Olympic Highlights: Beach Volleyball, Handball

Aug 8, 2012
Originally published on August 8, 2012 5:15 pm
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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Audie Cornish. The U.S. has won a gold medal in beach volleyball. Now, hold on, before you yell at your radio, we haven't ruined the drama of NBC's tape-delayed Olympics broadcast. Both teams competing for the gold today were from the U.S. Here to tell us which Americans won gold and to give us an update from around the games is NPR's Mike Pesca. So, Mike, beach volleyball gold went to...

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Well, the one who always wins it: Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. They won gold in 2008, in 2004 - one point to add, like 112-game win streak. And to be fair, their competition - April Ross and Jennifer Kessy - they maybe weren't even supposed to be in that gold medal game, so they were quite happy to win silver. There was a little more drama than the track record of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh would indicate because there was some retirement, and there was a break after Beijing for kids. Kerri Walsh had a couple of sons: Joey and Sundance, if you are wondering. And so coming into the Olympics, people were saying I wonder if they could do it again. Yeah. They did it again. They did it crushingly, let's say.

CORNISH: Now, there was also some news in track and field today. Allyson Felix was the favorite in the 200 meters. So what happened there?

PESCA: She got it done. She has won world championships, but that gold medal in the Olympics has always eluded her. She got it today. She won, let's say, easily in a sport where winning by, you know, 0.2 seconds is easy, but Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who won the 100, of Jamaica, she didn't really strongly challenge her and she - Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce came at second, and Carmelita Jeter, she won the bronze.

CORNISH: I want to ask about women boxers, right? How did the U.S. do in the ring?

PESCA: Well, the women are the bright spot of the U.S. boxing team, the only bright spot. And though Marlen Esparza lost today, it does mean that she gets a bronze medal. And Claressa Shields, who's the best boxer on the team, fights on to the finals, and that means she'll either get a silver or a gold medal. Now, this means that you'll read reports that say - will say U.S. boxing won silver, gold, but, you know, U.S. boxing does not include - there haven't been women in the Olympics up until this year.

So if we just look at the men and you compare it from year to year, it is the only year where U.S. men have never won a medal. And the reason is - and I was talking to a U.S. boxer - the sport, Olympic boxing, has diverged so completely, not just from professional boxing, but kind of amateur Golden Gloves boxing that everyone knows. It's derided. It's a game of tag. It's all about scoring points. And the Americans weren't even that upset. They did as best they can, but we just don't do well under the rules of Olympic boxing. These rules are going to be changed for Rio. For instance, the boxers won't be wearing headgear, and if you knock a guy down, it will writ down to your benefit.

CORNISH: Now, what else caught your ear from today's action?

PESCA: I'm glad you asked because I bring you now to the quarterfinals of men's handball. There, we have Iceland, a small country, but they did win the silver last Olympics, which is pretty amazing when we're talking about a country the size of Bakersfield, California. They were up - they were actually up one with 14 seconds left. They were taking a penalty shot. Penalty shots almost always go in in handball. This one didn't. The Hungarians rebounded it, raced up court, scored the equalizer.

The game went into overtime. The Hungarians won, and the coach performed a very thrilling dance. I don't know exactly what kind of Hungarian dance. It was - I did a little research. I think it was the verbunkos. But if anyone saw that, please tell me what kind of thrilling Hungarian dance they did to upset the heretofore unbeaten Icelandic team.

CORNISH: All right. Mike, looking forward to you recreating that. NPR's Mike Pesca from London. Thanks so much.

PESCA: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.