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Medal shutout hits US boxing hard

Associated Press / August 12, 2012
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The US Olympic Committee is so disappointed by its medal-less men’s boxing team that it will make changes to the sport’s national governing body.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun offered no specifics Saturday, although it’s clear far more is expected from US fighters, who left the Olympics empty handed for the first time in team history.

‘‘We’re going to sit down and take a hard look at why we are where we are, and make some changes,’’ Blackmun said at a news conference where the US Olympic Committee began wrapping up the London Games, which close Sunday. ‘‘I don’t want to say anything beyond that.’’

The US men’s team, the most successful in Olympic history, lost nine of its last 10 bouts in London. USA Boxing has been criticized for a sharp decline in recent years, along with the fact that the coaching staff was not in place until just about a month before the games opened.

‘‘It’s very disappointing for all of us, but we all fought hard and tried,’’ welterweight Errol Spence said earlier in the Olympics, after his elimination ensured that no American man would medal in London.

Two US fighters did win medals in London — in women’s contests. Middleweight Claressa Shields won a gold medal and flyweight Marlen Esparza took a bronze.

‘‘We’re disappointed in boxing,’’ Blackmun said. ‘‘We want to do better, particularly in men’s boxing. By saying disappointed in boxing, I don’t mean in the people.

“I mean, we’re disappointed that we didn’t do better in boxing, because I know that we can do better and we have to focus on how we do that.’’

US men’s Olympic boxers have won a record 108 medals. But since David Reid took gold at Atlanta in 1996, only one US man — Andre Ward, in 2004 — has taken the Olympic title.

No age change for RioBasketball’s best apparently will be welcomed in Rio.

The head of the sport’s governing body said he doesn’t foresee an age limit for the 2016 Olympics, tempering talk that the 20-year anniversary of the Dream Team would be the final appearance of the NBA’s biggest stars.

‘‘The feeling is I think that we will not be proposing an under-23 age for 2016,’’ FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann said.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has said he may favor Olympic basketball turning to a model like soccer, in which teams are made up of players 23 and younger, with three roster exceptions for older players.

Ceremonies to be liveNBC acknowledged some critics Saturday in announcing it changed plans and will stream Sunday’s Olympic closing ceremony live online.

Sunday’s ceremony from London will still air on a tape-delayed basis on NBC in prime time.

For the opening ceremony, NBC took some heat for not making the event available to anyone in the United States for hours after the fact.

The opening ceremony was watched by 40.7 million people, a bigger audience than for the Grammys and Oscars this year. NBC has since found that streaming live all of the Olympic sports events online has not cut into its prime-time audience, which has been unexpectedly bigger than the 2008 games in Beijing.

Costly protestA South Korean soccer player who held up a sign with a political message after a victory over Japan did not get a bronze when the Olympic medals were handed out in a ceremony to the rest of his team.

Midfielder Park Jong-woo is under investigation by the IOC and soccer’s governing body, FIFA, for displaying the sign with a slogan supporting South Korean sovereignty over disputed islets that are claimed by both his country and Japan.

Syrian fails drug test

Ghfran Almouhamad, a female athlete from Syria, was kicked out of the Games after failing a drug test. The IOC said the 400-meter hurdler tested positive for the banned stimulant methylhexaneamine on Aug. 3. She finished eighth and last in her first-round heat on Aug. 5. Almouhamad is the seventh positive case reported by the IOC since the Olympic body started its games testing program July 16 . . . British sailor Ben Ainslie will carry the flag for the host country at the closing ceremony of the Olympics Sunday after winning his fourth straight gold at the London Games. The 35-year-old’s victory in the Finn class made him the most successful sailor in Olympic history . . . The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected the Swedish Olympic team’s appeal for the women’s triathlon to be declared a dead heat and silver medalist Lisa Norden upgraded to gold. CAS said the photo finish ruling was a ‘‘field of play’’ decision by International Triathlon Union race officials and cannot be challenged . . . The US women’s soccer team’s victory over Japan in the gold medal final Thursday was seen by an average of 4.35 million viewers — the most-watched event in the NBC Sports Network’s history. The 2-1 win eclipsed viewership of Stanley Cup finals games played in 2009 and 2010 when NBCSN was called Versus.

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