BEIJING - The U.S. finally got untracked in the track and field competition at the Olympics yesterday.
After a sluggish start over the first weekend that included no gold medals, Americans won five overall medals yesterday, including a 1-2-3 sweep in the men's 400-meter hurdles. Pole vaulter Jenn Stuczynski also won a silver medal, and Stephanie Brown Trafton won a surprise gold in the women's discus - the first for a U.S. woman in the event since 1932.
The U.S. hurdlers talked about the slow beginning for the track team at the Olympic Village and during the warm-up period for their final.
"It's a great feeling," Taylor said.
Trafton's medal was the most shocking.
She had only finished third in the U.S. Olympic trials, barely getting a ticket to Beijing at all.
But with her first throw of the night, she heaved the discus 212 feet, 5 inches. That mark stood up the rest of the evening.
"Someone told me, 'If you come to the Bird's Nest, you will have a golden egg,' " Brown Trafton said.
Stuczynski finished second to Russia's Elena Isinbaeva, who set a world record in the pole vault and was still vaulting long after everyone else had finished.
* Beach Volleyball: Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won their 12th straight Olympic match, defeating Brazil's Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro to grab one of the berths in the gold-medal match and go for their second gold medal. May-Treanor and Walsh won, 21-12, 21-14. The gold-medal game will be Thursday. The United States is down to one team in the men's semifinals. Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser advanced by beating David Klemperer and Eric Koreng of Germany, 21-13, 25-23 in a quarterfinal match. At night, Ricardo Santos and Emanuel Rego of Brazil beat the U.S. team of Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal, 21-18, 21-16. The Rogers-Dalhausser semifinal tomorrow is against Georgia.
* Baseball: In a tension-filled game in which five U.S. players were hit by pitches, the U.S. managed to crush China, 9-1. The U.S. is hanging on for a spot in the medal round. It, along with Japan, is 3-2.
* Canoe/Kayak: Rami Zur of the U.S. rallied to finish sixth in his nine-boat heat in the men's single kayak competition to advance to tomorrow's semifinals.
* Diving: The U.S. qualified two into the men's 3-meter springboard semifinals, but it still looks like a China affair. He Chong and Qin Kai led the first day. Yahel Castillo of Mexico is third. The U.S. qualified Chris Colwill in seventh and Troy Dumais in 12th.
* Equestrian: It was a glorious day for the U.S. team as it successfully defended its gold medal in the team show jumping. McLain Ward (horse Sapphire), Laura Kraut (Cedric), Will Simpson (Carlsson vom Dach) and Beezie Madden (Authentic) took it to a tiebreaker before beating Canada for the gold. Norway finished third.
* Soccer: The U.S. women's team looked strong in a 4-2 win over Japan, propelling it to Thursday's gold-medal game against Brazil. Angela Hucles score two of the U.S. goals after the U.S. fell behind 1-0.
* Softball: It's not looking as though the U.S. can be stopped. It sits atop the standings with a 7-0 record and just keeps blowing through opponents. Yesterday it was China, 9-0, in five innings, the U.S. scoring all its runs in the first. Cat Osterman picked up the win on a one-hitter. The U.S. plays Japan tomorrow in one semifinal; Canada plays Australia in the other.
* Synchronized Swimming: After the technical routine, the U.S. team of Christina Jones and Andrea Nott stood in fifth place behind the leaders, Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Ermakova of Russia. Positions two through four are filled by Spain, Japan and China. The free routine starts today.
* Triathlon : Jan Frodeno kicked past Canada's Simon Whitfield in the final 100 meters to capture the men's gold medal this morning. Frodeno, a day after his 27th birthday, finished in 1 hour, 48 minutes, 53.28 seconds. Whitfield, the 2000 Olympic champion, held on for silver in 1:48:58.47. New Zealand's Bevan Docherty, the silver medalist in 2004, bagged bronze this time in 1:49:05.59, more than eight seconds ahead of world champion Javier Gomez of Spain. On the women's side, Laura Bennett of the U.S. ended up almost 16 seconds short of a medal in fourth. Emma Snowsill of Australia won the gold with Vanessa Fernandes of Portugal getting the silver. Emma Moffat of Australia was third.
* Volleyball: The U.S. men's team is the only undefeated squad in the tournament. They closed out pool play with a 3-0 win over Japan. It plays Serbia in the quarterfinals tomorrow.
* Water Polo: The U.S. men got a double dose of good news when they beat Germany, 8-7, and Italy beat Serbia, 13-12. It meant the U.S. team gained the top seed in group B and gets a bye through the quarterfinals into Thursday's semifinals.