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Archive for Friday, July 9, 2004

Okafor added to U.S. basketball team

July 9, 2004

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— The chance to win an Olympic gold medal just months after an NCAA title was too good for Emeka Okafor to turn down.

Okafor was selected for the U.S. Olympic basketball team Thursday, filling the final spot on the squad headed to the Athens Games.

"I came off a national championship, and now I have a chance to get a gold medal," he said. "That's one of the reasons I jumped at this opportunity. I'm really looking forward to it."

Okafor, the second overall pick in the NBA draft by the expansion Carolina Bobcats, was officially added to the team along with Carmelo Anthony, Carlos Boozer, Lamar Odom and Dwyane Wade.

Okafor, who starred at Connecticut, is the only player on the team who has yet to play in the NBA.

"I think his selection is the neatest one," U.S. Olympic coach Larry Brown said. "He's been three years in college and had an incredible career."

Okafor played for the U.S. team in last year's Pan Am Games, bringing some international experience to a young team. The players will be an average of 23.6 years old when the games begin.

"I learned in the Pan Am Games that the international game is played a little different," Okafor said. "They have a great understanding of the game and stick to the fundamentals."

The rest of the U.S. team going to the Aug. 13-29 games is: Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Richard Jefferson, Stephon Marbury, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire.

USA Basketball also confirmed that five players previously named to the team -- Mike Bibby, Jason Kidd, Karl Malone, Tracy McGrady and Jermaine O'Neal -- have withdrawn because of injuries or personal reasons.

Thompson likely Olympian

Long Beach, Calif. -- Jenny Thompson wasn't ready to give up swimming. Now, she'll likely finish her career with a fourth trip to the Olympics.

Thompson finished second in the 100-meter butterfly at the U.S. Olympic trials on Thursday, which should be good enough to get the 31-year-old, 10-time medalist to the Athens Games.

Only one other American swimmer, former Thompson rival Dara Torres, has competed in four Olympics.

For the second night in a row, the temporary pool next to Long Beach harbor produced a world record. Brendan Hansen broke the mark in the men's 100 breaststroke, dominating the field with a time of 59.30 seconds.

The expected duel with Ed Moses never materialized. The Sydney silver medalist missed a spot on the team by finishing sixth, nearly 3 seconds behind Hansen.

The top two in each event are expected to represent the United States in Sydney. That bodes well for Thompson, who put off her medical career to go for a fourth Olympics.

Rachel Komisarz touched the wall first in 58.77, while Thompson held on for second at 58.98. She barely nipped Demerae Christianson, who was 0.11 seconds behind in third.

Torch makes last stop

Paphos, Cyprus -- Thousands of Greek Cypriots welcomed the Olympic torch on its arrival Thursday at the last stop on its tour of 33 countries before returning to host nation Greece.

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