SPORTS

Women’s water polo team beats Australia to romp to the final

In the major Olympic event of the day for Greek athletes, the women’s water polo team qualified for the final. Greece easily defeated Australia 6-2 to advance to the final where it will meet Italy, which came from behind in the fourth quarter to defeat the United States 6-5. Greece stunned the Australians right from the start, scoring two quick goals in the first 73 seconds of the game. Australia clawed one back but Greece scored two more to close the first seven-minute quarter 4-1 ahead. In the second quarter, Greece added one more goal and, late in the third, Australia made it 5-2. However, Greece scored on a penalty shot 23 seconds later for the final score, which did not change during the final quarter. This is the first time Greece has reached the final at a team sport during an Olympic Games. «The girls worked very hard for this. They deserved it. I know that when we are playing without pressure, we can beat any team. We played a fantastic game,» said Greek team coach Koulis Iosifidis. «This means a lot to us. We are very satisfied with this win and we have worked very hard for it. We were certain of a good performance, but at the beginning of the Olympics, we never thought we could get so far,» said team captain Dimitra Asilian. «Congratulations to the Greek team. They deserve this victory,» said Australian coach Istvan Gorgenyi. «We have a young team. They got caught up by the Greek attack and we just couldn’t reply,» he added. «We just let it go. We couldn’t get on top of them. They had a few lucky goals and we just couldn’t score,» said Aussie player Nikita Cuffe. Greece now faces Italy for the second time. In their first encounter, the Greeks had been overwhelmed by Italy’s physical play and lost easily 7-2. They will need to considerably pull up their game, but will also be helped by a strongly partisan crowd, which, according to the Australians, did have an impact on the final result. «It’s a new game. We’ll do our best. We fear no one but we still respect everybody,» said Iosifidis. Another big hope for qualification for a final was Greece’s Periklis Iakovakis, last year’s bronze medalist in the 400 meters hurdles in the World Athletics Championships, who missed getting into the final by a whisker. Iakovakis did record a season’s best of 48.47 seconds but managed to finish only fourth in his semifinal heat, which was won in 48 seconds flat by Danny McFarlane of Jamaica. From the three heats, only the first two, plus the two fastest times, qualified. Iakovakis had the fifth fastest time of those who finished third or lower in the heats and missed qualification by 23 hundredths of a second. The fastest overall, and the hot favorite to win, is Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic, who won the first heat in 47.93 seconds. Nadia Efendaki finished ninth in her 1,500 meters heat but qualified 15th and last for the semifinal with a time of 4 minutes 6.73 seconds. After eight events in the decathlon, Prodromos Korkizoglou was in 19th place with 6,473 points, 889 behind leader Dmitriy Karpov of Kazakhstan. It was not Karpov who was favored to win the event late last night, but world record-holder Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic, who was closing fast on Karpov and had whittled his lead down to 46 points, with his strongest event yet, javelin, following. The three men who competed in the long-jump qualifier failed to reach the final. The last qualifier jumped 8.05 meters, while Louis Tsatoumas, and Dimitris Filindras jumped 7.81 and 7.45 meters respectively. Dimitris Serelis recorded three invalid jumps. Tassos Gousis easily made it to the semifinal of the 200 meters, by running 20.46 seconds in the second round. Panayiotis Sarris finished seventh in his second-round heat in 20.90 seconds and was eliminated. In the women’s 200 meters, Greece’s Olga Kaidamtzi failed to deliver in the event’s semifinal late last night. She finished last to miss a place in the final. In the men’s Greco-Roman wrestling, Dimitris Avramis, in the 84-kilogram category, started with victories over Fritz Aanes of Norway and Behrouz Jamshidi of Iran, but lost to Russia’s Alexei Mishin and will fight for fifth place today.