Thorpe's finale is unforgettable
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- This time, the Thorpedo didn't miss his mark.
Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe solidified his place as an Olympic hero Tuesday, bouncing back from defeat in the 200-meter freestyle to lead a world record-breaking 800-meter relay and win his third gold medal.
The Aussies' time of 7 minutes, 7.05 seconds capped another night of records at the pool, including the new Olympic mark Tom Malchow set as he won the United States' sixth swimming gold.
Malchow's individual glory helped salvage a day when some U.S. teams took a dive. Japan snapped the American softball team's 112-game winning streak and the U.S. women's water polo squad suffered its first defeat at the Olympics. Both teams still could win a gold.
Malchow shouted, pumped his arms furiously and pointed at the crowd after swimming 1:55.35 to beat the mark he set in prelims.
"For four years, I've wanted that moment," he said. "I can't think of anything better."
Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband, the man who shocked Thorpe -- and about every other Aussie -- by winning the 200 free Monday, also set another world record Tuesday. He swam 47.84 seconds in semifinals of the 100 free.
Thorpe, just 17, became Australia's most-celebrated citizen Saturday night when he won the 400-meter freestyle and then touched the wall first in an epic 400-free relay victory over the United States.
After settling for silver Monday, Thorpe made sure his 2000 Olympic finale didn't turn out the same way.
He led off for the Australian relay, effortlessly cut through the water and staked his team to an insurmountable lead over the United States.
By the time William Kirby finished the final lap, it wasn't a question of whether Australia would beat its own record of 7:08.79, but rather just how much it would lower the mark.
The U.S. softball team had won 112 games in a row, but a frustrating 2-1 loss to Japan in 11 innings broke the streak.
The Japanese beat the United States for the first time ever and halted a run of U.S. victories that dated back to the 1998 world championships.
Star second baseman Dot Richardson committed two errors that allowed both Japanese runs to score in the top of the 11th.
The United States lacked offensive punch, too. The Americans stranded 20 runners and loaded the bases in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings but couldn't get anyone home.
"I apologized to everyone because I feel responsible," Richardson said.
The silver lining for the United States (2-1) is it still has an excellent chance to advance to the medal round and defend the gold medal it won in 1996.
-- BASKETBALL: This Dream Team kept on winning.
A few hours after the U.S. softball lost for the first time in two years, the men's basketball team continued to dominate the Olympic tournament, routing Italy 93-61.
Spectacular dunks by Ray Allen and Antonio McDyess highlighted a 14-0, second-half run that put the game away.
Tim Hardaway hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put an exclamation point on the blowout.
-- BOXING: Now the Americans are 7-for-7.
Jose Navarro won his first Olympic fight at 112 pounds to keep the United States boxers unbeaten at the Sydney Games. He outpointed Hermensen Ballo of Indonesia 16-10.
Boxers from traditional Olympic power Cuba also have won in all of their first seven fights.
--TENNIS: Monica Seles made quick work of Katalin Marosi-Aracama of Hungary, opening the women's singles tournament with a 6-0, 6-1 victory that took just 48 minutes.
Seles is seeded No. 3 in the women's tournament, with two other Americans ranked ahead of her: top-seeded Lindsay Davenport and second-ranked Venus Williams.
The tournament's already over for Vince Spadea and Todd Martin. Australian Pat Rafter beat Spadea in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, while German Rainer Schuttler defeated Martin 6-2, 6-0.
Playing without Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, the U.S. men are down to Michael Chang and Jeff Tarango in men's singles.
-- WATER POLO: Their Australian surroundings must be rubbing off on the U.S. women's water polo team. Their reaction to their first defeat of the Olympics: no worries.
"It's the past," goalkeeper Nicolle Payne said.
Australian Bridgette Gusterson scored the game-winner as the Aussies beat the United States 7-6. The Americans still are likely make the medal round of the Olympic tournament.
-- EQUESTRIAN: A bad break for New Zealand, a lucky one for the United States equestrian squad.
The Americans started Tuesday in fourth place but moved up to third and took the bronze medal in the three-day team event. New Zealand had been in third place, but two of its horses pulled up lame, so it couldn't complete the event.
Australia won the gold medal and Britain took the silver.
-- ARCHERY: It was a sweep for South Korea in women's individual archery. Yun Mi-jin beat compatriot Kim Nam-soon in the championship match, while Kim Soo-nyung defeated North Korean Choe Ok Sil for the bronze medal. No Americans advanced to final rounds of competition on Tuesday.
-- BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Rob Heidger and Kevin Wong split two consolation matches but still wound up making the final 16 of the men's tournament based on point differential. Heidger and Wong play the Mexican duo of Juan Ibarra and Joel Sotelo on Friday.