Beijing 2008: Day By Day

Compiled by Dave Sheinin
AUGUST: 9 | 10 | 11  | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24
Aug. 9: You'll Always Remember
American fencers Mariel Zagunis, Sada Jacobson and Becca Ward sweeping the medals in women's sabre. With former president George H.W. Bush looking on from the front row, the trio shared a tearful group hug after the medal ceremony, prompting Bush to lean down and offer his handkerchief to Jacobson, who gratefully wiped away her tears and handed it back.

You Shouldn't Forget
Americans Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, heavily favored for gold in men's beach volleyball, getting stunned by Latvia in their opening match. . . . Chinese weightlifter Chen Xiexia winning the first gold medal for the host country in the 48kg division. . . . Michael Phelps presaging a triumphant meet by setting an Olympic record during qualifying for the men's 400-meter individual medley, his first of 17 races over nine days.

Aug. 10: You'll Always Remember
Phelps launching his quest for "8 in '08" by winning the 400 individual medley in a world record time of 4 minutes 3.84 seconds, in front of an enthusiastic crowd that included President Bush. It was thought that Phelps could be challenged in the event by Hungary's Laszlo Cseh and American teammate Ryan Lochte, but he won by 2.32 seconds and lowered his own world mark by 1.41 seconds.

You Shouldn't Forget
A capacity crowd of 18,000 (and an estimated 1 billion television viewers) watching the United States trounce host China by 31 points in the opener for both teams in men's basketball. . . . Forty-one-year-old Dara Torres leading the United States to a silver medal in the women's 4x100 women's freestyle . . . The U.S. men's volleyball team, playing without head coach Hugh McCutcheon following the murder of his father-in-law, beating Venezuela in its opening match. . . . Medal hopeful Kate Ziegler, of Great Falls, failing to qualify for the 400 freestyle finals.

Aug. 11: You'll Always Remember
Thirty-two-year-old Jason Lezak keeping alive Michael Phelps's quest by swimming a blistering anchor leg in the men's 4x100 freestyle relay to edge the French team and give the Americans the gold in a world record time. On the pool deck after his strong first leg, Phelps, who had swum a semifinal in the men's 200 freestyle just 67 minutes earlier, rooted Lezak home, then unleashed a vein-popping, primal scream when the results were posted.

You Shouldn't Forget
Towson, Md., native Katie Hoff losing her lead on the final lap of the women's 400 freestyle and settling for silver behind Britain's Rebecca Adlington. . . . Bethesda's Scott Parsons failing to advance in men's whitewater kayak after missing a gate during his second run and being assessed a 52-second penalty.

Aug. 12: You'll Always Remember
American swimmers Natalie Coughlin and Aaron Peirsol crawling, if only briefly, out of Phelps's shadow to secure golds in the 100 women's and men's backstrokes. Coughlin's performance gave the U.S. women their first swimming gold of the meet, while Peirsol broke his own world record. Phelps, meantime, earned his third gold in three tries with a world record-setting performance in the finals of the men's 200-meter freestyle, lowering his own mark by nearly a full second and beating the rest of the field by nearly two seconds.

You Shouldn't Forget
The U.S. squad taking bronze in the men's gymastics team competiton behind China and Japan, despite losing the services of both Hamm brothers to injuries in the 10 days leading up to the competition. . . . American boxer Rau'shee Warren, the defending world champion and a two-time Olympian, suffering a stunning loss to South Korea's Lee Ok-sung in the round of 32. . . . The U.S. softball team, winner of the only three golds since the sport's Olympic debut, rolling in its opener over Venezuela, 11-0.

Aug. 13: You'll Always Remember
Phelps doubling up for his fourth and fifth golds of the meet -- and his 10th and 11th as an Olympian, setting an all-time record. His golds in the 200 butterfly (considered his signature event) and the 4x200 freestyle relay were both world records, of course, and his win in the butterfly came despite the fact his goggles filled with water about halfway through the race.

You Shouldn't Forget
Hoff, in the same swimming session, failing to medal in either the 200 freestyle or 200- individual medley. . . . Team captain Alicia Sacramone stumbling on both the balance beam and floor exercize and costing the U.S. women's gymnastics team a shot at gold in the team competition, which was won by China. . . . Kristin Armstrong earning just the second U.S. gold ever in women's cycling, winning the time trials competition.

Aug. 14: You'll Always Remember
Roger Federer, Venus Williams and Serena Williams all falling on a rainy Thursday night in the tennis quarterfinals. Federer, whose hold on the world No. 1 ranking was coming to and end, lost to American James Blake, who was 0-8 against Federer entering the match, while the Williams sisters combined to make 119 unforced errors in their losses.

You Shouldn't Forget
Ziegler and Hoff, medal favorites in the women's 800 freestyle, both failing to qualify for the finals. . . . Medal contending Greco-Roman wrestler Brad Vering, an assistant coach at American University, bowing out with a second-round loss in the 84kg division. . . . Stephen Strasburg, a San Diego State right-hander and the probable No. 1 overall draft pick next June (hello, Nationals), throwing seven dominant innings in the U.S. baseball team's win over the Netherlands.

Aug. 15: You'll Always Remember
American gymnasts Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson taking gold and silver, respectively, in the women's all-around competition. Liukin narrowly led China's Yang Yilin entering the final event, the floor exercise, with Johnson in third, but Yang faltered while the Americans both nailed their routines, allowing Johnson to jump into second place. Liukin's win prevented the Chinese from sweeping the four most prestigious gymnastics events -- the men's and women's team, and men's and women's all-around.

You Shouldn't Forget
Phelps winning gold No. 6, another world record, in the 200 individual medley. . . . Americans Rebecca Soni and Ryan Lochte taking golds in the women's 200 breaststroke and men's 200 backstroke. . . . Usain Bolt, on the track for the first time, advancing easily in the first round of qualifying for the men's 100 meters. . . . James Blake, after losing to Chile's Fernando Gonzalez in men's tennis, ripping his opponent as a poor sportsman after Gonzalez didn't confirm Blake's account of a disputed point. . . . Natasha Kai sending the U.S. women's soccer team into the semifinals by scoring on a header in the 101st minute for a 2-1 win over Canada.

Aug. 16: You'll Always Remember
Phelps and Bolt bookending the day with transcendent performances. In the morning, Phelps came from back in the pack to nip Serbia's Milorad Cavic by a fingertip in the men's 100 butterfly, Phelps's seventh gold medal of the Games, while Jamaica's Bolt, in the evening, set a world record of 9.69 seconds in the men's 100 dash despite pounding his chest and prancing across the finish line, punctuating the win with a raucous celebration on the track.

You Shouldn't Forget
American Tyson Gay stunningly failing to qualify for the 100 dash finals during the semifinal heats. . . . Britain's Rebecca Adlington breaking Janet Evans's 19-year-old world record in winning the women's 800 freestyle. . . . The U.S. women's table tennis team, featuring Gao Jun of Gaithersburg, bowing out in the bronze medal playoff bracket, the furthest the United .S. has ever advanced in table tennis. . . . Nineteen-year-old American Vincent Hancock winning a shoot-off for the the gold in men's skeet shooting. . . . American middleweight Shawn Estrada, fighting for his dying father back home in Los Angeles, losing his second-round bout. . . . U.S. "Redeem Team" veteran Kobe Bryant sending Spain's Pau Gasol to the floor with a forearm shiver in the Americans' 37-point win.

Aug. 17: You'll Always Remember
Michael Phelps cementing his place in Olympics history by winning his eighth gold medal -- a record for a single Games -- in the men's 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay. Phelps ran the third leg, after Aaron Peisol and Brendan Hansen and before Jason Lezak, as the U.S. team shaved more than a full second off the world record it set in Athens four years earlier.

You Shouldn't Forget
Jamaican women sweeping the medals in the women's 100-meter dash, the first time the U.S. had been shut out in the event since 1976. . . . U.S. swimmer Dara Torres losing to Germany's Britta Steffen by 0.01 seconds in the women's 50-meter freestyle, settling for silver. . . . Romania's Constantina Tomescu-Dita, a 38-year-old mother of one, winning the women's marathon. . . . Venus and Serena Williams taking gold in women's tennis doubles, and Rafael Nadal, the soon-to-be world No. 1, winning men's singles. . . . U.S. gymnasts Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin taking silver and bronze in the women's floor exercize. . . . All three Americans, including Opening Ceremonies flag-bearer Lopez Lomong, failing to qualify in the men's 1,500 meter run.

Aug. 18: You'll Always Remember
Chinese superstar Liu Xiang, a national icon, walking off the track before his heat in the men's 110-meter hurdles and withdrawing due to a right foot injury, causing confusion around the Bird's Nest and leading to a memorable news conference in which Liu's coach wept openly. Liu was clearly in pain during warmups, but attempted to compete in his heat anyway, finally giving up after wincing in agony as he rose from the blocks during a false start.

You Shouldn't Forget
U.S. gymnast Nastia Liukin losing the gold medal to China's He Kexin in the uneven bars, despite the fact they finished with the same scores; Kexin was awarded the gold, and Liukin the silver, based on an obscure tiebreak system. . . . The Redeem Team cruising to a 106-57 thrashing of Dirk Novitzki and Germany, wrapping up pool play with a 5-0 record. [ellipses] Americans, led by Angelo Taylor, sweeping the medals in the 400-meter hurdles. . . . A good night for U.S. field athletes, with Stephanie Brown Trafton earning America's first gold in women's discus since 1932 and pole vaulter Jenn Stuczynzki taking silver. . . . The U.S. equestrian team taking gold in team jumping.

Aug. 19: You'll Always Remember
Medal hopefuls Sanya Richards and Lolo Jones, on another disappointing day for the U.S. at the track, faltering in the women's 400 meters and women's 100-meter hurdles, coming away with only a bronze medal -- for Richards -- when two golds would not have been a surprise. Richards, considered the dominant women's 400-meter runner in the world, was passed by two runners in the final 50 meters of the face, while Jones was undone when she bumped the second-to-last hurdle, finishing seventh. Dawn Harper salvaged the night for the U.S., taking advantage of Jones's stumble to grab the gold.

You Shouldn't Forget
Gymnast Shawn Johnson winning the gold medal in the balance beam, finally adding a gold to her collection of three silvers. Teammate Jonathan Horton took silver in the men's high bar. . . . Chinese divers extending their streak of golds to six-for-six, with He Chong easily winning the men's 3-meter springboard. . . . The U.S. women's basketball team blowing out South Korea by 44 points to advance to the semifinals.

Aug. 20: You'll Always Remember
Bolt authoring another electrifying performance on the track, this time running all the way through the finish line in the 200-meter dash to break Michael Johnson's once-untouchable world record, set in Atlanta in 1996. Bolt, who turned 22 about 90 minutes after the race, posted a time of 19.30 seconds, 0.02 better than Johnson's mark. Behind Bolt, two sprinters were disqualified for running out of their lanes, allowing Americans Shawn Crawford and Walter Dix to take silver and bronze.

You Shouldn't Forget
China's men's basketball team, led by superstar Yao Ming, eliminated in the quarterfinals by Lithuania. . . . Jamaica's Melanie Walker continuing her country's dominance on the track, taking gold and setting an Olympic record in the women's 400-meter hurdles. . . . American BMX rider Kyle Bennett crashing during a quarterfinal heat and suffering a dislocated shoulder, but qualifying anyway and vowing to race in the semis -- which he did. . . . Rohullah Nikpai winning Afghanistan's first medal in its history, taking the bronze in the 58-kg division of men's taekwondo.

Aug. 21: You'll Always Remember
The U.S. softball team, the most dominant Olympic squad this side of the Redeem Team, getting shocked by Japan, 3-1, in the gold medal game, breaking a streak of 22 straight wins for the Americans in the Olympics dating to 2000. Prior to the loss, the United States had outscored opponents by a margin of 57-2 while going 8-0, including a 4-1 win over Japan the day before. Even worse than the loss, the game may have been the last for softball as an Olympic sport, as the IOC has already voted it out for 2012 and will vote on reinstatement in 2016.

You Shouldn't Forget
More disappointment at the track for the U.S., as both the men's and women's 4x100 relay teams drop the baton during qualifying heats, earnings disqualifications. . . . Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh beating China in straight sets to win the gold medal in women's beach volleyball. The Americans, winners of 108 straight matches overall, did not lose a set during the Olympic tournament. . . . Carli Lloyd scoring in the 96th minute against Brazil to give the U.S. women's soccer team the gold medal and earn a measure of redemption for controversial goalie Hope Solo. . . . IOC President Jacques Rogge criticizing Bolt's behavior as disrespectful to other competitors.

Aug. 22: You'll Always Remember
Bolt, in the third leg, seizing control of the men's 4x100 relay final, handing off to teammate Asafa Powell and trailing behind as Powell crossed the finish line in a world-record time of 37.10 seconds -- giving Bolt his third gold and third world record of the Games. Bolt and Powell, equal parts friends and rivals during the rest of the season, hugged afterwards and took a victory lap with the other two members of the relay team.

You Shouldn't Forget
American decathlete Bryan Clay holding on during a grueling 1,500 run -- the last of the 10 decathlon events, and Clay's worst one -- to earn the unofficial title of "World's Greatest Athlete." . . . Six-foot-nine phenom Phil "The Thin Beach" Dalhausser giving another dominant performance in lifting himself and teammate Todd Rogers to the gold medal in men's beach volleyball. . . . Americans earning three of the six medals awarded in BMX's Olympic debut. . . . Heavyweight Deontay Wilder winning the bronze, the only medal for the U.S. in boxing.

Aug. 23: You'll Always Remember
The U.S. women's 4x400 team of Mary Wineburg, Allyson Felix, Monique Henderson and Sanya Richards fighting its way to gold, putting behind personal disappointments for Felix (silver in the 200) and Richards (bronze in the 400). The men's 4x400 team -- which featured three runners who helped sweep the individual event -- followed with gold of its own, a race started by gold medalist LaShawn Merritt and finished by silver medalist Jeremy Wariner.

You Shouldn't Forget
The final Olympic game for basketball star Lisa Leslie, who helped the U.S. women to a victory over Australia to win her fourth Olympic gold. . . . The brilliant women of Brazil with an impressive win for the volleyball gold medal over a game squad from the United States, who hadn't won a medal since 1984 but came away with silver. . . . Matthew Mitcham of Australia preventing a Chinese sweep of all the diving events by winning the 10-meter platform competition, setting off a tear-filled celebration. . . . Cuban taekwondo athlete Angel Matos kicking a referee in the face.

Aug. 24: You'll Always Remember
So much was made of American international basketball in the last eight years, what with subpar performances in the world championships and a once-unfathomable bronze in 2004 in Athens. But on this day, the U.S. set things straight, blowing open a four-point game against Spain to win the gold behind Dwyane Wade's 24 points. After seven straight blowouts, this was the one true test, and it wasn't sealed until Kobe Bryant, who added 20 points, converted a four-point play with just more than three minutes remaining.

You Shouldn't Forget
Kenyan Samuel Kamau Wanjiru adding to his country's deep legacy in distance running by taking its first gold medal in the Olympic marathon. . . . The valiant U.S. men's volleyball team, who overcame the murder of their coach's father-in-law in downtown Beijing before the Games started to win an unexpected gold over Brazil. . . . The U.S. men's water polo team, which hadn't been on an Olympic medal podium since 1988 yet came away with silver. Their run ended in the gold medal match against Hungary, which won its third consecutive Olympic title.

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