SPORTS

Baseball team hits home run

The national baseball team won gold at yesterday’s Olympic test event in Athens for the sport with a comfortable 5-1 win over Russia in the tournament’s final. The win by the Greek side, bolstered by ethnic Greek talent from the United States and Canada, and led by a Canadian coach, Rob Derksen, avenged a previous loss to the Russians in the tournament. The baseball competition was one of several Olympic test events held over the weekend. Organizers are now about half way through their schedule of test events, numbering approximately 40 in total. In the lead-up to the Athens Olympics, Greek baseball scouts have searched for experienced players of Greek descent while also trying to cultivate some native-born talent. In just four years, Greece has formed about 20 baseball clubs. Major League Baseball has also offered support with a full-time employee in Athens to work with the federation and young people interested in the game. The Greek-American owned Baltimore Orioles have also supported Greece’s baseball effort. Greece also fielded a finalist in the softball test event, which, however, was defeated 3-0 by the UK. All three runs were registered in the sixth of seven innings. The Czech Republic ended third in the tournament. Softball is a women’s-only sport at Olympic-level competition. At a post-match news conference, Greece’s coach, Linda Wells, expressed disappointment over her team’s second placing in the tournament. «But let’s not get greedy as the silver medal ranks as an important distinction. We can perform better as a team despite the fact that softball is not considered a national sport. But I certainly felt at home here,» Wells said. «I respect all the teams that will compete at the Olympic Games because they’re the best in the world,» she added. In another test event, the men’s handball team ended third in an international handball tournament following a 32-25 win over Egypt. The men’s final of the tennis test event, also held yesterday, was disrupted by rainfall, and will resume this morning at 10 a.m., weather permitting. The final, between two low-ranked players on the international standings, the UK’s Andrew Banks and Belgian Jeoren Masson, ranked 681st and 612th respectively, appeared to be nearing its end when officials decided to stop play. Banks had won the first set 6-2 and led 6-5 in the second with a 30-0 lead in the second set’s 12th game.