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US basketball players visit The Great Wall

Aug. 11, 2008, 11:14 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) The U.S. Olympic basketball team was not the main attraction this time. The Great Wall has a way of humbling the mighty.

"I knew it would be an enlightening event, so I just had to go," Chris Bosh said. "It was excellent experience."

The team had a day off Monday after its 101-70 victory over China. Among those making the trip to the historic landmark were Bosh, Tayshaun Prince, coach Mike Krzyzewski, assistant coach Jim Boeheim, along with family and friends.

Following the game Sunday night, the squad got back to its hotel about 2 a.m. Buses left the hotel on the 90-minute ride to the Great Wall at 9 a.m. Bosh said this was something he wanted to do. Getting up early, however, is not his style.

"It was tough," he said. "I'm not going to lie."

The star power of the U.S. team was on display against Yao Ming and China in one of the most anticipated events at the Beijing Games. Bosh, along with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant led the dunkfest, wowing the crowd with high-wire performances and thunderous attacks on the rim. Bosh said he was asked about the game at the Great Wall.

"People are still talking about it, especially the Chinese people," he said. "That was like the event of all events and there still is a leftover buzz. A lot of people have texted me, telling me good game ... telling me they were proud of me. It was a lot of fun and we got to show a lot of people that we are really serious about our mission" to win the gold medal.

The U.S. squad plays Angola on Tuesday night in its second game of the preliminary round.

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AWAY FROM THE OFFICE: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates took in a little badminton on Monday.

Gates sat in the VIP seats at Beijing University of Technology Gymnasium with his wife, Melinda, and watched as China's Bao Chunlai defeated Guatemala's Kevin Gordon 21-17, 21-16 in the second round of men's singles.

"It was great, I was very impressed," Gates told reporters afterward.

Asked if he was a fan of the game, Gates said: "I am now."

Gates recently announced he was stepping back from daily operations at Microsoft to focus on his philanthropy.

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BALL BOYS: Working the security detail outside the Fengtai Softball Field can be hazardous.

A practice field next to the stadium borders West Fourth Ring, a busy boulevard where buses, taxis and cars fly by. As the U.S. team practiced on Monday, several foul balls were hit outside the fence and bounced into the traffic whizzing past.

The guards working outside had to run onto the road to retrieve the yellow projectiles, keeping one eye on the ball and the other at the oncoming vehicles.

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ROUGH RIDE: U.S. rider Karen O'Connor has been wearing a bracelet woven from tail hairs of her former eventing horse, Theodore O'Connor, who died earlier this year.

Known as Teddy, he was the gold medal winner at the 2007 Pan American Games and a pre-Olympics favorite. But in May, he spooked and broke free from his handler, then slashed his legs deeply while running back to the barn and had to be euthanized.

Teddy was just pony-sized and smaller than all the horses he beat. His unusual breeding was a cross of thoroughbred, Arabian and Shetland Pony.

"I'm missing Teddy," said O'Connor, 50, of The Plains, Va., who rode her young mount Mandiba on the Hong Kong eventing cross-country course Monday.

It didn't go well for Mandiba, who had a refusal at the ninth fence.

"He then became a lion," said O'Connor. "He gave me a fabulous ride."

O'Connor said she then took a chance to make up time at the next-to-last fence and Mandiba had another refusal on the tight turn. They finished the day in 54th place.

"I'm disappointed and frustrated, but what a horse for the U.S. in the future!" she said.

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DOPING: Spanish cyclist Maria Isabel Moreno was kicked out of the Beijing Olympics Monday after testing positive for EPO. She was the first athlete to fail a drug test during the official Olympic doping control period. That brings to 51 the number of athletes unable to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics because of doping cases.

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