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U.S. Grabs Four Medals at Pan Am Games

August 10, 2003

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) _ The Americans closed the Pan American Games track and field competition in style Saturday night, grabbing four medals, including three in the relays.

That helped make up for the women’s basketball team loss in the gold medal game to Cuba hours after it survived a protest by Brazil.

For a time, the U.S. runners had another gold, as well.

Larry Wade was in a tight race in the 110-meter hurdles with Cuba’s Yunier Hernandez. Wade was announced originally as the winner.

``I knew I won,″ Wade said shortly after race. ``There was no question.″

But there was.

After examining the photo finishes, an official had Hernandez first in 13.35 seconds, and Wade in second with the same time. Wade said he didn’t find out about the change in results until approximately two hours after the race, when Hernandez showed him a printout of the results.

``I don’t know what to say, I didn’t expect this,″ said Hernandez, who broke down in tears when told he’d won. ``I know what my limits are and I knew there were at least two athletes better than me _ Wade and Dudley Dorival (of Haiti, who finished fifth).″

Hernandez had hamstring surgery last November and was competing in his first big international event since recovering.

U.S. coach Fred Harvey filed a protest, saying ``We’re protesting the reading of the photo. We feel that it was read incorrectly.″ He said no decision was expected until Sunday.

There was no doubt about American domination of the relays.

The Americans took first in the men’s and women’s 400-meter relays, and the women’s 1,600 relay. In the last race, the men’s 1,600 relay, the United States lost the lead in the home stretch, finishing second to Jamaica.

``It was something we owed our country and we screwed up,″ Mitchell Potter, who won the individual 400 on Friday, said of the relay performance.

Melissa Mueller (Simi Valley. Calif.) won the women’s pole vault, clearing 14 feet, 5 1/4 inches.

In women’s basketball, the Cubans, who have won five straight against the Americans in the less than a month, took the championship 75-64. They mobbed each other at midcourt after the victory, with tears flowing and Cuban flags waving.

Still, the U.S. women managed to do more than the men, who lost to Brazil in the bronze medal game Wednesday, 76-70.

Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown scored 16 points to lead the silver medalists.

Hours before the game, Brazil filed its appeal of the semifinal loss to the United States. But Anibal Garcia of Puerto Rico, the technical director of COPABA, which oversees the tournament, said the protest was rejected.

The United States beat Brazil 75-69 in overtime, although play-by-play sheets compiled by USA Basketball and media members showed the Americans had only 14 points after the first quarter, not 15, as the official stats indicated. The Brazilian coach said following Friday night’s defeat that there was no problem with the scoring and the team would not appeal.

But before the bronze medal game with Canada, the Brazilians walked off the court, saying they intended to forfeit in protest. They changed their minds and beat Canada 57-46 for the bronze.

``They submitted a protest that wasn’t really a protest because they didn’t submit it on time,″ Garcia said. ``They should have made the protest before the game was over. There’s no way we can go through a protest, whether there was a mistake or not.″

The Brazilians said they would appeal to FIBA, the international governing body for basketball.

``They should improve the people working.″ said Bobby Beck, vice president of Brazil’s basketball federation.

The U.S. women’s handball team saw its shot at an Olympic berth disappear with a 29-26 overtime loss to heavily favored Argentina. The Americans will play Uruguay on Tuesday for the bronze medal.

With 34 seconds to play in regulation, Alyssa McKenna (New York) tied the game at 24. Argentina had a last-second goal disallowed, but dominated in the extra session.

Edina Batar (Budapest, Hungary) had 11 goals for the United States.

``Coming into this whole tournament, we were the underdogs in a big way,″ team captain Lisa Eagen (Oskaloosa, Iowa) said, ``and not only did we get better throughout, we started to play with authority. ... This whole experience makes a statement for our program that we’re building.″

Also making a statement in the Pan Ams has been Marcelo Rios, once the world’s top-ranked tennis player and now 43rd. The Chilean edged Alex Kim of Potomac, Md., 7-6 (9), 7-6 (4) to make the finals against Brazil’s Ferdinand Meligeni.

``I’m not at the level I have been in the past, but I will still win the title in my present condition,″ Rios said.

Meligeni will be playing his final match after 13 years on tour. That didn’t faze Rios.

``I’m indifferent,″ he said. ``I’ve played finals of major tournaments and I am used to the pressure and different types of opponents. I also know how to control anxiety and remain calm.″

After winning two races Saturday, Lanee Butler (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) clinched a gold medal in Mistral sailing with two races remaining.

``I’m ecstatic I won the gold medal, because I haven’t competed in an international competition since the Sydney Olympics,″ she said.

The U.S. men’s rifle team finished off a gold medal sweep as Jason Parker (Omaha, Neb.) and Eric Uptagrafft (Spokane, Wash.) went 1-2 in the 50-meter, then Randy Sotowa (Arcadia, Calif.) won men’s skeet.

Brazilians swept the marathon. Vanderlei Lima won the men’s race in 2 hours, 19 minutes, 8 seconds. Nineteen runners started the race, but six dropped out.

Marcia Narloch captured the women’s gold in 2:39.54.

Justin Orenduff of Chesapeake, Va., threw a two-hitter and struck out eight as the Americans beat Brazil 7-0 in baseball. Cuba’s powerful team eliminated the hosts 10-0 in eight innings, even though the Dominicans had 13 former major leaguers on the squad.

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