CLEMSON -- Nine athletes with Clemson ties, including track & field junior Travis Padgett, are competing for various countries this month in Beijing, China at the 2008 Olympic Games. Clemson is represented by six men's track & field athletes, two soccer players, and one in women's track & field.
Stuart Holden and Nathan Sturgis, former men's soccer standouts at Clemson, have already begun play with the United States team. In fact, Holden scored the only goal in the team's 1-0 victory over Japan in the Olympic opener for both countries Thursday. Holden was a second-team All-ACC player at Clemson in 2004, while Sturgis was an All-American and ACC Defensive Player-of-the-Year in 2005. The next match for the U.S. team will be August 10 against The Netherlands.
Track & field competition will start August 15 and run through the completion of the Games on August 24. Two Clemson products were named to Team USA, Padgett and 2004 Olympic Gold medalist Shawn Crawford. Padgett, the NCAA collegiate record-holder in the 100m dash, is hoping to earn a spot on the 4x100m relay. He placed fourth and just missed an automatic qualifying berth in the 100m dash at the Olympic Trials in June. Crawford will again be competing in the 200m dash for Team USA. He won the gold in 2004 and also earned a silver medal with the 4x100m relay in Athens, Greece.
Cowin Mills, a senior on the 2008 men's track & field team, was named to the Olympic roster for his home country of Trinidad & Tobago. He hopes to earn time with the 4x400m relay team. Also competing for T&T will be Ato Stephens, formerly Ato Modibo. He was an NCAA champion in the 400m at Clemson, and will be competing in that event for the third time in his outstanding career.
Itay Magidi, a senior on Clemson's 2007 track & field team, qualified in the 3000m steeplechase for his native Israel. Magidi was a two-time NCAA All-American in the steeplechase while at Clemson.
Dwight Thomas, who competed for the Tigers in 2001-02, will be appearing in his third Olympic Games with Jamaica. Thomas was a four-time NCAA All-American and five-time ACC champion, despite competing in only one indoor and outdoor season each for Clemson.
The lone women's athlete with Clemson ties competing at this year's Olympic Games will be former track & field standout Gisele Oliveira of Brazil. She qualified in the triple jump, an event in which she earned five NCAA All-America honors in a Tiger uniform. Oliveira was also the 2005 NCAA Indoor champion in the event.
Clemson's Olympic Athletes - 2008 Games (Beijing, China)
Student-Athlete Sport Event/Position Country
Shawn Crawford Track & Field (M) 200 meters United States
Stuart Holden Soccer (M) Midfielder United States
Itay Magidi Track & Field (M) 3000m Steeplechase Israel
Cowin Mills Track & Field (M) 4x400m relay Trinidad & Tobago
Gisele Oliveira Track & Field (W) Triple Jump Brazil
Travis Padgett Track & Field (M) 4x100m relay United States
Ato Stephens Track & Field (M) 400 meters, 4x400m relay Trinidad & Tobago
Nathan Sturgis Soccer (M) Defender United States
Dwight Thomas Track & Field (M) 4x100m relay Jamaica
U.S. Defeats Japan 1-0 in Olympic Opener
Former Clemson Star Stuart Holden Nets Lone Goal in 47th minute
TIANJIN, China (August 7, 2008) - The U.S. Men's Olympic Team got off to a fine start in the 2008 Olympic Games by earning a 1-0 victory against Japan before 37,177 fans at the Tianjin Olympic Center Stadium. Former Clemson soccer star, Stuart Holden fired home the game's only goal in the 47th minute to hand the U.S. three points and the top spot in Group B following the 0-0 draw between Netherlands and Nigeria.
Two former Clemson players, Nathan Sturgis and Holden are playing for the US Olympic team. Sturgis played at Clemson in 2004 and 2005 and was named All-American by Soccer America, the NSCAA (Third-Team), and College Soccer News (Second) in 2005. He was named first-team All-ACC and All-South in 2005. Sturgis was named the ACC's Defensive Player-of-the-Year in 2005.
Holden played at Clemson in 2003 and 2004. He was named second team All-ACC in 2004.
"The first game in this kind of tournament is very tight and you have to compete," said U.S. head coach Peter Nowak. "I'm very proud of them, because the first game is never easy and you never know how it is going to be . You train for three weeks and you try to find the right recipe about how the team will play. It was important to get the three points."
The U.S. next faces 2007 European Under-21 Champions Netherlands on Aug. 10 in Tianjin. Kickoff is set for 7:45 a.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on the USA Network and the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel. Fans can also follow along on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker.
The U.S. backline held solid throughout the match, anchored by centerbacks Maurice Edu and Michael Parkhurst while outside defenders Marvell Wynne and Michael Orozco won the flank duels. The combination of Michael Bradley and Sacha Kljestan kept the center of the park tight, with Holden and Robbie Rogers pinching in to deny space to the Japanese attack. Despite delivering a few dangerous crosses, Japan only managed two shots on goal.
At the other end of the park, U.S. captain Brian McBride worked tirelessly throughout the night, earning several fouls and maintaining consistent pressure on the Japanese defense. At 36, McBride is the oldest player in the tournament and the oldest to appear in the Olympic Games since the new format was established in 1992. Rogers troubled the Japanese with several attacking runs with the ball at his feet.
Both sides spent the first 15 minutes settling into the atmosphere in Tianjin, where the temperature reached 92 degrees at kickoff. The match was tightly contested through the midfield, with both teams looking to exploit room on the flanks. The USA's got their first good look at goal in the 14th minute through a sweet combination play. Sacha Kljestan penetrated the middle of the Japan defense before feeding an entry pass into McBride. The forward laid a back pass off to Michael Bradley, who fired a low line drive that forced the Japanese 'keeper to make a solid save.
Japan countered with a great chance eight minutes later that began with a cleverly crafted corner kick play. Atsuto Uchida played a short corner to Shinji Kagawa, who quickly played a ball into Keisuke Honda, who was charging from near post. He laid a ball back to Uchida, who delivered a ball across the six-yard box that a diving Brad Guzan just knicked. The changing trajectory fooled Masato Morishige, who was lurking at the far post, and his attempt at goal bounced wide.
The best chance for either team in the opening stanza came in the 41st minute for Japan. After a failed clearance off a corner, Uchida launched a cross into the six-yard box. Hiroyuki Taniguchi - the beneficiary of a missed offsides call - had a clear look at goal, but his glancing header skimmed wide.
The U.S. took the lead for good in the 47th minute on a play began by Marvell Wynne. The right back outpaced his defender down the right flank and whipped a low cross into the box. Japan captain Hiroki Mizumoto attempted a clearance, but his effort fell straight into the path of Holden. The midfielder stepped into a hard drive that snuck under the arms of Shusaku Nishikawa, delivering the U.S. the decisive 1-0 lead.
With the lead in hand, the U.S. was able to maintain possession in several stretches despite pressure from Japan. Nonetheless, the final 30 minutes were not without a couple close calls. A penetrating cross from Shinji Kagawa in the 65th was skimmed out of a danger by a sliding Edu, who also held off Keisuke Honda during a scrum in the box just 10 minutes from the final whistle.
Japan got one more look at goal in the final minute of stoppage time, launching a ball into the area that forced Guzan off his line. The U.S. 'keeper lost the race to substitute Tadanari Lee, but Lee's header sailed safely over the bar.
The U.S. used all three of their allotted substitutions. Jozy Altidore replaced McBride in the 74th minute, then Benny Feilhaber came on for Holden in the 83rd minute. Danny Szetela became the USA's final change in the 87th minute, entering in place of Rogers.
Following the Netherlands match, the U.S. changes venues for their final Group B match when they face 1996 Gold Medalists Nigeria on Aug. 13 in Beijing. The match will be shown live on the USA Network and the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel beginning at 5 a.m. ET.
U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
Match-up: USA vs. Japan
Competition: 2008 Olympics
Venue: Tiajin Olympic Center Stadium; Tianjin, China
Date: August 7, 2008; Kickoff - 5:00 p.m. local / 5:00 a.m. ET
Weather: Hazy, Humid, 92 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
JPN 0 0 0
USA - Stuart Holden 47th minute.
USA: 18-Brad Guzan; 2-Marvell Wynne, 6-Maurice Edu, 15-Michael Parkhurst, 3-Michael Orozco; 7-Stuart Holden (10-Benny Feilhaber, 83), 4-Michael Bradley, 16-Sacha Kljestan, 14-Robbie Rogers (8-Danny Szetela, 87); 11-Freddy Adu, 17-Brian McBride - Capt. (12-Jozy Altidore, 74)
Subs: 1-Chris Seitz, 5-Dax McCarty, 9-Charlie Davies,13-Patrick Ianni
Head Coach: Peter Nowak
JPN: 1-Shusaku Nishikawa; 4-Hiroki Mizumoto - Capt., 5-Yuto Nagatomo, 6-Masato Morishige, 7-Atsuto Uchida; 8-Keisuke Honda, 10-Yohei Kajiyama (17-Tadanari Lee, 64), 12-Hiroyuki Taniguchi, 14-Shinji Kagawa (11-Shinji Okazaki, 84), 16-Takuya Honda; 15-Takayuki Morimoto (9-Yohei Toyoda, 73)
Subs: 2-Hajime Hosogai, 3-Maya Yoshida, 13-Michihiro Yasuda, 18-Kaito Yamamoto
Head Coach: Yasuharu Sorimachi
Statistical Summary: USA / JPN
Shots: 8 / 8
Shots on Goal: 4 / 2
Saves: 2 / 3
Corner Kicks: 2 / 5
Fouls: 15 / 18
Offside: 2 / 4