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Golden Brazil win volleyball title


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SPECIAL REPORT
• Olympics 2004: Special report 

ATHENS, Greece -- Brazil completed a near flawless performance in the Olympic volleyball competition with a 25-16 24-26 25-20 25-22 win over European champions Italy in the gold medal match.

Player of the tournament Giba scored 20 points in the final as Brazil, the world champions, regained a title they last won in 1992.

Russia claimed the bronze medal with a 25-22 27-25 25-16 win over the United States.

"Giba is the type of player that when it's a big game, a big event, he's always ready," Brazilian coach Bernado Rezende said.

"He had such a perfect performance. He was amazing, the way he played."

Gustavo Endres, with 14 points, and Andre Nascimento, with 11 points, were the other main contributors to Brazil's success.

"It was a very emotional moment to look at the Brazilan flag at a time like this. The Brazilian people are a people who have suffered many hardships and gone through many difficulties," said Giba, whose wife gave birth to their first daughter in Brazil on August 18.

"I haven't had the opportunity to take her into my arms yet. I can't imagine what it will feel like. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes," he said.

Italian captain Andrea Giani admitted his side had been beaten by a better side.

"We were just outplayed. They were just too good," said Giani.

Brazil's only defeat of the tournament came against the U.S. in a preliminary match after they had already secured their place in the next round.

Kiss seals Hungarian gold

Defending champions Hungary retained their men's water polo Olympic title with an 8-7 win over Serbia and Montenegro.

Gergely Kiss, who scored four goals, slammed in the winner with just two minutes left after the Hungarians had trailed for the entire match.

The win gave Hungary their eighth Olympic water polo title since 1932. Russia beat Greece 6-5 for the bronze medal.

Croatia regain handball title

World champions Croatia won the men's handball tournament for the second time in three attempts with a 26-24 win over Germany in the gold medal match.

Croatia, who failed to qualify for Sydney in 2000 after winning gold in Atlanta in 1996, edged in front for good midway through the second half with Mirza Dzomba scoring eight goals.

Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader was among the first to congratulate his team on winning their country's first gold medal of the Athens Games.

"I am very happy because it is our first gold medal and our handball team are world champions and now Olympic champions so I am very proud," he said.

"It is a result that will give great happiness to everyone in Croatia. The best thing was that they didn't play very well and they still won. And that goes to show the great strength of the team."

Russia defeated Hungary 28-26 in the bronze medal match.

Third straight gold for Denmark

Denmark's women won their third straight handball title but only after a dramatic penalty shootout at the end of their final against South Korea.

After two periods of extra time the scores were tied at 34-34, but the Danes claimed gold 4-2 in the shootout.

"We know we made history. We are Olympic gold medallists for the third time. We were getting better with every game," said Denmark's Trine Jensen.

"You can win the European championships every two years, but winning the gold medal at the Olympics is different."

Ukraine beat France 21-18 for the bronze medal on Saturday.

Kabaeva wins rhythmic gymnastics

Russia's Alina Kabaeva finally won gold in the individual all-round rhythmic gymnastics, finishing first in the the ball, clubs and ribbon to score 108.400 and beat compatriot Irina Tchachina by more than a point.

Kabaeva had been favorite for gold four years ago in Sydney, only to slip to third place when a hoop skittered away from her. She then served a drugs ban after testing positive for a diuretic at the 2001 Goodwill Games.

Moon wins gold with knockout

Moon Dae-sung of South Korea claimed gold in the men's taekwondo over 80 kilograms division, knocking out Greece's Alexandros Nikolaidis in the first round of the final.

Moon caught Nikolaidis with a reverse roundhouse kick to the temple just a minute into the fight, knocking his opponent to the matt unconscious.

Nikolaidis came round after a couple of minutes to cheers from the relieved home crowd.

In the women's over 67kg, China's Chen Zhong defended her title with a 12-5 win over France's Myriam Baverel.

France's Pascal Gentil took bronze in the men's division while Adriana Carmona of Venezuela won bronze in the women's event.


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