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Athletes' village has back-to-school feeling

Aug. 12, 2008, 8:33 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Living in the athletes' village makes American hurdler and gold medal contender Lolo Jones feel like a freshman again.

"I can go to any track meet anywhere around the world and know 90 percent of the athletes," said Jones, the reigning world indoor champion in the 400-meter hurdles. "Here, I feel like a nobody, because I don't know anybody."

After all, more than 10,000 Olympians are competing at the Beijing Games.

"It's like that first-year awkwardness all over," she said of her new digs.

Jones is still astonished by who she might bump into - the other day she met guard Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets.

"It's like my eyes were popping out of my head those first couple of days," she said. "You're not used to seeing boxers or baseball players, you're not used to having so many people in the cafeteria going to eat. It's fun, but different."


BIG BROTHER: She's famous in her own right, but Canadian softball pitcher Lauren Bay Regula has a major league sibling.

Her older brother, Jason Bay, is an outfielder for the Boston Red Sox. He previously played for the Pittsburgh Pirates but was traded to Boston recently in the deal that sent All-Star slugger Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Bay Regula, who pitched five one-hit innings to lead Canada to a 6-1 tournament-opening win over Taiwan on Tuesday, remembers being stunned when she heard her brother was on the move.

"I was like, 'Wait, Jason is playing left field for the Boston Red Sox? Didn't Manny Ramirez used to play there?' It's been really cool," she said.

The left-hander has an Olympic pedigree as well. Her great uncle, Gerry Moro, was a three-time Olympian in the decathlon.

Bay Regula, who celebrated her 27th birthday while in China, plans to keep her brother posted on Canada's games in the tourney.

"Hopefully he'll be able to see us play sometime," she said.


AGUERO'S RETURN: Taismary Aguero returned to the Italian women's indoor volleyball team after the death of her mother in Cuba.

Aguero, who was born in Cuba but was granted Italian citizenship last year, originally left Beijing for Cuba last week upon word her mother was ill. When it appeared she was denied a visa, she flew from Germany to Beijing to return to the Olympics.

She then found out she would be granted a visa and left for Cuba again, according to reports. The Italian Olympic committee then announced the death of her mother, Dolce Fedora, 61.

Aguero missed the Italian team's opener, but played for a time in Italy's 3-0 victory over Kazakhstan on Monday. She had five points.

"Aguero came back and she has participated in training sessions," coach Massimo Barbolini said. "Of course, she is facing difficulties, psychological and physical, because she has spent so much time on planes and is very tired. But she is recovering her rhythm and balance quickly."

The Italians are 2-0 in preliminary pool play and face Algeria on Wednesday.

Aguero played for the Cuban national team in the 1990s before leaving for Italy in 2001. She is a veteran of the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

"Aguero is an excellent player and courageous in facing the loss of her dear mother," Barbolini said.