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Aug. 15, 2004

Notes from Athens – Gamecock style

The 2004 Athens Olympic Summer Games started with a bang on Friday night. After the torch was lit in Olympic Stadium, it was time for the athletes to get to work. Below are a few notes from the Olympics on USC-affiliated athletes and coaches.

* How’s this for a coaching task? Your charge, Venezula’s Maria Vento-Kabcahi (seated No. 31) wins her first round match on Sunday. Great, but only celebrate that win for a minute or two. Because you, the captain (coach) of the Venezula women’s Olympic team Maxsy Jimenez (a former All-SEC tennis player at USC for Kent DeMars), must get her mind right quick. Vento-Kabcahi is now scheduled to play the No. 1 seed, Belgium’s Justine Henin-Hardenne, on Tuesday. Jimenez’s Vento-Kabcahi won her match 6-3, 6-4 over Kremer of Luxenburg on Sunday to get the Henin-Hardenne draw.

* A USC graduate, former NCAA Champion and three-time Olympian Lisa Misipeka, competing in Athens in the hammer, was American Samoa’s flag bearer for the Opening Ceremonies. It’s the first-known Olympic flag bearer for a USC-affiliated athlete. Misipeka won a bronze medal at the 1999 World Championships in the hammer.

* Numerous Gamecock-affiliated were shown on NBC’s telecast of the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night including Misipeka, USC volunteer coach Allen Johnson, USC Head Track and Field Coach Curtis Frye and USC diver Tracey Richardson.

* USC graduate Shannon Johnson scored three points, grabbing three rebounds, two assists and two steals in the USA’s opening round win over New Zealand on Saturday. The rout, a 99-47 win for the USA, was the USA’s fourth largest margin of victory in its Olympic history. The United States continues Olympic play against the Czech Republic, 2003 European Championship silver medalists, on Aug. 16 at 2:30 p.m. (all times local).

* USC swimmer Tamas Szucs, swimming for his home country of Hungary, was seventh in his heat of the 400m freestyle, swimming a time of 1:52.26. His time was the 32nd best on the day.