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Paralympic Games Update Day 4

Sept. 09, 2008, 5:13 p.m. (ET)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 Beijing, China

For more information on the U.S. Paralympic Team, please check www.usparalympics.org and www.usocpressbox.org.

Sport Reports

Archery

Jeff Fabry (Tulare, Calif.) finished second in his category; he will not compete tomorrow but earns a free pass to the 1/8 eliminations, also known as a "bye," on Thursday.

U.S. archers T.J. Pemberton (Moore, Okla.), Eric Bennett (Surprise, Ariz.), Lindsey Carmichael (Lago Vista, Tx.), and Chuck Lear (Lee's Summit, Mo.) were all ranked in the top 20 of their categories by the end of the morning.

Four members of the U.S. archery team made their Paralympic Games debut. They include Joe Bailey (Flushing, Mich.), who finished 6 out of 20 in today's ranking rounds, Bennett, T.J. Pemberton (Moore, Okla.), and Russell Wolfe (Williamsburg, Va.).

Bailey's 6th place finish in the debut of the Men's individual Compound Open category earned him a bye for the 1/16th eliminations, a day off until the 1/8th eliminations on Thursday.

"This is the first time this division has been allowed [in the Paralympics]. I just shoot, sleep and eat archery; I'm the Michael Phelps of archery," Bailey said.

Athletics

Day two of track & field competition was a day of highs and lows. The highs came in the form of two medals: silver and bronze. Jerome Singleton (Irmo, S.C.) ran 11.20 in the men's 100m (T44) to claim silver, just three-tenths of a second behind gold medalist Oscar Pistorius from South Africa.

"It was a great race," said Singleton, whose performance was a personal best. "I didn't realize how quickly Oscar could accelerate like he did, and he got me there at the end. It felt great. I never thought I would medal in the Paralympics; there are so many strong competitors in our class, but today I got silver - it's amazing."

U.S. teammate and silver medalist from the 2004 Paralympic Games Brian Frasure (Apex, N.C.) clinched the bronze in 11.50m.

And now for the lows. U.S. teammate Marlon Shirley (Chula Vista, Calif./Tremonton, Utah), the world record holder in the men's 100m (T44), suffered a partially torn Achilles tendon midway through the race, taking him out of the event and the rest of Paralympic competition.

Two-hundred meter world record holder (T44) April Holmes (Chula Vista, Calif./Somerdale, N.J.) also saw misfortune in her event. After taking the turn in the 200m and heading down the straight away toward the finish, Holmes lost her balance after catching her spike on the track surface. She violently crashed onto the ground and fell out of her lane, resulting in her disqualification and a gash on her head.

"I have five stitches in my eyelid now, but I'm determined to get back out there and run my race in the 100m," said Holmes. "I was pleased with how I ran the 200m, and I'm still not sure exactly what happened. Now I'm just focusing on my next race."

Cycling

Karissa Whitsell (B&VI/Eugene, Ore.) holds the current world record and Paralympic record in the Women's Individual Pursuit (B&VI). But today's bronze medal performance with new pilot Mackenzie Woodring (Pilot for Whitsell/Grand Rapids, Mich.), was almost as exciting as winning any gold medal in the past.

"I feel like winning the bronze was like winning the gold with all things considered," said a jubilant Whitsell. "We still have our best events to come so we are really excited."

In the qualification round of the event, Whitsell and Woodring posted a time of 3:42.237, five seconds faster than the fourth place finish and enough to get them into the bronze medal race.

In the finals of the Individual Pursuit, Whitsell and Woodring did not disappoint and posted a time of 3:41.521 to secure the bronze medal and take their place on the podium stand.

"Being able to mix it up with the other competitors, knowing the caliber of those athletes was great," added Woodring, relishing in her first opportunity to be on the Paralympic medal stand. "It went very well and we were definitely smooth together."

In other races, Anthony Zahn (LC4/Riverside, Calif.) posted a time of 4:27.048 in the Men's Individual Pursuit (LC4) qualification round, but did not make it to the finals. Mike Farrell (CP4/Colorado Springs, Colo.) also competed in the 1 Km Time Trial (CP 4) and finished with a time of 1:17.594.

Goalball

U.S. Men's Goalball won 6-4 over Brazil. This is the team's first win since arriving in Beijing and an important one since losing to China (2-13) and to Canada (2-8).

"We're very happy; it was a good win," said assistant coach Michael Lege (Elkton, Fla.). "We still have some things to work on, but this has improved the whole demeanor of the team. There was a lot of support from the crowd, and the team knew this was it; we had to win today."

This victory enables the U.S. team to move forward in the preliminaries. They will face off with Iran at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

The top four teams after pool play advance to the semifinal and final rounds on Sept. 14. All games will be played at the Beijing Institute of Technology Gymnasium.

Meanwhile, U.S. Women's Goalball lost their first game to China 4-0 and will face Brazil at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

Judo

The last day of judo on Tuesday wrapped up competition at the Beijing Workers' Gymnasium with a bronze medal for the United States.Greg De Wall, +100kg (Chico, Calif.) led first on mat 2 against Yargaliny Jimenez of Cuba, who won gold at the 2006 IB Judo World Championships in Brommat, France.

De Wall, who won silver at the 2006 Parapan American Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, overpowered the Cuban in 41 seconds with a full ippon.

As he left the mat, he shouted, "That felt great!"

In his second match against Song Wang of China, De Wall lost to a clearly larger Wang who scored a waza-ari(half point), a yuko (quarter point), and a koka (eighth point) to secure the win.

In the finals, De Wall first faced Alexander Parasyuk of Russia, overpowering the Russian with an ippon. For the bronze medal, De Wall faced Korea's Jung-Min Park, and late in the match Park's face began to bleed. Medical assistance could do little to stop it, so the referee called the match with 12 seconds left and awarded the win to De Wall, resulting in the bronze medal.

Facing 2007 Parapan American gold medalist Maria Del Herrara of Spain for her first match, Jordan Mouton, -70kg (Houston, Texas) knew it would be a tough fight. She did, in fact, lose to an ippon, but moved forward to face Nikolett Szabo of Hungary in her second fight, when she took early control of the match but couldn't hold onto two possible pins.

Szabo overcame Mouton with an ippon, ending the match and forcing Mouton out of competition.

Myles Porter, -100kg (Colorado Springs, Colo./Fremont, Ohio) faced a known opponent in Antonio Silva of Brazil, who is a three-time Paralymplic gold medalist. After Porter received a shido, or penalty, Silva scored a koka and then an ippon against Porter, who lost the match.

"We know each other well," said Porter, "and he just kept blocking me."

But Porter moved forward in a fight against Iran's Hamzeh Nadri, and with renewed determination, he scored a full ippon, dislocating Nadri's arm, to win the match.

"The second match felt good, and I just need to be crisp on my attacks," he said referring to his upcoming match against Bill Morgan of Canada.

"Some say it's harder to fight for bronze than gold."

But in the finals Porter clearly dominated the match with Morgan and scored two waza-aris, equivalent to an ippon, and won the match moving into bronze medal contention against Cuba's Juan Carlos Cortada.

Again, Porter came on strong, but Cortada threw him for an ippon and won the bronze. Porter took fifth place. "I like fighting him," said Porter. "He's a good person, and I couldn't have lost to a better player."

Andre Watson, -90kg (Upper Darby, Penn.) fought hard against 2004 gold medalist Messaoud Nine of Algeria, but couldn't get his pin to stick. Watson received a shido (penalty), and was beaten with a koka. In his second match against Anatoliy Schevchenko of Ukraine, Watson was thrown for a full ippon.

"I would really have liked to see Watson with a win," said assistant coach Scott Moore. "I think he could have taken Nine with more time."

Rowing

Women's arms only single sculler Laura Schwanger (Harrisburg, Pa.) is one step closer to the medal stand after winning the second of two heats Tuesday to advance directly to Thursday's final.

Second off the starting line, Schwanger gained water on Ukraine's Svitlana Kupriianova by the halfway point to take the lead. The U.S. sculler continued to pull away in the final stretch to win the race by nearly ten seconds, clocking a 6:01.78.

China's Jinhong Zhang finished second in a 6:11.02, followed by Ukraine in third with a 6:13.49 and Brazil in fourth with a 6:14.76. Italy and Portugal followed in fifth and sixth.

"It was a pretty good race and I'm happy with the result," said Schwanger, a four-time Paralympic track and field athlete who won four gold medals in 1988, three silver medals and a bronze medal in 1992 and three silver medals in 1996.

"There was tough competition on either side of me, but I followed the race plan and it worked out.  Hopefully I can do it again in the final."

In the men's arms only single sculls, Ron Harvey (Long Beach, Calif.) finished fourth with a time of 5:17.36 in the first of two heats. Ukraine's Oleksandr Petrenko led the race from wire-to-wire, clocking a 5:17.36 for the win.

Angela Madsen (Long Beach, Calif.) and Scott Brown (Collingdale, Pa.) finished fourth in the first of two heats of the mixed trunk and arms double sculls. The duo rowed even with the Ukrainian crew through the first 250 meters, but fell back in the second half of the race to finish in a 4:29.69. In the legs, trunk and arms four with coxswain, Simona Chin (Houston, Texas), Jamie Dean (Pickerington, Ohio), Jesse Karmazin (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.), Tracey Tackett (Phoenixville, Pa.) and Emma Preuschl (Indianapolis, Ind.) finished third in the first of two heats. The U.S. crew clocked a 3:37.57, finishing less than a second behind Great Britain's 3:36.81.

Sailing

Qingdao, China (September 9, 2008) - It was another successful day for Team USA today, with two teams each winning two out of their three races. Nick Scandone (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Maureen McKinnon-Tucker (Marblehead, Mass.) are enjoying the view from the top in the 11-boat SKUD-18 class, after grabbing two bullets and a third place finish today. After also winning two races today, John Ruf (Pewaukee, Wis.) now sits in second place in the 2.4 mR, only one point shy away from the leader, Canada.

"We couldn't be more proud of their performances," said Head Coach Betsy Alison (Newport, R.I.). "They sailed consistently out on the water and were persistent. That's all we can ask. As long as they stay positive and on track, things will come together in the end."

The Sonar team of skipper Rick Doerr (Clifton, N.J.), and his crew, Tim Angle (Marblehead, Mass.) and Bill Donohue (Brick, N.J.), faced a tough day on the water today - condition- and competition-wise. The light and shifty breeze forced them to commit to the sides of the course early, but one slight misstep or delay proved to be costly.

Despite some good starts, Doerr and his team weren't able to capitalize on the side opportunities when they presented themselves, said Alison. "They're positive and looking forward to the second half of the series," said Alison today. "We have a lot of racing left."

Shooting

Team USA's Danielle Fong (New York, N.Y.) shot a personal best in the R8-50m Sport Rifle 3x20 - SH1 competition today. Shooting 20 shots from each of three positions - prone, standing and kneeling, Fong compiled a total score of 542 out of a possible 600. The event was won by Yun-Ri Lee of Korea with a world record score of 579.

USA Shooting coach Dan Durben was very positive about Fong's performance and felt that her prone score was top notch.

"That was some of the smartest shooting I've ever seen from a shooter," he said. "She approached it well and even in the wind had the patience to wait and do exactly what she needed to do."

At seventeen years old, Fong is by far the youngest female in the shooting competition. The average age of the competitors she faced in today's sport rifle event was 40.

"This is a sport that places a premium on experience," explained Durben. "And the way she has performed here in Beijing shows that she has a very bright future."

Sitting Volleyball

Before a crowd of over 4,000 screaming Chinese fans, the U.S. Women's Sitting Volleyball team struggled in the first set to keep its composure and could never rebound, losing in three straight sets (14-25, 21-25, 19-25).

In the first set, the U.S. scored the first point but that was the only time they would lead the entire set. China went on two early runs and at the first technical time-out, the score was already a lopsided 8-2. With several kills by Heather Erickson (Fayetteville, N.C.), the U.S. tried to get back in the hunt, but was plagued by too many unforced errors and couldn't overcome the early deficit. By the end of the set, China won easily and the final score was posted 25-14.

"We had a hard time putting together our game plan and executing it," said Team Captain Brenda Maymon (Sellersberg, Ind.), "I think it was mostly nerves."

The second set seemed to start the same as the first, but just as China started to pull away with a score of 7-4, the U.S. made three blocks in a row to tie the game. Tying was the best the team could do however, and could not ever manage to take control or the lead. China's Yuhong Sheng was a force to be reckoned with and it became a battle of outside hitters.

Nichole Millage (Champaign, Ill./Edmond, Okla.) substituted for Maymon in the third set and seemed to provide a spark for the U.S. team. The score went back and forth with even play from both countries. The teams traded the lead on numerous occasions and the score was tied 14 times during the course of the game.

At 18-18, Millage scored a point for the U.S. to move the team into the lead once more. China called a time-out and then went on to score seven unanswered points, finishing the set and the match with a final score of 19-25.

Now with a 1-1 record, the U.S. will take on Latvia (0-2) tomorrow (Wednesday, September 10) at 13:30, which will conclude pool play competition. At the end of pool play, the first and second ranked teams from each Pool will ascend to the semi-finals, while the third and fourth ranked teams from each Pool will play classification matches for fifth through eighth places.

Swimming

A competitor who thrives on the world stage of the Paralympic Games, Erin Popovich (Fort Collins, Colo./Silverbow, Mont.) won her third gold medal in Beijing, posting a world record time of 1:31.60 in the women's 100m breaststroke (SB7.) Teammate Jessica Long (Baltimore, Md.) - who set the former world record of 1:32.52 in 2006 - finished with a time of 1:38.60 and the bronze medal.

"We knew we had a tough race because there's a lot of competition here," said Popovich. "I was just hoping to beat 1:35. I kept driving and pushing myself harder and harder." Popovich has won three gold medals in as many days of competition, including a world record race in the women's 200 IM (SM7) and a Paralympic record race in the women's 100m freestyle (S7.)

Popovich and Long weren't the only American duo to rule the podium. Ashley Owens (Stockbridge, Ga.) took gold in the women's 100m freestyle (S10), edging out Katarzyna Pawlik (POL) by .02 to set a world record of 1:01.57. Anna Eames (Golden Valley, Minn.) joined her on the medal stand, earning bronze with a time of 1:01.91.

"I thought she [Pawlik] had it but I just got to the wall first," said Owens. "Words can't describe how I felt when I realized I had won. My goal was the gold medal."

"Our women's team is absolutely the best in the world," said Julie O'Neill (Colorado Springs, Colo.), head coach, U.S. Paralympic Swimming Team. "They are so dominant right now and have raised the level of competition across all events."Rudy Garcia-Tolson (Colorado Springs, Colo./Bloomington, Calif.) represented the U.S. Men's Paralympic Swimming

Team on the medal stand Tuesday with a bronze in the 100m breaststroke (SB7). His time of 1:24.01 was a personal best by approximately one second.Table Tennis

Mitch Seidenfeld (Lakeville, Minn.) collected another 3-0 win in round three to advance to Wednesday's semifinals in men's class seven singles.

The three-time Paralympian defeated Johan DuPlooy of the Republic of South Africa 11-7, 11-7, 13-11 less than 24 hours after his big 3-0 win over Stephane Messi of France yesterday.

Tahl Leibovitz (Ozone Park, N.Y.) lost to Finland's Esa Miettinen in round three of the men's class 9-10 singles to wrap up his individual performance at the Games. Miettinen took the first two games 12-10 and 11-9. Leibovitz fought back in the third game to win 14-12, but couldn't maintain the momentum into the fourth game, losing 9-11.

Leibovitz will join Seidenfeld in next week's team events. Noga Nir-Kistler (Allentown, Pa.) lost 0-3 to Jordan's Khetam Abuawad to conclude U.S. women's competition. Nir-Kistler dropped the first three games 7-11, 4-11, 5-11 to Abuawad.

Wheelchair Basketball

Men

The U.S. Men's Wheelchair Basketball Team suffered its first defeat of the 2008 Paralympic Games on Tuesday, losing to Great Britain 54-50 in preliminary round play. The U.S. team never got in a rhythm offensively and had a difficult time stopping British sharp-shooter Jon Pollock, who led all players with 19 points.

"I have to hand it to Great Britain. They fought hard and played to win," said U.S. head coach Steve Wilson (Racine, Wis.). "On the flip side, once the game got a bit out of our control we played not to lose, instead of fighting to win, and you're not going to be successful with that kind of mentality."

Team USA was led by Joe Chambers (Whitewater, Wis./Davis, Calif.) and Paul Schulte (Bradenton, Fla./Manchester, Mich.) with 14 and 13 points, respectively.

The U.S. continues pool play on Wednesday, Sept. 10, against China at 5:45 p.m. at the Beijing Science & Technology University Gymnasium.

Women

The U.S. Women's Wheelchair Basketball Team defeated Australia, 61-42, to remain unbeaten in pool play. Tuesday's game was a rematch of the gold medal game from the Paralympic Games four years ago in Athens, which was also won by the Americans.

"We started slow in our first game against Germany, but today built on our third and fourth quarter performances from yesterday," said Stephanie Wheeler (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Norlina, N.C.). "We're going to rely on our defense this whole tournament and fortunately today our offense caught up with us."

For the second straight game, the U.S. rotated 10 of its 12 players into the game, with all 10 of those athletes getting on the scoreboard. Jennifer Ruddell (Rome, Ga.) led the team with 18 points and six rebounds and Wheeler added 11 points and seven rebounds.

The U.S. continues pool play against Great Britain on Wednesday, Sept. 10, at 12:15 p.m. at the Beijing Science & Technology University Gymnasium.

Wheelchair Tennis

Originally announced as postponed due to rain, wheelchair tennis proceeded on Tuesday, but unrelenting rain eventually caused play to be suspended until Wednesday. Nevertheless, the rain didn't prevent the U.S. from winning two and losing two matches.

In Quad Mixed Singles, Brent Poppen (Paso Robles, Calif.) started strong. He was down 3-0, but fought back. In a well played match he lost in the tiebreaker, finishing to Sweden's Johan Andersson 6-2, 7-6(4).

David Wagner (Hillsboro, Ore.) played on Centre Court in a Quad Mixed Singles match against Sarah Hunter of Canada.

Wagner beat Hunter in three sets, 6-3, 4-6, and 6-4.

Nick Taylor (Wichita, Kan.) won solidly over Israel's Boaz Kramer, 6-3, 6-3. "The weather held off and fortunately we were able to finish," said Taylor. "I'm looking forward to a very tough match on Centre Court tomorrow."

Playing against Joachim Gerard of Belgium, Lee Hinson (Wallan, Australia/Jacksonville, Fla.) performed better than the score shows. Gerard's serves proved too big and too strong for Hinson, who lost 6-2, 6-0.

Jon Rydberg (Oakdale, Minn.) played against Felix Jozef of Slovakia and Steve Welch (Bedford, Texas) played against

Majdi of France, and while they both finished their first sets, neither was able to finish his match when play was suspended due to rain. Rydberg currently stands at 6-4 and 3-3, while Welch is 6-1 and 2-0, and play resumes tomorrow.