Day 5 in review ATLANTA OLYMPICS

July 24, 1996

How hot it was

Temperature: High 92, low 73

Humidity: 75 percent maximum, 55 percent most of the day

Heat index: 110 degrees

Playing with pain

The U.S. women's gymnastics squad captured its first team Olympic gold medal after a dramatic vault by Kerri Strug. She collapsed in pain with a badly sprained ankle within seconds of landing.

Strug, before a wildly cheering crowd of 32,048 at the Georgia Dome, was in instant pain after landing her final vault. Her left ankle recoiled upon impact, but Strug held her spot on one leg before dropping to her knees in severe pain.

"I think I broke it," she told teammates, biting back tears. Strug was carried to the medal stand in the arms of her coach, Bela Karolyi, and she stood unsteadily with her six teammates as the gold medals went around their necks.

"We didn't want to march out without Kerri," said teammate Amanda Borden. "She gave it everything she had. We kept telling her we couldn't have done it without her."

Although it wasn't clear at the time, the United States didn't need Strug's points to end four decades of Soviet gymnastics domination. It was the first time since 1952 that gymnasts from the former Soviet Union didn't win the gold when they competed. The Russians took the silver and Romania took the bronze.

Savoring the moment

Four years ago, American swimmer Jeff Rouse (above) was nipped at the wall for the gold medal in the 100-meter backstroke. After he won that event yesterday, Rouse didn't want to let go of the feeling.

"I wanted to stay in the pool for 10 more minutes and enjoy the moment," he said.

Rouse was part of another big day for U.S. swimmers: Americans won five medals, including three gold, giving them a total of 17. The Americans' string of six straight boxing wins ended -- and, not surprisingly, in their first bout against the powerful Cubans. Cuba's Maiko Romero took advantage of a tentative Eric Morel for a 24-12 win in the 112-pound contest. The Cubans are 9-0 in the first round of the boxing competition.

Injury watch

Mia Hamm, star of the women's soccer team, was carried from the field on a stretcher after a collision with the goalkeeper in a 2-1 U.S. victory over Sweden. She suffered a sprained ankle, but is expected back for the medal round.

Foreign surprise

Irish flyweight Damaen Kelly, given added motivation by his country's success in the swimming pool, made one of the great escapes of the boxing tournament.

Bulgarian Julian Strogov, a European championship silver medalist, led 9-6 at the start of the third round after Kelly scored no points in the second. But Kelly piled in for a last-gasp, 12-11 win.

Kelly said that Michelle Smith's two Olympic swimming golds had done wonders for the entire squad.

"There's a real high in the camp," he said.

Local watch

Swimming: Brad Schumacher, a graduate of Bowie High, won his second gold medal, with the men's 400 freestyle relay.

Table tennis: Todd Sweeris of Potomac and partner Jim Butler lost in straight sets, 21-14, 21-12, to Andrey Mazunov and Dmitriy Mazunov of Russia.

End quote

"One loss and you're out. He cried after it. I cried with him. That's what the Olympics are all about."

-- U.S. boxing coach Al Mitchell, on Eric Morel's loss yesterday

Pub Date: 7/24/96

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