Saturday, September 1, 2007

O’Neil, Palmer victorious at judo tourney

Two Olympic Training Center residents won their weight classes and four others had podium finishes today at the Fall Classic National Championships, a judo domestic qualifying tournament for the U.S. Olympic team trials.

Josh O’Neil placed first in the men’s 132-pound division and Anna Palmer claimed the top spot in the women’s 114-pound division at a 200-plus athlete tournament in Coral Springs, Fla.

After losing his second match of the double-elimination tournament, O’Neil won three straight fights, including two against Pan American Championships team member Nick Kossor. Palmer beat Nicki Schultheis in the finals.

With their wins, O’Neil and Palmer are virtually guaranteed spots at the trials, scheduled for June 13-14, 2008, in Las Vegas. The top eight athletes in 14 Olympic weight classes after the Senior National Championships (April 11-12, 2008, in Virginia Beach, Va.) are eligible to participate.

Alexa Liddie finished third in the women’s 97-pound division; Michelle Haggerty was the runner-up in the women’s 125-pound division; Christal Ransom took third in the women’s 138-pound division; and Taylor Takata placed second in the men’s 145-pound division.

Mixed results for OTC residents at triathlon worlds

OTC resident Sarah Haskins took 10th place and OTC resident Sara McLarty stumbled to a 49th-place finish at the Triathlon World Championships in Hamburg, Germany.

Haskins, 26, of St. Louis, marked the second-best finish on the five-person U.S. team for the 0.9-mile swim, 24-mile bike ride and 6-mile run. McLarty, 24, of DeLand, Fla., posted the top swim time in the 77-person field at 17:54 but struggled in the bike and run portions.

“I was working really hard on the bike to keep distance. I knew there were a lot of really good runners in that second pack,” Haskins said. “Unfortunately, two years in a row, I’ve wiped out in transition. I could have been running with that pack in front of me, but things happened.”

The 10th-place finish for Haskins was considerably better than her 21st-place finish at last year’s world championships. It was the first world championships for McLarty, who competed in the under-23 ranks last year.

Two U.S. triathletes – Julie Ertel and Andy Potts – have qualified for the 2008 Beijing Games. The last Olympic qualifier is the 2008 world championships, which will be held in June in Vancouver.

Springs cyclist edged in narrow finish

One second cost Danny Pate a national title.

The Colorado Springs rider finished a second behind Salt Lake City’s David Zabriskie in the time trial portion of the USA Cycling Professional National Championships in Greenville, S.C.

Pate, 28, a Slipstream/Chipotle-sponsored rider, completed the 18.6-mile course in 39 minutes, 35 seconds. Zabriskie did it in 39:34, sprinting to the finish line the final 110 yards.

“I was going as hard as I can go,” said Zabriskie, the first rider in 11 years to win back-to-back time trial national titles. “Coming into the finish, I could hear the announcer say, ‘He’s got to finish in 2 seconds or he’s going to lose.’ So I started sprinting.”

Like Zabriskie, Pate came from Colorado Springs-based USA Cycling’s National Development Team program. In 2001, he won the under-23 world time trial championship in Portugal.

Team USA locks up Olympic spot

The U.S. men’s basketball senior national team, which includes Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony, defeated Puerto Rico 135-91 in the semifinals of the FIBA Americas Championship to secure an Olympic berth.

The U.S. will face Argentina in Sunday’s championship game. Puerto Rico will play Brazil in the bronze medal game.

A look at the TV schedule:

Sunday, Puerto Rico vs. Brazil, 2 p.m., FSN; U.S. vs. Argentina, 5 p.m., FSN

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