Californians Karch Kiraly and Sinjin Smith, the two men most often associated with beach volleyball's rise from a backyard pastime to a viable professional sport, stand squarely in each other's path.
After victories Thursday, the two biggest names in one of the fast-growing sports in America meet today. The winner takes an undefeated record into Saturday's medal round of the double-elimination tournament.
Kiraly and Kent Steffes beat Germany's Jorg Ahmann and Axel Hager 15-5. Smith and Carl Henkel defeated Cuba's Francisco Alvarez and Juan Miguel Rosell Milanes 15-13.
A career ends
ATLANTA _ Connie Paraskevin-Young, a five-time Olympian, ended her career with a loss in a sprint elimination race. Rebecca Twigg was fourth in individual pursuit qualifying.
In men's individual pursuit, Italy's Andrea Collinelli won gold.
New Zealanders lead
CONYERS, Ga. _ New Zealanders were 1-2 after the individual endurance phase of the three-day event, with U.S. rider Kerry Millikin third and teammate David O'Connor fifth, despite some unlucky horseshoes. Millikin's horse, Out and About, wrenched a shoe loose but didn't lose it and was able to finish the round. O'Connor's horse, Custom Made, was clearly disconcerted by the loss of a front shoe early in the course.
German takes gold
ATLANTA _ In men's 142-pound class, Germany's Udo Quellmalz took gold, Japan's Yukimasa Nakamura, silver, and Brazil's Henrique Guimaraes and Cuba's Israel Hernandez Plana, bronze.
In women's 115, France's Marie-Claire Restoux took gold.
Italy wins foil's gold
ATLANTA _ Italy defeated Romania 45-33 to win the gold medal in the women's team foil competition. A first-round 45-44 loss to Poland knocked the U.S. women's team out of medal contention and the Americans finished next to last, winning only four of the final 11 points. The U.S. men fared no better. Like the women, they finished 10th in an 11-team field.
U.S. protests loss
ATLANTA _ The U.S. women's team protested its 2-1 defeat to Argentina because of a dispute over the time remaining when the Americans had their final scoring chance. The United States had a penalty corner with two seconds left, and the clock stopped because of an injury. Barb Marois' shot went wide. A ruling on the protest is expected today.
U.S. pair wins semifinal
GAINESVILLE, Ga. _ U.S. coxless pair Karen Kraft and Missy Schwen came on in the second half and beat Australian world champions Mega Still and Kate Slatter in the semifinals.
Kraft and Schwen trailed the Australians through 1,000 meters, then stepped up their stroke and took the lead for the first time with about 750 meters left to win by half a boat length.
U.S. pair Michael Peterson and Adam Holland failed to advance to the medal finals when they finished fourth behind semifinal winner Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent of Britain. Redgrave is attempting to become the first rower to win four consecutive gold medals.
Germans win 2 golds
ATLANTA _ Germany won its first two gold medals of the Games when Christian Klees shot a world-record score of 704.8 in the men's 50-meter free rifle prone event and defending champion Ralf Schumann won in 25-meter rapid-fire pistol. Klees' total, including a world record-tying perfect score of 600 in the preliminary round, broke the mark of 703.5 by Jens Harskov of Denmark in 1991.
ATLANTA _ American Amy Feng scored consecutive straight-set singles victories, and teammate Lily Yip sustained her first defeat. Feng, 27, defeated Berta Rodriguez Olate of Chile 21-15, 21-7.
Russia routs U.S.
ATLANTA _ European champion Russia scored six goals off fastbreaks in the first 18 minutes to take an 11-3 lead and routed the United States 31-16 in men's play.
World champion France and runner-up Croatia posted their second straight victories.
Another splash of rain
SAVANNAH, Ga. _ The regatta got another dose of foul weather and America's most consistent performer, Courtenay Becker-Dey, dropped from second into a third-place tie in the Europe Class. A thunderstorm rumbled through, postponing the second race in each of six classes.
_ TIMES WIRES