MINNEAPOLIS, JULY 7 -- The U.S. Olympic Festival began in earnest today at venues around the Twin Cities.

Action in 20 of the festival's 37 events included a step into the history books by a judo competitor, a no-hitter in women's fastpitch softball and a dominant performance by the biggest big man in the basketball tournament.

Gold medals were awarded in several low-profile events, including synchronized swimming, shooting, canoe-kayak, cycling and roller skating.

The most notable medal went to Eddie Liddie of Colorado Springs, who competes in judo at 132 pounds. By beating John Matsuoka of Daly City, Calif., for the gold medal, Liddie became the only person to win at least one medal in each of the 10 Olympic Festivals.

He has won six gold medals, along with three silvers and one bronze.

"It's something that somebody like Carl Lewis doesn't have because it's in a small sport," he said. "I have my own American amateur record and no one can touch it."

LSU center Shaquille O'Neal made his presence felt in the first men's basketball game of the competition. O'Neal had 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks to lead the South over the West, 112-110.

Malcolm Mackey of Georgia Tech, playing for the South, hurt his knee in practice Thursday and did not play. Brian Reese of the East, who will attend North Carolina, has a bad back.

In women's basketball, Tammi Reiss of the University of Virginia made two free throws late in regulation to send the game into overtime, then scored five of the East's 10 overtime points in an 81-80 victory over the North.

The 5-foot-6 guard sank 12 of 14 free throws and finished with a game-high 20 points.

"I love to have the ball in my hands in crunch situations," said Reiss, who helped the Cavaliers reach the NCAA Final Four.

In the other opening-round game, Val Whiting of NCAA champion Stanford scored her team's first 10 points and ended up with 22 to lead the West past the South, 87-76.

The West was without Coach Shelia Moorman of James Madison, who got sick two days before the Festival. Maine Coach Trish Roberts filled in.

Michelle Smith of Plainfield, N.J., got the softball competition started in style by throwing a no-hitter in the North's 2-0 victory over the West.

"My rise ball was working today," said Smith, who played at Oklahoma State.

The figure skating pairs team of Natasha Kuchiki of Canoga Park, Calif., and Todd Sand of Thousand Oaks, Calif., withdrew before the competition because of Sand's back injury.

Kuchiki and Sand were second at the 1990 U.S. Championships.

Some good sportsmanship took place Friday when the gold medal-winning team in the women's 40- kilometer cycling time trial filed a protest against itself, resulting in disqualification.

The East team won the event by nearly three minutes, but the four cyclists told race officials they had mistakenly taken an early turn on one lap of the course.

"We had to disqualify ourselves," said Ashley Davenport of Ipswich, Mass. "We knew we weren't first, and it wouldn't have felt right receiving a medal when we knew we had a mistake."