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ALPHA AND OMEGA

Alpha and Omega: Summing Up Day 3

Monday, August 16, 2004; Page D11

AN ILL WIND: The Greeks have a name for the winds that blew through Athens yesterday, bringing slight relief from Saturday's searing heat but wreaking havoc nonetheless. However, Alpha and Omega couldn't find out what that name is because the Greeks stayed away from these Games en masse yesterday.

Just kidding. The Meltemi wind, with 20-mph currents and 32 mile per hour gusts, is not dangerous, but it is annoying. It's the Paris Hilton of weather systems.


Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel of the Netherlands shouldn't fall off her bike. She swept the women's road races in Sydney, for heaven's sake. Zijlaard-Van Moorsel fell near the end of the seventh lap in the nine-lap race, suffering severe bruising on her shoulder and hip. (Laurent Rebours -- AP)


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So it's not like the Parthenon is going to blow over or anything. But the wind left its mark here yesterday. Sailboats were capsized. Umbrellas tumbled across the tennis courts. Horses in the equestrian competition were spooked by flying objects. Even arrows and shotgun shells were affected.

"This should last about 48 hours," Greek meteorologist Theodoros Kolidas said. "We expect this every year."

Now they tell us.

The wind seemed to have dire consequences yesterday for the U.S. team. The basketball bunch was embarrassed by Puerto Rico. Michael Phelps's gold medal chase took a severe hit (and is anyone surprised that his selection to the relay team wasn't warmly embraced by everyone?). The women's gymnasts performed below expectations.

The Meltemi wind is not entirely evil (again, Paris Hilton). It helped that the men's and women's eights set world records in the rowing competition yesterday. Officials got one look at those times and promptly postponed today's repechages (roughly translated: you get a second chance).

Again, Paris Hilton!

BUST OF THE DAY: You fall off your bike. I fall off my bike. But Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel of the Netherlands shouldn't fall off her bike. She swept the women's road races in Sydney, for heaven's sake. Zijlaard-van Moorsel fell near the end of the seventh lap in the nine-lap race, suffering severe bruising on her shoulder and hip. It hasn't been determined if she'll ride in Wednesday's time trial. (But wouldn't it be cool if she did ride, and put pink and white streamers on her handlebars?)

SURPRISE OF THE DAY: We know what you're thinking. But Alpha and Omega refuses to pretend to be surprised by the U.S. men's loss to Puerto Rico. This was coming like a freight train. So we'll go with a different surprise: U.S. boxer Vanes Martirosyan, 18, who moved with his family to the United States from Armenia when he was 4 years old, put together a convincing 45-20 victory over Algeria's Benamar Meskine. That gives the U.S. boxing team, expected to be weak this year, a 2-0 record. Now the bad news: Martirosyan gets Cuban Lorenzo Aragon next.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Eddie said for 10,000 Euros in small bills he'll sell it. The other coaches said he was lowballing."

-- USA Swimming spokesman Tarah Smith Pollaro, on the 4x100-meter freestyle relay team opening U.S. Coach Eddie Reese had to fill with either Michael Phelps or Gary Hall Jr. Reese later chose Phelps; the team finished third.

MALTA, MY MALTA: Mario Aquilina began sailing Lasers at the age of 15. His father also sailed Lasers, and according to one Web site, Pops didn't hesitate to point out Aquilina's mistakes. Pushy parents: shared the world over! Hopefully, he won't see yesterday's results: After two races, Mario is in 33rd place with 59 points (fewer points is better) and nine races to go, leaving Alpha and Omega wondering whether Malta was the right country to adopt for the Games.

So perhaps we need to all get behind judoka Marcon Bezzina, who competes today in the women's 57kg competition. Her first match is against the always tough Sun Hui Kye of North Korea. Go, Marcon!

SIGN OF THE ACROPOLIS: ESPN reports that American beach volleyball star Misty May asked her father to bring her late mother's cremated remains to Athens in a bottle. That's odd; our dearly departed were confiscated by the security screeners at Dulles.

-- Tracee Hamilton


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