Pearce, Nothstein, Mirabella can still medal

Updated: August 24, 2004, 8:54 AM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- From the outset, Jennie Reed knew it wasn't going to be her day.

Her time in the seeding race for Sunday's sprint competition was much slower than planned. She couldn't keep the lead in her head-to-head battle with Canada's Lori-Ann Muenzer. And in her next race, she never managed to steal the lead from two-time defending world champion Svetlana Granovskaya of Russia.

Three quick races, about 40 seconds of hard pedaling time, and it was all over. Nothing went right for Reed, who failed to make it out of the opening rounds and won't medal in her Olympic debut.

She finished second in Monday's consolation race, meaning she ended the competition 10th overall in a 12-woman field.

"Sometimes, your legs aren't there,'' Reed said. "There's not always a reason why.''

Reed's comeback season hasn't included too many off days. And Sunday certainly wasn't the right time for one.

She was disappointed with her seed-race time, couldn't hold the lead against Muenzer -- the world bronze medalist -- in the opening round, then was beaten again in the repechage, or second-chance, race later Sunday by Granovskaya. Reed finished behind Britain's Victoria Pendleton in Monday's race for ninth place.

It's the fourth straight Olympics in which American women won't medal in the sprint competition.

I'm pretty disappointed, but at the same time, I rode tactically the best I could,'' said Reed, who aimed to deliver America's first women's sprint medal since Connie Paraskevin-Young won bronze at Seoul in 1988. "Sometimes, that's all you can do. ... I really don't know what went wrong.''

While everything went wrong for Reed in the sprint, everything kept going right for New Zealand's Sarah Ulmer in Sunday's other featured women's race -- the 3,000-meter individual pursuit.

Ulmer again bettered her world record in the pursuit, winning gold in 3 minutes, 24.537 seconds -- more than six seconds faster than the record she set earlier this year and two seconds better than her mark in Saturday's qualifying.

Australia's Katie Mactier took the pursuit silver and retiring Dutch star Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel capped her career with a bronze, her sixth overall Olympic medal, accompanied by three golds and a silver from Sydney and a gold medal in the road time trial here Wednesday.

"It was almost inhuman to do this,'' van Moorsel said. "My little heart still beats, but I'm almost dead.''

The Aussie men easily defeated Britain Monday for the gold medal in the 4,000-meter team pursuit, adding the Olympic title to its three consecutive world championships.

Australia's foursome finished in 3 minutes, 58.233 seconds. Britain finished in 4:01.760.

It was the fifth career Olympic medal and the first gold for Australia's Brad McGee, a three-time individual pursuit medalist -- including winner of the silver in Athens -- and a member of his nation's bronze-medal winning pursuit team at Atlanta in 1996.

Australia's win strengthened its position as the dominant cycling program at these Olympics. It now has five medals from its cyclists, including four on the track, and three cycling golds - no other country has matched the Aussies in any of those categories.

The silver was Britain's third medal of the track cycling competition, joining two individual golds won by time trialer Chris Hoy and pursuit racer Bradley Wiggins -- who was part of his country's entry in the gold medal final.

Spain defeated 2000 gold medalist Germany for the bronze, with a winning time of 4:05.523. It was the second bronze medal in cycling at the Athens Games for Spain, with Sergi Escobar figuring in both medal-winning rides -- he was third in the individual pursuit finals. Three American track cyclists still have medal chances at these Olympics: Colby Pearce is in Tuesday's points race Tuesday, while two-time Olympic medalist Marty Nothstein (keirin) and Erin Mirabella (points) race Wednesday, the final day of track competition in Athens.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press