Tue, Jul 31, 2007 - Page 18 News List

US must do well outside favorite sports in Beijing

AP , BEIJING

The US must win gold medals outside its favorite two sports if it hopes to stay ahead of China and Russia at next year's Beijing Olympics.

US teams have traditionally topped the medal table by dominating the two high-profile Olympic events -- track and field and swimming, but that won't be enough in Beijing.

"Our effort has to be to gain medals in a more diversified fashion rather than relying on just two sports," said Steven Roush, chief of sport performance for the US Olympic Committee.

Roush, who will be in Beijing this week with a team of US athletes, acknowledged what many others have suggested -- China may displace with US as the top gold-medal team when the Olympics open on Aug. 8 next year.

"The Chinese have shown that they are capable of overtaking us in gold medals and potentially in the overall medal count," Roush said.

At world championships or other top international competitions last year, Roush said China won 43 gold medals, while the US won 36 and Russia 35.

"Two years out they are already showing their capability of winning the gold-medal count and that's without the benefit of hosting the Olympics and the bump that comes with it," Roush said.

The US won 36 gold medals in Athens with 32 for China. The US had an edge of 39 medals in the overall count.

Of the 36 gold medals, the US won 20 in two sports -- track and field and swimming. China won 21 golds in five disciplines -- badminton, table tennis, diving, weight lifting and shooting.

Roush said the US team hoped to pick up medals in nontraditional disciplines like cycling, shooting, rowing, archery and fencing.

"These are sports with multiple-medal opportunities where we've traditionally been spotty and where we hope to improve," he said. "It's changed our strategy somewhat, not just because of China but because of the growing parity and the number of nations that are winning medals."

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