao Ming of China, scoring 21 points to lead the Spaniards to an 83-58 win over China. Yao had 12 points and eight rebounds before fouling out with just over four minutes left in the game.

In other early matches, Italy held on for a 71-69 win over New Zealand, while Lithuania beat Angola 78-73. Manu Ginobili's last second shot gave Argentina an 83-82 victory over Serbia-Montenegro. Defending gold medalist and sixth-seed Venus Williams of the United States opened her 2004 Olympic tennis campaign with a 6-1, 6-2 over Melinda Czink of Hungary.

In other women's results, number-eight Ai Sugiyama of Japan, 10th-seeded Patty Schnyder of Switzerland and number-11 Francesca Schiavone of Italy won their matches.

In men's action, second-seeded American Andy Roddick's Olympic debut was a victory, as he edged Flavio Saretta of Brazil 6-3, 7-6. Other seeded winners included number-five Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain, 14th-seeded Nicolas Kiefer of Germany, and number-16 Fernando Gonzalez of Chile. But 11th-seeded Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina was upset by Max Mirnyi of Belarus.

China has broken a streak of Japanese gold medals in judo with a victory in the women's 52-kilogram category. China's Xian Dongmei needed less than two minutes to defeat Japan's Yuki Yokosawa in the final Sunday.

Xian is the first judo fighter from a country other than Japan to win a gold medal at this year's Olympics. Japan has won three judo golds overall, including today's triumph by Masato Uchishiba in the men's 66-kilogram category.

Udomporn Polsak has become the first Thai woman to win Olympic gold. She captured the top medal in the women's 53-kilogram weightlifting competition with a total lift of 222.5 kilograms. The reigning world champion lifted 97.5 kilograms in the snatch and 125 kilograms in the clean and jerk to claim the gold.

Rowers set three world records in the preliminary round Sunday. Australians Sally Newmarch and Amber Halliday completed the light double sculls in 6:49.90. An eight-woman American crew team set a record time of 5:19.85, while the men's eight posted a new record of 5:19.85.

Russian Alexei Alipov captured the gold medal in men's trap shooting. But two-time defending gold medalist Michael Diamond of Australia failed to qualify for the finals after finishing eighth in the qualifying rounds.

Meanwhile, Greek sprint stars Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou may not be healthy enough to appear at Monday's International Olympic Committee hearing into their missed drug tests. Neither runner could be found at the athletes' village Thursday, when they failed to take the mandatory tests. Both were later hospitalized after being injured in a minor motorcycle accident.

The Greek Olympic Committee already suspended Kenteris and Thanou pending the findings of Monday's disciplinary hearing. The IOC will decide whether to expel the pair from the Games.

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