Defending champions coast in beach volley opener
BEIJING (AP) The Brazilians lost their first set before figuring things out. Americans Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, the heavy favorites on the men's side, couldn't pull themselves together quickly enough and lost their Olympic debut to the No. 23 seed in the 24-team field.
Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor didn't need any time at all to get used to the Olympics.
The defending beach volleyball gold medalists easily won their opener in the Beijing Games on Sunday, beating Mika Teru Saiki and Chiaki Kusuhara of Japan 21-12, 21-15.
"We hadn't even seen center court yet," Walsh said. "We were excited to get the Olympics started."
In an intermittent rain that left the Chaoyang Park venue a sea of yellow ponchos, the Americans needed just 36 minutes to dispatch the 23rd-ranked Olympic veterans.
"We're in bathing suits," May-Treanor said, adding that the 87 percent humidity was more of a problem. "We're bound to get wet."
The victory came a day after President Bush watched May-Treanor and Walsh practice. But Saturday's biggest surprise at Chaoyang Park was the opening-game loss by Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers to a Latvian team that said going into the match it had "no chance."
"It just kind of reminded us that it's the Olympics, and everybody comes to play ball," Walsh said, although May-Treanor did not know of the upset until after their match. "You just have to go out there and play like you're playing the No. 1 seed every time."
Nor were the Americans distracted by the apparently random stabbing in Beijing of two Americans, the in-laws of U.S. men's coach Hugh McCutcheon and parents of former Olympian Elisabeth Bachman. Todd Bachman was killed and Barbara Bachman sustained life-threatening injuries.
U.S. Olympic officials met with the beach volleyball players and warned them about going out, reminding them that if they must they should avoid advertising themselves as Americans.
"I told my family that there's no need for that," Walsh said. "We have our patriotism (inside) our hearts."