It was a very short night for some of the members of the U.S. women's team, and their opening game showed it.
With a few players bleary-eyed after staying at the Opening Ceremonies until well after midnight, then getting up for a 6:30 a.m. team breakfast, the United States struggled and stumbled for 50 minutes before salvaging a 1-1 tie with the Netherlands.
Barb Marois of Auburn, Mass., took the pass-in and took a hard shot that deflected off Marcia Pankratz of Wakefield, Mass., for the tying goal with less than two minutes to go.
In other games, favored Australia routed Spain 4-0, Germany beat Argentina 2-0, and South Korea beat Britain, the 1992 bronze medalist, 5-0.
In men's action, Kamran Ashraf scored twice in the first half, lifting Pakistan to a 4-0 victory over the United States. Pakistan demonstrated its superior quickness and ball-handling skills in dominating against the Americans, who are 0-20-4 in Olympic competition. Pakistan won gold medals in 1960, 1968 and 1984.
Spain defeated Germany 1-0 in the first men's game, and Argentina stunned medal favorite India 1-0.
18th-seeded Russian claims gold
Aleksandr Beketov eliminated a pair of defending medalists, then survived a marathon bout with a fellow Olympic rookie to win the gold medal in men's individual epee. Beketov, a warrant officer in the Russian Army, defeated Ivan Trevejo-Perez of Cuba 15-14 in a bout that was tied nine times, including at 11, 12, 13 and 14.
Beketov won the gold on a lunging shot to his opponent's right side 5:57 into the bout.
Hungary captured the bronze medal when Geza Imre won 15-9 over fellow countryman Ivan Kovacs, whose mobility was visibly hampered because of an ankle injured in his semifinal match against Beketov.
Before defeating Trevejo-Perez and Kovacs in the medal round, Beketov eliminated French teammates and 1992 Olympic medalists Jean-Michel Henry and Eric Srecki in the preliminaries.
"I guess in effect, I have known these two (French) fencers before and that helped me against their skills. Last year, I lost enough games against those," said Beketov, the No.
18 seed coming into the event.
All three Americans _ Tamir Bloom, Michael Marx and James Carpenter _ won first-round matches before losing in the second round.
Defending champ blows shot
Just minutes after a dreadful final shot cost Wang Yifu of China a gold medal, the defending Olympic champion fainted and was treated for a heat-related problem.
The stunning development during the 10-meter air pistol event allowed Roberto Di Donna of Italy to win the gold.
The 35-year-old Wang was headed for a runaway victory with a nearly four-point lead over Di Donna with one shot left. But Wang, who appeared to flinch as he squeezed the trigger, caught only part of the .45-inch-wide target. He scored a surprisingly poor 6.5 (10.9 is a perfect score). Di Donna won with a score of 684.2. Wang won the silver with 684.1, and Tanu Kiriakov of Bulgaria won the bronze with 683.8.
_ TIMES WIRES