Chen Xue, Zhang Xi

China’s Xue, Zhang win beach volley worlds; no U.S. medals

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China broke through at the world beach volleyball championships as Xue Chen and Zhang Xi became the first women’s pair from a country other than Brazil or the U.S. to win gold.

Xue and Zhang, the 2008 Olympic and 2011 world bronze medalists, beat Germany’s Karla Borger and Britta Buthe 18-21, 21-17, 21-19, winning on their sixth match point in the gold-medal match in Stare Jablonki, Poland, on Saturday.

“It is my dream,” Zhang said. “I’m dreaming. I’m so excited.”

Earlier Saturday, Americans April Ross and Whitney Pavlik lost the bronze-medal match to Brazilians Lili and Barbara 21-18, 21-15.

Ross and Pavlik’s loss means the U.S. will walk away from worlds with no medals for the first time since 2001. Ross now joins a new partner, three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings. They could debut at the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach, Calif., from July 22-28, broadcast on NBC, NBC Sports Network and Universal Sports.

The men’s semifinals and finals are Sunday, when Brazilians Ricardo and Emanuel look to defend their title. NBC will have coverage from 2-3:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. sprinters past, present trade relay barbs

Justin Gatlin
Getty Images
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The only loss for the Americans at the Penn Relays came in the men’s 4x100m, as the U.S. team bobbled its victory away on a bad baton handoff between Tyson Gay and Isiah Young for the final leg, which led to a disqualification.

Mike Rodgers and Justin Gatlin gave the Americans an early lead in the race, and things were moving along well during Gay’s third leg. But the muffed handoff for the final leg cost the Americans. Both the winning Jamaican squad and the second American team surpassed them.

Young finished third, but the team was disqualified because the handoff occurred outside the pass zone. The second U.S. team of Sean McLean, Wallace Spearman, Calesio Newman and Remontay McLain finished in 39.02.

The mistake led to some inflammatory comments from U.S. great Leroy Burrell about continued problems with handoffs by U.S. relay teams.

“Well, I think we’ve got to put our team together a little earlier, possibly,” Burrell said in a television interview. “I think, we’ve had the same coaches working with these guys for many years, and we’ve had failure after failure. So it’s possible that, you know, it might be time for a bit of a regime change with the leadership.

“I think the athletes have to be the catalysts that make that happen. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get the stick around. I saw thousands of relay teams yesterday — maybe not thousands, but hundreds of relay teams get it around. But the professionals can’t. That’s just not good for our sport.”

Rodgers didn’t take kindly to those remarks.

“People keep pointing their fingers and downing us, but nobody has ever tried to come out there and help us,” he said. “Nobody from the past. Not Carl [Lewis] or Leroy. They haven’t been out there. I can’t really respect their opinions because they’re supposed to be leaders in our sport and in the USA, and they’re not coming out there to drop some knowledge on us, so I don’t care what they have to say.”

Lewis criticized U.S. relays in March.

Gatlin was equally critical of Burrell.

“I’m tired of people who have been part of Team USA take shots at Team USA,” Gatlin said. “To put us in the same boat as high schoolers is insulting.”

Bob Costas’ report 100 days out from Rio (video)

Bob Costas
NBC News
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Bob Costas reported from Rio de Janeiro for NBC News on Wednesday, 100 days out from the Opening Ceremony.

In the clip below, Michael PhelpsSimone Biles and even Brazil soccer legend Pelé comment on preparing for the first Games in South America.

Costas finished the clip with a stand-up from Copacabana Beach, where beach volleyball will take place in August.

VIDEO: Bob Costas picks biggest storyline of Rio Olympics