Work in Sports
'A dream come true'
Blanton, Fonoimoana earn shot at gold
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Dain Blanton and Eric Fonoimoana saw red, and that gave them a chance to now win gold.
Penalized a point for wasting time late in their Olympic beach volleyball semifinal against Luis Maia and Joao Brenha of Portugal, Blanton served two straight aces to begin a five-point run that gave the Americans a 15-12 victory and a place in the gold medal match Tuesday.
Blanton and Fonoimoana fell on the sand in each other's arms when Brenha was unable to handle Blanton's final serve as U.S. flags waved in the cheering sellout crowd at Bondi Beach.
"It's a dream come true," Fonoimoana said.
Their chance comes Tuesday against Brazil's Ze Marco de Melo and Ricardo Santos, who trounced Germany's Jorg Ahmann and Axel Hager 15-5 in the other semifinal. Maia and Brenha meet the Germans for the bronze medal, a match they lost in Atlanta four years ago.
Earlier Sunday, the ninth-seeded Blanton and Fonoimoana overpowered Rob Heidger and Kevin Wong, the seventh seeds, 15-3, in an all-American quarterfinal.
Maia and Brenha used a furious comeback to defeat Paul and Martin Laciga of Switzerland 15-11 and advance to the semifinals.
The 12th-seeded Portuguese pulled off their second straight upset in ousting the fourth-seeded Laigas, who were considered strong medal contenders.
Ze Marco and Ricardo, seeded third, outlasted defending bronze medalists Mark Heese and John Child of Canada in a 15-13 match that lasted 80 minutes, the longest in the two Olympic beach volleyball tournaments held so far.
Both teams continually sided out -- winning the rallies when the opponent served -- to prolong the match on a clear, breezy morning at Bondi Beach. At the hour mark, Ricardo required a five-minute injury break after getting his wind knocked out when diving for a ball.
"In this game, the Canadians were one of the best teams in the world," Ze Marco said. "It was very important for us to beat them and make the semifinal."
The German side defeated Spain's Fabio Diez and Javier Bosma 16-14, scoring the final three points after surviving four match points against them. It was the second victory over the Spaniards for Ahmann and Hager, who beat Diez and Bosma 15-13 in the opening round.
"I thought we were going to win," Paul Laciga said. "They came back with some very good blockng and defense. Here I hoped to beat them but in 10 minutes I made eight mistakes. I made too many errors."
The women's medal matches take place Monday, with the top seeded sides -- No. 1 Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst of Australia and No. 2 world champions Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede of Brazil -- playing for gold.
Yukiko Takahashi and Teru Saiki of Japan face Brazil's Adriana Samuel and Sandra Pires for the bronze medal.