Cancer survivor Kevin Hall, who needed clearance to sail in the Olympics because of his required testosterone injections, finished in the top half of the Finn fleet in his Summer Games debut yesterday.
Hall had finishes of 11th and seventh in the opening two races and was tied on points for eighth with Ali Enver Adakan of Turkey, although Adakan had a second-place finish in the first race. Hall was nine points out of third place with nine races left.
An America's Cup veteran, Hall has been sailing the Finn just more than a year. Although he dominated the winner-take-all U.S. Olympic trials in February, he faced five frustrating months of red tape as he sought a therapeutic use exemption for his testosterone use.
Because his testicles were removed during his three-year fight against cancer, he needs weekly injections of the steroid, which is on the International Olympic Committee's banned list. He finally received clearance July 7.
Hall, of Bowie, chose not to meet with reporters afterward.
"I feel lucky to be here," he said in a statement released by U.S. Sailing. "I just wish I had slightly more luck out on the water. I'm looking forward to the rest of the regatta."
Two other U.S. crews got off to good starts.
Paul Foerster of Rockwall, Tex., and Kevin Burnham of Miami were third overall in the 470 class after winning the opening race and taking eighth in the second race. Both are previous silver medalists, with Foerster winning his in the 470 at Sydney and in the Flying Dutchman at Barcelona. Burnham took the silver in 1992 in the 470.
Middleweight Andre Dirrell got the U.S. team off to a strong start, beating China's Ha Dabateer, 25-18.
A well-regarded lefty, Dirrell counterpunched his way to an easy victory in the second fight of the day at Peristeri Olympic Boxing Hall as the other eight members of the U.S. team cheered him on. The two-time national champion, and one of the top U.S. medal hopefuls, was content to let Ha chase him around the ring in the early stages. He came on strong late in the four-round bout, consistently landing counterpunches against the overeager Chinese fighter.
Li Du of China won the Games' first gold medal, setting an Olympic record in the women's 10-meter air rifle.
Li scored 10.6 on her final shot, surpassing Lioubov Galkina of Russia and setting an Olympic record with 502 points. Galkina had led throughout the round, but got only 9.7 on her final shot -- her lowest mark. Katerina Kurkova from the Czech Republic won the bronze.
Wang Yifu got China's second gold medal, winning the men's 10-meter air pistol on the final shot with an Olympic record 690 points. Russians Mikhail Nestruev and Vladimir Isakov took the silver and bronze, respectively.
Two-time defending gold medalist Australia was upset by Germany, 2-1, on the first day of women's pool play.
Nadine Ernsting Krienke and Silke Mueller scored in the first half for Germany.
Juan Garcia scored six goals, and three other players added four goals each as Spain edged South Korea.
Manual Colon, Talant Dujshebaev and Fernando Hernandez scored four goals apiece. South Korea was led by Paek Won Chul and Yoon Kyung Min with six goals each.
Tadahiro Nomura of Japan won the gold medal in men's 60kg class for the third straight Olympics. Teammate Ryoko Tani won her second straight gold in the women's 48kg class.
Nomura beat Nestor Khergiani of Georgia. Choi Min Ho of South Korea and Tsagaanbaatar Khashbaatar of Mongolia shared the bronze. Tani defeated France's Frederique Jossinet in a repeat of the 2003 world final where Tani won her sixth straight world crown.
The 48kg bronze medals went to Julia Matijass of Germany and Feng Gao of China.
Jennie Finch didn't allow a hit in three innings, and the United States began its run toward a third straight gold medal with a shortened 7-0 victory over Italy.
Natasha Watley went 4 for 4, hitting a two-run triple in the fifth inning to put the United States up by seven runs, invoking the mercy rule that ended the game.
Americans Ilija Lupulesku and Jasna Reed, who won medals for Yugoslavia at the Seoul Olympics in 1988, each won their first-round matches. Lupulesku advanced with a 4-0 win over Juan Papic of Chile in men's singles, while Reed beat the Czech Republic's Renata Strbikova, 4-2, in women's singles.
American Tawny Banh also advanced, but Khoa Nguyen lost to Australia's William Hentzell.
France's Pi Hongyan, the No. 8 seed in women's singles, lost her first-round match against Seo Yoon Hee from South Korea, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, in the biggest upset on the opening day of competition at Goudi Olympic Hall. Top-seeded Gong Ruina of China trailed Singapore's Li Li in the first set before rallying to win, 11-9, 11-4.
Mali upset Greece, 2-0, to put the host in danger of exiting the Olympic tournament in the first round.
First-half goals by Mamadi Berthe and Tenema Ndiaye put the Africans in control, while Greece squandered chances to get back in the game and even missed a penalty kick in injury time.
In other matches, Carlos Tevez and Javier Saviola put Argentina into the quarterfinals with a victory over Tunisia. Australia routed Serbia and Montenegro thanks to two goals each from John Aloisi and Ahmad Elrich. South Korea edged Mexico on a goal from Kim Jung Woo.
Turkey's Nurcan Taylan pulled off a huge surprise in the opening event of Olympic weightlifting, turning a world record lift into an upset of heavily favored Li Zhuo of China in the 1051/2-pound (48kg) weight class.
The loss was a stunning start for China's women's weightlifting powerhouse, whose assistant coach had predicted a sweep of all four events it could enter. China was 4 for 4 in the sport's debut in Sydney.
Defending gold medalist Tara Cunningham of the United States wasn't a factor, dropping the bar on her left leg on her second lift en route to finishing 11th of 14. Thailand's Aree Wiratthaworn won the bronze.