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Smith-Kiraly rematch spiked

Published Sep. 16, 2005

Sinjin Smith won back rival Karch Kiraly's respect Friday morning, but he lost his chance at an Olympic beach volleyball medal in the afternoon.

After losing a grudge match 17-15 against Kiraly, his former UCLA teammate, Smith and partner Carl Henkel were eliminated by Portugal's Luis Miguel Maia and Joao Carlos Brenha.

The shocking upset denied Smith a place in today's semifinals against Americans Mike Dodd and Mike Whitmarsh and a possible rematch against Kiraly in Sunday's gold-medal match.

Wednesday, Smith and Henkel beat Maia and Brenha 15-7 in their opening match. But Friday, after taking Kiraly and Kent Steffes to the limit before a sellout crowd of 8,000, Smith and Henkel lost to the Portuguese 15-13.

"I'd like to think we weren't (emotionally spent), but we didn't play the same game we did earlier," said Smith, 39. "It's so hard, when you play the best team in the sport, and then (lose to) a team you've beaten a number of times."

Kiraly and Steffes play Canadians John Child and Mark Heese in today's other semifinal. Americans are assured at least a bronze medal Sunday and would take the gold and silver if Kiraly-Steffes and Dodd-Whitmarsh win.

The American women came in dreaming about a medal sweep, but only one U.S. team remains for today's medal matches and it will be playing for the bronze.

The Brazilians assured themselves a gold-silver finish by winning both semifinals Friday. Americans Linda Hanley and Barbra Fontana Harris ousted feuding compatriots Nancy Reno and Holly McPeak in the morning 15-10. But they proved no match against the top-ranked Brazilian duo of Jackie Silva and Sandra Pires in a 15-8 afternoon semifinal.

Silva and Pires face Monica Rodrigues and Adriana Samuel Ramos for the gold. Hanley, a self-described "old mother of two," and Fontana Harris, an attorney, will play Natalie Cook and Kerri Ann Pottharst of Australia for the bronze.

Reno and McPeak, forced to play together for the Olympics under qualifying rules, announced after the loss they would be splitting up once again.