Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Ketchum earns swim relay gold


Bhardwaj, U.S. gymnasts settle for team silver

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ATHENS - He is 22 and she is 25. Safe to say each has bigger days ahead than the one they had Wednesday. But, possibly, none more glorious.

Two Cincinnatians won medals at the Olympics Wednesday. Swimmer Dan Ketchum took a gold in the 800-meter freestyle relay at the swimming pool. Gymnast Mohini Bhardwaj saw 21 years of training end in a silver medal as a member of the U.S. women's team.

There were others. Ron Siler Jr. won his first Olympic bout and rower Greg Ruckman advanced to the semifinals of the men's lightweight double sculls. But it was Ketchum and Bhardwaj who made the day memorable for the city.

OLYMPICS
[Special section]

ketchum
Swimmer Dan Ketchum
Ketchum earns swim relay gold
Daugherty: Success comes in all colors
U.S. team gets another boost as Siler wins
Quicker start pays dividends
U.S. men's basketball team bounces back to beat Greece
Roddick is hoping to avoid a smooch from Aussie girls

Ketchum probably will retire from competitive swimming after the Olympics. He probably made his last competitive swim Tuesday morning, in the first heat of the 800-meter relay. Ketchum, a Sycamore graduate, swam the third leg of the morning heat, helping his team qualify for the evening finals with the fastest qualifying time. Ketchum wasn't completely satisfied, saying after the heat, "I'm not sure I left it all out there. I should be a little more tired."

He wasn't selected for the finals team but won a gold just the same.

"I thought about (retiring) at the (Olympic) Trials," said Ketchum, a Michigan student. "Not here. I was so nervous standing on the blocks, I just thought about swimming the race."

Bhardwaj, 25, was to have competed in two of the four women's disciplines but pinch hit in a third, the balance beam, after teammate Courtney Kupets injured a leg.

Her composure helped the U.S. women to their first Olympic team medal since 1996.

[img]
The U. S. women's gymnastics team acknowledges the crowd after receiving their silver medals. Mohini Bhardwaj is at right.
(AP photo)
Said Bhardwaj: "Silver isn't gold. But it's still precious to me."

Ruckman, the Wyoming High graduate, and his partner Steve Tucker advanced to the Group B semifinals of the men's lightweight double sculls, but didn't do it quite the way they'd hoped.

Their time in the repechage round Tuesday of 6:19.35 was good enough for second place out of four teams. That kept Ruckman in line for a medal, but will put him in a more difficult semifinal race. Ruckman had hoped he and Tucker would win the repechage.

The Group A and B semifinals are scheduled for 1:50 a.m. Thursday, Cincinnati time. The three fastest times from each of the two semifinals will advance to the finals.

Meanwhile, Siler, the Cincinnati flyweight, opened his Olympic medal quest with an impressive 32-18 decision over Australian Bradley Hore Tuesday night. Siler broke open a close fight at the end of the 2nd round with an impressive flurry of rights and lefts. He finished the round ahead 15-10 and spent the rest of the bout staying away from the Aussie's wild punches.

"I've been training for this day since 2001,'' Siler said. He got some inspiration from assistant coach Anthony Bradley, who Siler said told him, "This guy (Hore) is trying to take food out of the mouths of my kids.

"He was a little awkward. But I train with guys faster and better than him every day.''

Siler will fight again Saturday.




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OLYMPICS [Special section]
Ketchum earns swim relay gold
Daugherty: Success comes in all colors
U.S. team gets another boost as Siler wins
Quicker start pays dividends
U.S. men's basketball team bounces back to beat Greece
Roddick is hoping to avoid a smooch from Aussie girls
Local athletes' blog
Paul Daugherty's Athens blog
Latest photos from Athens

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