Sunday, August 31, 2008

the women of the DNC08 - hillary.

Exceptional excerpts from Hillary Clinton's speech to the Democratic National Convention, August 2008:

I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me?
Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?

We need leaders once again who can tap into that special blend of American confidence and optimism that has enabled generations before us to meet our toughest challenges. Leaders who can help us show ourselves and the world that with our ingenuity, creativity and innovative spirit, there are no limits to what is possible in America.
This won't be easy. Progress never is. But it will be impossible if we don't fight to put a Democrat in the White House.

I'm a United States Senator because in 1848 a group of courageous women and a few brave men gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, many traveling for days and nights, to participate in the first convention on women's rights in our history.
And so dawned a struggle for the right to vote that would last 72 years, handed down by mother to daughter to granddaughter - and a few sons and grandsons along the way.
These women and men looked into their daughters' eyes, imagined a fairer and freer world, and found the strength to fight. To rally and picket. To endure ridicule and harassment. To brave violence and jail.
And after so many decades - 88 years ago on this very day - the 19th amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote would be forever enshrined in our Constitution.

My mother was born before women could vote. But in this election, my daughter got to vote for her mother for President.

This is the story of America. Of women and men who defy the odds and never give up.
How do we give this country back to them?
By following the example of a brave New Yorker, a woman who risked her life to shepherd slaves along the Underground Railroad.
And on that path to freedom, Harriett Tubman had one piece of advice.

If you hear the dogs, keep going.
If you see the torches in the woods, keep going.
If they're shouting after you, keep going.
Don't ever stop. Keep going.
If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.

Even in the darkest of moments, ordinary Americans have found the faith to keep going.
I've seen it in you. I've seen it in our teachers and firefighters, nurses and police officers, small-business owners and union workers, the men and women of our military - you always keep going.
We are Americans. We're not big on quitting.
But remember, before we can keep going, we have to get going - by electing Barack Obama president.

the women of the DNC08 - michelle.

Exceptional excerpts from Michelle Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention, August 2008:

[The great American story is] the story of men and women gathered in churches and union halls, in town squares and high-school gyms - people who stood up and marched and risked everything they had - refusing to settle, determined to mold our future into the shape of our ideals.

It is because of their will and determination that this week, we celebrate two anniversaries: the 88th anniversary of women winning the right to vote, and the 45th anniversary of that hot summer day when Dr. King lifted our sights and our hearts with his dream for our nation.

I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history - knowing that my piece of the American Dream is a blessing hard-won by those who came before me. All of them driven by the same conviction that drove my dad to get up an hour early each day to painstakingly dress himself for work. The same conviction that drives the men and women I've met all across this country:

People who work the day shift, kiss their kids goodnight, and head out for the night shift - without disappointment, without regret - that goodnight kiss a reminder of everything they're working for.

The military families who say grace each night with an empty seat at the table. The servicemen and women who love this country so much, they leave those they love most to defend it.

The young people across America serving our communities - teaching children, cleaning up neighborhoods, caring for the least among us each and every day.

People like Hillary Clinton, who put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, so that our daughters - and sons - can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.

People like Joe Biden, who's never forgotten where he came from, and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again.

All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won't do - that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.

That is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack's journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope.

That is why I love this country.

the DNC08.

I realize not all my readers (or lurkers) are yellow-dog Democrats like I am, so I don't want to wallow around too excessively in the wonderfully inspirational week we Ds had via Denver. But **WOW**.

Feel free to skip it, but I simply must honor the experience somehow. So I'll go for minimalism with the men:
  • Senator Ted Kennedy: The Lion of the Senate personifies courage.
  • President Bill Clinton: The Boy from Hope takes the high road - and lifts us all with him (he's still got it!).
  • VP nominee Senator Joe Biden: Surprisingly close to Joe Six-Pack for a senior senator, his priorities are straight and his commute is crazy.
  • Barack Obama: Realizing a 45-year-old Dream while managing to transcend the race card . . . Oh, yes. He can. (And he did. And, I believe, he will.)
Following is a pair of posts containing pieces of the spectacular speechifying provided by the two highest-profile women at the event, so you can read and be moved by their words, as I was.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

a woman worth remembering.

Sadly, another lovely lesbian couple recently married didn't make it much past their two-month anniversary. Author and community leader Dorothy "Del" Martin - who with her longtime lover, Phyllis Lyon, were the first same-sex couple to legally marry in San Francisco - died August 27th following years of declining health.

Martin, 87, and Lyon, 83, [above, L & R respectively, at their nuptials] had been partners and activists together for a half-century. They met in 1950 working as journalists for the same trade publication, became a couple in 1952 and formalized their relationship on Valentine's Day, 1953, by moving in together. In 1955, they bought the small San Fran house they've called home since.

Together, Martin and Lyon founded America's first public and political lesbian rights organization, the Daughters of Bilitis (named for an obscure book of lesbian love poetry), and the first gay political club in the U.S., the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club. Martin helped found many other groundbreaking groups, including the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, the Lesbian Mother's Union, the Coalition for Justice for Battered Women, the San Francisco Women's Centers, the Bay Area Women's Coalition and the California Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She was the first open lesbian to serve as board member for the National Organization for Women, and she and Lyon both served as delegates on the White House Conference on Aging.

A San Francisco native, Del Martin was salutatorian of the first graduating class of George Washington High School, studied journalism at the University of California at Berkley and at San Francisco State University, and earned her doctorate at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality.

Martin and Lyon wed June 16th at San Francisco's City Hall, with Mayor Gavin Newsom officiating.

The newly widowed Lyon commented, "I am devastated, but I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed."

DeGeneres + De Rossi = De-lovely.

I just love Ellen DeGeneres. She's hilarious, and seems to me to be genuine and open and warm and passionate, and maybe just a little too trusting.

So I just want to shout out a "HOLLA!!" to celebrate the two-week anniversary of her legal lesbian marriage to Portia de Rossi (it'd be amusing for them to take one another's surnames in hyphenate: Ellen DeGeneres-de Rossi and Portia de Rossi-DeGeneres ... I can hear Cole Porter humming along ... ).

On Saturday, August 16th at 7:15p, Ellen and Portia were wed, with friend and author Wayne Dyer officiating, at the Los Angeles home they share. Only 19 people participated in the intimate gathering, including both brides' moms, who were, by all accounts, thrilled. Quoth Betty DeGeneres, "I'm a mother-in-law. My daughter and the love of her life are legally married. They have the legal civil rights that other loving couples have - and what's wrong with that??"

Not a thing, Betty. Not a single thing.

According to People's exclusive coverage of the event, the couple danced to their favorite love song, Stevie Wonder's "Ribbon in the Sky." You can definitely see the significance within the first- and last-verse lyrics:

Oh so long for this night I prayed
That a star would guide you my way
To share with me this special day
Where a ribbon's in the sky for our love

We can't lose with God on our side
We'll find strength in each tear we cry
From now on it will be you and I
And our ribbon in the sky
Ribbon in the sky
A ribbon in the sky for our love

Happy Congratulations and Best Wishes, Ellen & Portia.

Friday, August 29, 2008

just one more for mama.

Wow, what a week! I really required a blogging break following 15 consecutive days of coverage on the women at the Beijing Olympics, but so so much has happened this week, I'm now waaaaay behind on my Things I Must Blog About list! So maybe I'll spend this long Labor Day weekend birthing some blogs about Michelle, Hillary (& Bill), Sarah, Joe, Ellen & Portia & Del (&Phyllis).

But first's thing's last - I've got just one more post-Olympics post, on Team USA Mama Olympians.

Thanks to Tim Johnson, the Beijing bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers, and his blog, China Rises, I finally found a list of the American Olympic athletes who are also mamas. There are a total of 20 according to Tim's U.S. Olympic Committee list; I want to honor here and now the eleven Olympic Mamas who were also Olympic Medalists at the Beijing Games:
  • Robyn Ah Mow-Santos, 32, of Honolulu, HI, competes in women's volleyball (setter). She has a son, Jordan, 5. She won a team silver.
  • Jennie Finch, 27, of La Mirada, CA, competes in women's softball (pitcher). She has a son, Ace, 2. She won a team silver.
  • Laura Kraut, 42, of Camden, SC, competes in equestrian show jumping. She has a son, Bobby, 8. She won a gold.
  • Lisa Leslie, 36, of Los Angeles, CA, competes in women's basketball (center). She has a daughter, Lauren, 1. She won a team gold.
  • Kate Markgraf, 32, of Bloomfield Hills, MI, competes in women's soccer (defender). She has a son, Keegan, 1. She won a team gold.
  • Gina Miles, 34, of Davis, CA, competes in equestrian eventing. She has two children, Austin, 8, and Taylor, 1. She won an individual silver.
  • Stacey Nuveman, 27, of La Verne, CA, competes in women's softball (catcher). She has a son, Chase, 1. She won a team silver.
  • Christie Rampone, 33, of Point Pleasant, NJ, competes in women's soccer (defender). She has a daughter, Rylie, 2. She won a team gold.
  • Melanie Roach, 33, of Bonney Lake, WA, competes in women's weightlifting (53 kg). She has three children, Ethan, Drew and Camille. She did not medal, but did set a U.S. record by lifting 193 kg (425.5 lbs).
  • Tina Thompson, 33, of Los Angeles, CA, competes in women's basketball (forward). She has a son, Dylan, 3. She won a team gold.
  • Dara Torres, 41, of Los Angeles, CA, competes in women's swimming. She has a daughter, Tessa, 2 [mama and daughter above]. She won three silvers - two team in the 4x100m free relay and the 4x100m medley relay, and an individual in the 50m free.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

g3 - day 15.

Well, this is my last official daily post of the Beijing Summer Olympic Games. And while I've definitely enjoyed following the competition much more closely and being absolutely awed by performance upon performance - especially by the women - I'm tired. Not as tired as the Chinese cheerleaders who've been manically hopping along the sidelines of every event for over two weeks, but still, tired.

Team USA's women's basketball team, however, didn't seem a smidge sleepy as they won their fourth consecutive gold, 92-65, against Australia [above, the American women belt "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the medals ceremony].

It was center Lisa Leslie's final Olympics, and her fourth gold; only Leslie, 26, of Los Angeles, CA, and former teammate Teresa Edwards share a quartet of gold medals for Olympic basketball.

The Aussies have now lost to the Americans in the women's basketball finals in the past three Olympics, with all three losses coming at double-digit margins.

Russia got the bronze.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
While the U.S. women's volleyball team didn't go golden, the silver the team earned against number-one worldwide Brazil might rank as the happiest silver medal awarded during the Beijing Games.

The American women were ninth at the world championships two years ago, third at last year's World Cup. To even win a medal, they had to beat favored China, Cuba and Italy. And despite the tragic murder of a former team member's father and the serious injury of her mother at the beginning of the Olympics by a suicidal madman, the team overcame their competitive odds.

Brazil, which had never played in an Olympic final, won its first gold against Team USA, 3-1. The Americans, who have never won a gold, happily settled for silver, the team's first medal in 16 years and its best finish since 1984. That year, the Chinese took the gold; their star outside hitter at the time, "Jenny" Lang Ping, now coaches the U.S. women's team.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Finally, Austin resident and favorite Sanya Richards, 23, of Fort Lauderdale, FL, made up for her fade the other day from first place to a disappointing third during the women's 400-meter individual by running an amazing anchor leg for Team USA to win the gold in the women's 4x400-meter relay.

When Richards accepted the baton for the final leg of the race, the U.S. was trailing Russia. But Richards closed the gap, and with 30 meters left, pulled to the outside and freight-trained past Anastasia Kapachinskaya to clinch the gold. Richards and teammates Allyson Felix, 21, of Los Angeles, Monique Henderson, 25, of San Diego, and Mary Wineberg, 28, of Cincinnati, OH, finished at 3 minutes, 18.54 seconds, the fastest women's 1,600-meter in 15 years.

Russia earned the silver at 3:18.82, and Jamaica got the bronze at 3:20.40.

Felix, who had earlier earned the silver in the women's 200-meter, ran the fastest lap of any of the 32 women in the final, a 48.55-second split that clearly made a difference. The U.S. women's track and field team takes home a total of nine medals, their highest count since 1992.

My husband and I were literally up out of our seats, yelling, "GO, SANYA!!" for the last few seconds of the relay. Like the rest of the Beijing Olympics, it was really something to experience.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

g3 - day 14.

No American women medaled at the Olympics Friday ... but one re-medaled, sort of. Hyleas Fountain [above - she really is #2!!], 27, of Enola, PA, traded in the bronze she got last week in the women's heptathlon for a silver.

Fountain was moved up from third to second when original silver medalist Lyudmila Blonska of the Ukraine tested positive for the substance methyltestosterone, her second doping offense. Fellow Ukrainian Nataliia Dobrynska won the gold, and fourth-place finisher Tatyana Chernova of Russia became the bronze medalist.

Fountain, a three-time heptathlon national champion, is the only American woman other than Jackie Joyner-Kersee ever to win a medal in the event, which consists of seven sub-events: 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter, long jump, javelin throw and 800-meter race.

Friday, August 22, 2008

g3 - day 13.

It was, overall, an unlucky day 13 for Team USA at the Beijing Olympics -but let's get going with the good news . . .

The U.S. Women's Olympic soccer team won the gold in a high-drama duel against Brazil, holding off their opponents' powerful offense for 90 minutes before scoring the winning - and only - goal of the game six minutes into overtime.

The historic 1-0 victory meant the third gold medal for the U.S. women in four Olympic Games - the team also won gold in 1996 and 2004, while earning a silver in 2000.

Superstar standouts in the game included Americans Hope Solo, 27, of Richland, WA, the goalkeeper who made six spectacular saves to secure the shutout, Carli Lloyd, 26, of Delran, NJ, the solitary scoring midfielder, and U.S. captain and center back Christie Rampone [above, redefining the term "soccer mom" with her two-year-old daughter, Rylie Cate], 33, of Point Pleasant, NJ, who led the team's almost-perfect defensive performance.

Germany got the bronze.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sadly, the U.S. women's softball team struck out on gold, losing 3-1 to Japan in a depressing denial.

The loss was the first for the Americans since the 2000 Sydney Games; their winning streak was at 22 - mostly won by ridiculously lopsided scores - when the Japanese women, led by power pitcher Yukiko Ueno, destroyed Team USA's run at a fourth consecutive gold medal. The Aussies got the bronze.

And just to put insult to injury, softball itself has been denied as an Olympic sport for London's 2012 Summer Games. The game won't return to Olympic competition until 2016 at the earliest - and it's possible it might never return.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
But the biggest bummer of the day had to be letting loose over at the track, where both the U.S. women and the U.S. men failed to qualify to compete in the the 400-meter relay finals, letting go of the medals by letting go of the batons. Yes, both relay teams dropped their batons in the final exchange of the race; for the men, the disconnect came between Darvis Patton and Tyson Gay; for the women, the mishap happened between Torri Edwards, 31, of Pomona, CA, and Lauryn Williams, 24, of Rochester, PA.

For Williams, it was a recurringly nightmarish moment - she also failed to hold onto the baton passed from Marion Jones in the same event's finals in the 2004 Athens Games, meddling with the U.S.' chance to medal.

The last time the U.S. women didn't reach the 400m relay finals was 60 years ago.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This rainy day held silver (and bronze) linings for the rest of the women's events; we just couldn't seem to get to the pot of gold.

In the 200-meter, reigning world champion American Allyson Felix gave her best, but we guess her best wasn't good enough - Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown ran the fastest time in a decade, 21.74 seconds, to win the gold, her fifth Olympic medal overall. Felix, 21, of Los Angeles, CA, never recovered from a slow start, but still managed to silver with a finishing time of 21.93 sec. - a 0.07-second sliver ahead of Jamaican Kerron Stewart, who got the bronze.

In water polo, the Americans were highly favored to finally win the gold, having come close in both Sydney and Athens. But the Netherlands nudged us over and out, seizing the gold with a score of 9-8, and leaving us settling for a silver. Danielle de Bruijn of the Netherlands put on practically a one-woman show, scoring six of the team's nine goals, including the winning point with 26 seconds remaining.

In equestrian mixed individual jumping, American Beezie Madden, 44, of Mequon, WI, was the only woman medal-winner, getting the bronze astride Authentic. Canada's Eric Lamaze rode to the gold with Hickstead, winning a timed jump-off against Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and his horse Ninja, both of Sweden.

Riding her boss bike, American Jill Kintner, 26, of Seattle, WA, also got bronze in the first-ever women's Olympic BMX event. Anne-Caroline Chausson of France won the gold, and her compatriot Laetitia le Corguille earned the silver.

And finally, in the women's 57-kilogram (125.66 pounds) taekwondo, American Diana Lopez, 24, of Sugar Land, TX, got the bronze with a match-concluding kick in overtime against Italy's Veronica Calabrese. Taekwondo awards two bronze medals in each weight class; the other one went to Croatia's Martina Zubcic. South Korea's Lim Sujeong won the gold against Turkey's Azize Tanrikulu, who earned the silver.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

g3 - day 12.

Thank God. Women's beach volleyball is finally over.

Maybe it's just me, but it sure seemed like NBC had an intense interest in airing every single second of play - from prelimanaries to semi-finals to this medaling match - by American "golden girls" Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor [above, decently dressed, left & right]. Is it possible there's a demographic out there in TVland who digs watching two buff babes bounce around barely clad, kicking volleyball ass and rolling around hugging in the sand? Seriously, if there were an Olympic event for least amount of cloth you can attach to your body and still call it a "uniform," then the women's beach volleyball bikinis would win the gold, nolo contendre (and three new uniforms could be created from the medal ribbons!).

All of which is not to imply that I'm not happy that May-Treanor, 31, of Costa Mesa, CA, and Walsh, 30, of Santa Clara, CA, whooped up on the Chinese to win a second consecutive gold medal in beach volleyball Wednesday night. The pair beat China's Wang Jie and Tian Jia in straight sets - 21-18, 21-18 - extending their winning streak to 108 consecutive matches. They never lost a set in seven Olympic matches (really? only seven?), playing through the beautiful Beijing smog, the sweltering heat and, finally, the drenching rain that dominated their final match (luckily, their white uniforms were reinforced ... otherwise, they might have had a spontaneous post-game wet t-shirt contest up on the medals podium).

A second team from China, Xue Chen and Zhang Xi, earned the country's first beach volleyball medal by beating the Brazilians for the bronze earlier on in the day.

I'm proud and pleased these powerful, thirty-something American women won the gold again - I just wish they wouldn't have had to do it with their asses hanging out (regardless of how tight and tan they are).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The women's 400-meter hurdles race was wide open going in - world record-holder Yulia Pechonkina of Russia wasn't participating due to heart trouble; two-time world champion Jana Rawlinson of Australia was out with an injury; and reigning Olympic champion Fani Halkia of Greece had been expelled from the Games following a positive steroid test.

So it was anyone's race.

It turned out the race belonged to Jamaica's Melaine Walker, as she set a new Olympic record while winning the gold in 52.64 seconds. American Sheena Tosta, 25, of Garfield, VA, earned the silver, coming in at 53.70 sec., and Britain's Tasha Danvers got the bronze with a finish time of 53.84.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

g3 - day 11.

OK, the late-night Olympics is officially kicking my ass. With a little less than a week to go, I'm suffering from a severe case of OSES, Olympic Spectator Exhaustion Syndrome. How about you - can I get a witness?

Still, it was with some sleep-deprived sadness that we said "zai jian" (Chinese for goodbye, it's pronounced "zay jee-ahn") to women's gymnastics last night, but what a fine finish for Team USA. The self-described "daredevil with a big smile" and three-time silver medalist Shawn Johnson [above] finally got her gold on with a brilliant balance beam performance, while her American teammate and Olympic roommate, Nastia Liukin, delivered an equally exceptional execution, but with a slightly simpler routine that earned her the silver. China's Cheng Fei got the bronze.

For Johnson, 16, of West Des Moines, IA, it was her fourth medal of the Beijing Games, having silvered in the team competition, on floor exercise, and just behind Liukin in the all-around. Liukin, 18, of Parker, TX, will haul home five medals, having also silvered as part of the women's team and on the uneven bars, getting the bronze on floor exercise, and winning the all-around.

The U.S. women's gymnastic team ends their Olympic experience at the top of the medal board, with a total of eight medals; runner-up China earned six.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Track and field competition continues to deliver some stunning surprises for Team USA women ...

American Lolo Jones, 26, of Des Moines, IA, went into the 100-meter hurdles race a huge favorite. She had a huge lead coming to the close of the race, when she had a huge snafu, slamming her foot into the ninth of ten hurdles. Scrambling to balance herself, Jones slipped to seventh place for the final, leaving the gold to teammate Dawn Harper, 24, of East St. Louis, who had barely qualified to come to the Olympics at all, snatching the last spot by a sliver of 0.007 seconds.

Australian Sally Mclellan earned the silver and Canadian Priscilla Lopes-Schliep got the bronze.

Similarly, American Sanya Richards went into the 400-meter race having been number one in the world for the last three years - but tell it to her right hamstring. Like Jones, Richards, 23, of Fort Lauderdale, FL, started strong and was leading heading into the final 80 meters of the race, when her right hamstring began to tighten up. A grimacing Richards was passed by twice, but still managed to medal, getting the bronze.

Great Britain's Christine Ohuruogo won the gold, and Jamaica's Shericka Williams earned the silver. Ohuruogo was cleared in November to compete in Beijing when she won her appeal against a lifetime Olympic ban for missing three out-of-competition drug tests.

The ecstasy & the agony continue ... it's increasingly clear why the drama-loving Greeks were so into the Olympic Games, isn't it?

Just had to post this picture of unexpected 100-meter hurdles gold medalist Dawn Harper, who was utterly disbelieving of the scoreboard at the race's finish. For a full two minutes, she just kept staring at the scores and wandering around the track shouting, "WHAT!?!!??!?" over and over. It was a wonderful Olympic underdog moment. :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

g3 - day 10.

Some surprising successes for Team USA women at Monday's Olympic games ...

With track and field events underway, America's Stephanie Brown Trafton threw the discus 212 feet, 5 inches on her very first try - a first impression that ultimately won the gold. It's the first gold for a U.S. woman in the discus since 1932, and only the second medal of any kind since then. Brown Trafton, 28, of Arroyo, CA, had only two throws over 200 feet before this year.

Meanwhile, America's Jennifer Stuczynski (25, of Fredonia, NY) earned the silver in the women's pole vault, clearing 15.75 feet. Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva, who won the gold easily in 2004 in Athens, did so again with a world-record leap of 16.57 feet (5.05 meters) - she's pictured above during her joyful landing. Isinbaeva, 26, had established the existing world record of 5.04 meters just last month. Another Russian, Svetlana Feofanova, got the bronze with a jump of 15.59 feet.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Out on the water at the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center, American Laser Radial sailor Anna Tunnicliffe became the first woman in 20 years to win the gold in the women's one-person dinghy competition. Tunnicliffe, 25, of Perrysburg, OH, also earned the U.S.' first sailing gold of the Beijing Games. Lithuania's Gintare Volungeviciute settled for the silver, while China's Lijia Xu got the bronze.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Over in Hong Kong, Team USA's equestrian jumping team won the gold in a jump-off with Canada. The Americans also won team jumping in 2004 in Athens, and had two returning combinations - Beezie Madden (Maquon, WI) on Authentic and McLain Ward (Brewster, NY) on Sapphire. New team members were Laura Kraut (Camden, SC) and Will Simpson (Peoria, IL). Canada settled for the silver, while Norway got the bronze.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Olympic gymnastics all-around champion Nastia Liukin had a difficult day ... the American tied for first on the uneven bars, but a series of computerized tie-breakers forced her into second place by 33/100ths of a point. China's itty bitty He Kexin won the gold, while her teammate Yang Yilin got the bronze.

Liukin's father and coach, Valeri Liukin, tied for an Olympic gold medal on the high bar for the Soviet Union in 1988; then, they simply presented dual golds. But the International Gymnastics Federation initiated the use of tie-breakers in the 2000 Olympics.

For Nastia, 18, of Parker, TX, the silver was her fourth medal for these Olympics - she won the all-around championship gold, got a bronze in floor exercise, and helped the U.S. team earn a silver last week. She goes for a fifth medal in today's balance-beam final.

Monday, August 18, 2008

g3 - day 9.

Sisters, sisters, there were never two such kick-ass sisters ...

Yes, Serena and Venus Williams [left, top and bottom, respectively] kept up a family tradition by serving it up to the Spaniards to win the Olympic gold in the women's doubles tennis tournament.

The Williams sisters, of Lynwood, CA, won the gold eight years ago in Sydney, but were forced to skip the 2004 games in Athens due to an injury for Serena. Though both had withdrawn from tournaments last month with knee injuries, they showed no signs of struggle Sunday, easily overpowering the Spanish team who, despite being the reigning French Open doubles champions, earned the silver. The Chinese, who got the women's doubles gold four years ago, walked away with the bronze this time around.

Venus, 28, is ranked 5th worldwide as a singles player and has won 16 Grand Slam titles, 9 of them doubles. Serena, 26, is ranked 8th worldwide and has won 30 singles titles, 8 of them Grand Slams. The duo also dominated in doubles at Wimbledon this year. The tight twosome climbed the medals podium together, holding hands.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Team USA won the gold in women's eight rowing, besting the silver they earned in Athens in 2004. The Netherlands crew earned the silver this time, while the crew from Romania, having gotten the gold the last three Olympic Games, had to settle for the bronze.

Americans Erin Cafaro (Modesto, CA), Anna Cummins (Bellevue, WA), Caryn Davies (Ithaca, NY), Susan Francia (Abington, PA), Anna Goodale (Montville, ME), Elle Logan (Boothbay Harbor, ME), Caroline Lind (Greensboro, NC) and coxswain Mary Whipple (Sacramento, CA) finished the race at 6 minutes, 5.34 seconds. The Netherlands finished at 6:07.22, and the Romanians at 6:07.25.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
On the vault, on the floor - gymnast drama, more and more ... American Shawn Johnson is seeing the silver lining once again as the gold slipped through her fingers - and into Romanian Sandra Izbasa's hands - in floor exercise. Just two days earlier, Johnson earned the silver to her teammate Nastia Liukin's gold-worthy performance in the all-around.

Johnson, 16, of West Des Moines, IA, had to perform first - the worst position - but earned a respectable 15.50 score. It held up through six other finalists' performances - including Liukin's, which got her the bronze - but fell to Izbasa's soaring somersaults and solid landings, which earned her a 15.65.

Still, Johnson has earned three silver medals in Beijing; Liukin, 18, of Parker, TX, has won one of each.

Neither American competed on the vault, where North Korea's Hong Un Jong, 19, won the gold - the first gymnastics medal for her nation. China's highly favored Cheng Fei, 20, the gold medalist at the last three world championships, landed on her knees during her second run, letting Oksana Chusovitina of Germany take the silver while Cheng got the bronze.

Chusovitina is a 33-year-old native of Uzebekistan who is now a German citizen. Competing in her fifth Olympics, but her first for Germany, Chusovitina said medaling made her feel 18 again.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Finally, Japan's Kaori Icho defended her title in women's 63-kilogram wrestling, winning the gold over Alena Kartashova, 26, of Russia in two overtime matches. Icho, 24, has won every world championship in her weight class since 2002.

Dual bronzes went to Kazakhstan's Yelena Shalygina, 19, and American Randi Miller. For Miller, 24, of Arlington, TX, it was her first senior-level international tournament for the U.S.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

g3 - about a boy ... & his mama.

Here's how you know you've raised your son right: Every time he steps off the podium after having been awarded an Olympic gold medal - even if it's the eighth time in as many days - he walks over to you and presents you with his winning bouquet.

Debbie Phelps is the principal at Baltimore's Windsor Mill Middle School, and active leader within her community, an occasional motivational speaker (a role I suspect she'll be playing with growing frequency), an avid reader, an aspiring writer, a world traveler and sports fan, and a proud single mother of three - one of whom happens to be Olympic God of Swimming Michael Phelps.

Here's to a mom who - while her son showed the world an extraordinary example of what an ultimate champion looks like - showed the world what an essential role an exceptionally loving and supportive family plays in creating such a champion.

g3 - day 8.

Madonna might have hit the golden anniversary of her birth yesterday (Madonna 50? Geez, I'm old.), but it was a silvery Saturday for Team USA women at the Beijing Olympics.

Of course, if swimmer spectacular Dara Torres is the example, then age really is only a number. The 41-year-old mom, a five-time Olympian and the oldest American swimmer ever, got the silver in the women's 50-meter freestyle, as Germany's Britta Steffen, 24, touched the wall 1/100ths of a second faster than the Los Angeles native.

Steffen finished at 24.06 seconds; Torres [above, congratulating Steffen] at 24.07. To complete the race's age spectrum, the bronze went to 16-year-old Australian Cate Campbell, who finished at 24.17.

Steffen's sprint (and Torres', for that matter) bested the Olympic record of 24.13 set in 2000 in Sydney. Torres' silver marked her 11th Olympic medal overall.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Literally minutes later (she had to leave the medals podium early to prepare), Torres helped make her medal count an even dozen as Team USA earned the silver in the women's Olympic 4x100-meter medley.

Americans Torres, Natalie Coughlin (Vallejo, CA), Christine Magnuson (Tinley Park, IL) and Rebecca Soni (Plainsboro, NJ) finished second to the favored Australian team, which defended its Olympic title by not only winning the event, but also doing it in world-record time. China's team got the bronze.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Team USA's women's foil fencing team fought for a silver, too, getting solidly beat by the Russian team, 28-11.

Americans Emily Cross (New York, NY), Hanna Thompson (Rochester, NY) and Erinn Smart (Brooklyn, NY) were the opposite of disappointed, though. The team was considered an underdog at best, having been seeded seventh in the quarterfinals. They beat the world champion Polish team and third-seeded Hungary's team to reach the finals.

The Italian team got the bronze.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Finally, American Michelle Guerette, 27, of Bristol, CT, earned her silver Saturday in the women's single sculls rowing competition. Bulgaria's Rumyana Neykova won the gold, finishing at 7 minutes, 22.34 seconds. Guerette, America's top women's single sculler, finished at 7:22.78. Belarus' Yekaterina Karsten-Khodotovitch got the bronze at 7:23.98.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

g3 - day 7.

Blogging about amazing women doing amazing things at the Olympics means I'm following the Beijing Games more closely than I've followed the Olympics for years - maybe ever. And I'm loving it - especially getting into the lower-profile events, like, well, almost everything except gymnastics, swimming and beach volleyball.

As a big, big, big bonus, I'm temporarily saved from having to comment about John Edwards' baby-daddy drama. Yech.
So, back to Beijing . . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Team USA's Shalane Flanagan [above], 27, of Marble Head, MA, knew she had finished the 10,000-meter race, but had no clue how she finished. Following a few moments of reorientation, Flanagan realized she had just won the bronze, only the second medal earned by an American - male or female - on the track in a race longer than 800m since 1984; Lynn Jennings won the same 10K bronze in Barcelona in 1992.

Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba got the gold with an Olympic record and the second-fastest time ever at 29 minutes, 54.66 seconds. Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse took the silver at 29:56.34. Flanagan's time of 30:22.22 broke her own American record from last May of 30:34.39.

Flanagan's mother, pioneering runner Cheryl Treworgy, was present for her daughter's triumph. Treworgy ran college track at Indiana State and set a marathon world record.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Cookin' at the 'Cube were Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry and Team USA's Margaret Hoelzer, 25, of Huntsville, AL ... former Auburn University roommates and forever rivals, the women finished first and second, respectively, in the 200-meter backstroke. The pair has been trading world records and championships in the event for a couple of years; Coventry defended her Olympic title and won the gold by breaking Hoelzer's world record, touching the wall at 2 minutes, 5.24 seconds. Hoelzer earned the silver about a second later. Japan's Reiko Nakamura got the bronze at 2:07.13.

Friday, August 15, 2008

g3 - day 6.

Oh. My. God.

The competition for the women's gymnastics individual all-around last night kept me glued, wide-eyed, to NBC's live tv coverage into the wee hours, but who could turn away with Team USA's top two women gymnasts vying for the gold, and it all coming down to the last two performances of the very last event??

Nastia Liukin [above, right], 18, of Parker, TX, was the manifestation of grace under pressure, and it paid off. Liukin became the third American woman to win the Olympic all-around event, inheriting the mantle from Carly Patterson, who won the gold in Athens in 2004, and following in the the giant footsteps of Mary Lou Retton, who won in 1984.

Shawn Johnson [above, left], 16, of West Des Moines, IA - reigning world champion - followed her friend, rival and Olympic Village roommate with the silver. China's Yang Yilin earned the bronze.

Following the first rotation on the vault, Johnson was in second place behind Romania's Steliana Nistor, while Liukin was way back in ninth position (the vault is her weakest event). The second rotation on the uneven bars was where Liukin jockeyed into medaling position; her strongest event, the uneven bars left Liukin in second place behind Yang, with Johnson pushed back to fifth position. At the balance beam, Liukin shone again, taking over the top spot, with Yang just 0.15 behind her and Johnson in third place, 0.60 behind the leader. So the gold medal was determined by the fourth and final rotation - floor exercise. Yang, Liukin and Johnson were the last three to compete. The pressure was palpable. The Americans were awesome.

Liukin is the only child of a double gold medalist and a former rhythmic gymnastics world champion. Valeri Liukin, her father and coach, won two golds for the Soviet Union 20 years ago, but was beat out in the individual all-around by a teammate - so his daughter's victory in an eerily similar situation sent him soaring with much more than just fatherly pride.

If you missed her amazing performance last night, then you can still see Liukin compete in the individual uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise events.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Meanwhile, a swimming stunner over at the WaterCube . . . American Rebecca Soni, 21, of Plainsboro, NJ, won the gold in the 200-meter breaststroke, setting a new world record at 2 minutes, 20.22 seconds, and upsetting the favorite Leisel Jones of Australia.

Jones earned the silver at 2:22:05, and Norway's Sara Nordenstam got the bronze at 2:23:02. Jones had won the gold in the 100-meter breaststroke earlier in the week, with Soni coming in second.

Soni, the daughter of Hungarian immigrants, will swim the breaststroke leg in the 400 medley relay final late Saturday night.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Team USA swimmer Natalie Coughlin, 25, of Vallejo, CA, had another big day, earning her fifth Beijing Olympic medal by winning the bronze in the 100-meter freestyle competition. Germany's Britta Steffen won the gold and Australia's Libby Trickett earned the silver. Coughlin had already won gold in the 100m backstroke, silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay, and bronze in the 4x200m freestyle relay and in the 200m individual medley.

Coughlin also won five medals in 2004 in Athens, becoming the third American woman swimmer to do so. She's got one more event left to go, offering her the opportunity to exceed the five-medal mark she currently shares with Dara Torres and Shirley Babashoff. Along with the U.S. 4x100m medley relay team, Coughlin will compete today for a spot in the finals on Sunday.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It was shoot-off at the Beijing corral, producing Italy's Chiara Cainero as the winner of the gold in women's skeet shooting, with American Kim Rhode earning the silver and Germany's Christine Brinker getting the bronze.

The trio tied for the finish at 93 targets, and the shoot-off was on. Cainero hit the first two targets, while Rhode and Brinker both missed one. The shoot-off continued, with Rhode, 29, of El Monte, CA, eventually besting Brinker for the second-place spot.

Rhode won gold in double trap shooting in 1996 and in 2004, but the event was eliminated for women before the Beijing games - so skeeting for silver it was.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Remember what I said about women and weaponry . . . The Ukrainian women's saber team stunned fencing followers by winning the gold over China and over the top-seeded U.S. team featuring all three individual medalists. The Americans -Mariel Zagunis, Becca Ward and Sada Jacobson - got usurped by the Ukrainians during the semifinals, and so fought the French for third place. Ultimately, China settled for the silver, while Team USA got the bronze.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

g3 - day 5.

No, no - not a crazy-ass cat fight; just a combative moment of American history, as 21-year-old Ronda Rousey [brutish in blue] won the first Olympic medal ever for the United States in women's judo.

Rousey, of Santa Monica, CA, earned the bronze in the 154.3-pound division, following Japan's Masae Ueno, who won the gold, and Anaysi Hernandez of Cuba, who got the silver. Edith Bosch of the Netherlands also earned a bronze medal.

Rousey, a world silver medalist last year, is the daughter of AnnMarie De Mars, the first U.S. woman to win a world judo title. Rousey says her next plans include going to college, becoming a vegan and buying a surfboard.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
And the pool's still cool, er, hot . . . Stephanie Rice led Australia's women's swim team to win the gold in the 800-meter freestyle relay, and shattered the world record by almost six seconds doing it.

Rice and her teammates Bronte Barratt, Linda Mackenzie and Kylie Palmer finished in 7 minutes, 44.31 seconds; the prior record of 7:50:09 had been set by the U.S. women's team at last year's world championships.

The Americans - Natalie Coughlin (Vallejo, CA), Katie Hoff (Abingdon, MD), Caroline Burckle (Louisville, KY) and Allison Schmitt (Canton, MI)- earned the bronze at 7:46:33, the first time Team USA has lost the event since it began in 1996. The Chinese women's team got the silver in 7:45:93.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

g3 - day 4.

A disappointing day for Team USA's women's gymnastics team . . . but is silver sooo saddening? Sure, the gold-getting Chinese "women" are an average age of 12 and an average weight of 50 pounds, but they really did rock the competition. Stuff happens, right?

Not as if you could miss the perpetual slow-mo slideshow of U.S. team captain Alicia Sacramone falling off of the balance beam or falling onto her back during the floor exercise, but just in case you haven't gotten the whole story, here it is: The Chinese women's gymnastics team overtook the favored American team - due to a series of heartbreaking errors - to win the host country's first-ever gold in this event. Romania, which won the gold four years ago in Athens, claimed the bronze.

Twenty-year-old Sacramone, a veteran who has stayed with the sport this long especially to go for the gold in Beijing, missed her mount onto the balance beam, then went splat on her second tumbling pass in the floor exercise; additionally, she and teammates Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin all stepped out of bounds on the floor, securing themselves a second-place spot.

Controversy has surrounded the munchkin-like Chinese team, who have been accused of having half a team under the age requirement of turning 16 this year. But the international gymnastics federation has declared all members eligible, and honestly, they simply soared through their performances, beaming (pardon the pun), and just so all-around amazing and darling . . . they earned it.

Still, silver's nothing to sneeze at - king-size kudos to America's pride: Sacramone (Winchester, MA), Johnson (West Des Moines, IA), Liukin (Parker, TX), Chellsie Memmel (West Allis, WI), Samantha Peszek (McCordsville, IN) and Bridget Sloan (Pittsboro, IN).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Another solid silver went to American Gina Miles of Davis, CA, who - with her horse, McKinlaigh [both pictured above] - rode to second-place success in the equestrian individual jumping final.

German Hinrich Romeike, riding Marius, won the gold and Kristina Cook of Britain, riding Miners Frolic, got the bronze in this rare co-ed sport. Team USA's Miles moved up from fifth place after jumping two round with no penalties.

Factoid: The Olympic equestrian events are being held in Hong Kong rather than Beijing, due to quarantine restrictions in mainland China.

Monday, August 11, 2008

g3 - day 3.

G3 = Girls Gone Gold - thoughts??

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
My kids were watching Finding Nemo the other evening, so I can't help but be singing Dory's "just keep swimming" song following today's Olympic events. For the women, Day 3 was all about the pool.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Team USA's Natalie Coughlin [pictured above] won the gold in the 100-meter backstroke, becoming the first woman ever to successfully defend her title in the event.

Vallejo, CA, native Coughlin finished in 58.96 seconds; Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe - who earlier set a world record at 58.77 in the semifinals - earned the silver at 59.19, and American Margaret Hoelzer of Huntsville, AL, got the bronze at 59.34.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Britain's Rebecca Adlington won the gold in the 400-meter freestyle, running down American Katie Hoff in the last 50 meters of the race and touching the wall 7/100ths of a second earlier than Hoff.

Adlington's winning time was 4 minutes, 3.22 seconds; Hoff, of Towson, MD, earned the silver with a finishing time of 4 min., 3.29 sec.; and Adlington's teammate Joanne Jackson got the bronze at 4 min., 3.52 sec.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Australia's Leisel Jones won the gold in the 100-meter breaststroke, completing her set of Olympic medals in the event - she won the silver in 2000 and the bronze in 2004.

Jones finished a body length ahead of her competitors, touching the wall at 1 minute, 5.17 seconds. American Rebecca Soni of Plainsboro, NJ, earned the silver at 1 min., 6.73 sec., and Mirna Jukic of Austria got the bronze at 1 min., 7.34 sec.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Another Aussie, Libby Trickett, won the gold in the 100-meter butterfly, finishing at 56.73 - the fourth-fastest time in history, and just 0.12 seconds off the world record. American Christine Magnuson of Tinley Park, IL, earned the silver at 57.10, and Trickett's teammate Jess Schipper got the bronze - her first individual Olympic medal - at 57.25.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
And last but not least, thinking outside the Watercube . . . Finland's Satu Makela-Nummela won the gold in women's trap shooting, setting an Olympic record by hitting 21 targets in the finals and finishing with a total score of 91.

Slovakia's Zuzana Stefecekova, who was tied with Makela-Nummela going into the finals, earned the silver with a score of 89. American Corey Cogdell of Eagle River, AK - the youngest contender at 21 - beat three other competitors to get the bronze.

What do we do? We swim, shoot . . . :)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

amazing women olympic highlights - day 2.

I've been trying to come up with a cleverly abbre-viated name for the women compe-ting at the Olympics, but can't quite seem to get the right feel . . . wom-lypians? she-lympians? Gals of the Games? GG4G (Girls Going for the Gold)? Hmph. Let me know should you come up with a workable suggestion of your own - I'm open!!

Meanwhile, back to Beijing . . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It's been almost a quarter-century since Dara Torres first dived into an Olympic pool for a freestyle relay - but Sunday morning, the 41-year-old mom's anchor leg helped win the U.S. a silver medal, just behind the Netherlands and just before the Australians.

With this win, Los Angeles native Torres:
  • has won ten Olympic medals;
  • is the first American swimmer to compete in five Olympics; and
  • is the oldest swimming medalist of either gender - breaking the century-old standard of Britain's William Robinson, who at 38 earned the silver in the 200 breaststroke in the 1908 Games.
Of course, it took a team to gain Torres' glory - kudos, too, to Natalie Coughlin of Vallejo, CA, Kara Lynn Joyce of Ann Arbor, MI, and Lacey Nymeyer of Tucson, AZ.

Quoth Torres: "The water doesn't know what age we are."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Australian Stephanie Rice broke the world record Sunday in swimming's 400-meter Individual Medley, winning the Down Under's first gold of the Games and 400th summer Olympic medal. Rice's time of 4:29:45 and silver medalist Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe's 4:29:89 time both beat the former world record of 4:31:12, set by bronze medalist Katie Hoff at the U.S. Olympic trials just two months ago.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I hadn't realized, and therefore, neglected to mention yesterday, that the first gold medal for the Chinese was also won by a woman during Saturday's Day One Games. Chen Xiexia [pictured above] set two Olympic records as she won the gold in the women's 48-kilogram (not quite 106 lbs.) weight category.

The 25-year-old was the only athlete to successfully complete all of her six lifts in the competition, and dominated in both the snatch (in which the weight bar is raised above the head in one continuous motion) and the clean and jerk (a two-step lift in which the bar is held at shoulder level, then pushed overhead). World champion Chen lifted 209.5 pounds in the snatch and 258 pounds in the clean and jerk, an Olympic record. Her total score of 467 pounds was also an Olympic high score, besting the prior record by 4.4 pounds.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

women olympians create a winning beginning.

God, I love the Olympics.

I realize by Day Ten, I'm going to be weary of the relentless coverage (by not only NBC, but CNBC, MSNBC, USA and Oxygen, as well as Sports On-Demand . . . like there'll be anything at all left to demand!), but today, at the close of [Delayed] Day One, I'm all verklempt.

Of course, I'm also considering inviting a few friends over for an Olympic edition of the drinking game "Hi, Bob" - in the original game, you watched reruns of the old Bob Newhart Show and everybody drank every time a character said, "Hi, Bob," guaranteeing three-sheets status by evening's end; in my 2008 "Boozin' for Beijing" version, everybody drinks every time you see an image of Mao Zedong, former Chairman of the Communist Party of China . . . he's not too visible during many of the sporting events, but Friday night's opening ceremony coverage would have been quite the swigging soiree!

Anyway, a couple of quick kudos for a quartet of women athletes who started the games off with a bang. Quite literally so for Katerina Emmons of the Czech Republic, who earned the games' first gold medal with a record-setting 10-meter air rifle performance. Emmons finished with an Olympic record of 503.5 points, having shot a perfect 400 in qualifying.

She's married to American shooter Matt Emmons, who won a gold in prone rifle at Athens' 2004 Olympics. Matt will compete in both prone and three-position rifle this year; Katerina will compete in three-position as well.

"I'm more proud of her than if I was to do it myself," said her supportive spouse.
"I feel amazing," said his winning wife. And you should, Katerina - you *are* amazing.

Meanwhile, Mariel Zagunis won the United States our first gold medal of the Beijing Games, leading an American sweep in women's saber fencing. Zagunis, of Beaverton, Oregon, got the gold with her 15-8 victory over Sada Jacobson, of Dunwoody, Georgia, who won the silver [that's them paired off in the photo above-Zagunis, L, and Jacobson, R]; 18-year-old Becca Ward, of Portland, Oregon, got the bronze.

Zagunis also won the gold in Athens in 2004, becoming the first American in a century to win a fencing gold. Now, the U.S. women pose a fencing powerhouse - this same trio is seeded number-one for the saber team competition, scheduled for Thursday.

Women and weaponry - a winning Beijing blend!!