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Bill Fitzgerald

Fencing, Phelps carry Team USA

Fourth-Place Medal

Well, thank goodness for swimming and fencing because apparently Americans can't shoot, cycle or lift weights worth a yuan. As of 5:00 am Monday morning (EST), the United States and China were deadlocked at 12 in the overall medal race, but the host country held a strong 8-3 lead in the gold category. Of the dozen American medals, eight came in swimming, three in fencing, and one in trap shooting.

Okay, so maybe we can shoot a little bit; first time Olympian Corey Cogdell blasted her way to bronze in women's trap shooting. Cogdell grew up hunting and fishing in her home state of Alaska; she began her competitive shooting career in air pistol and rifle but switched to shotgun because, "You get to see something explode." Well, you can't get more American than that now, can you?

Still, China took gold in the men's and women's 10 meter air pistol. Are you telling me the nation of Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and Dirty Harry got beaten in pistol shooting? And not only did we misfire for gold, we couldn't beat Croatia, who got the bronze. Croatia! Look, I know Toni Kukoc was a pretty good shooter in his day, but I didn't see him out there on the target range.

Fortunately, our women's fencing team came through with a medal sweep in the individual sabre event, just four years after winning the first gold medal in its history. This is comforting, but, come on, when the bad dude with the big sword tried to take out Indiana Jones, what happened? That's right, Indy took out his gun and shot the guy. Game over. Why is this important? Because, in the words of that great Western philosopher, Clint Eastwood, "In this world, there's two kinds of people, my friend. Those who have loaded guns, and those who dig."

The U.S. also failed to medal in the cycling road race. So, where's that Armstrong guy when you really need him?

But we are pretty good in the pool. Of the 12 medals the U.S. has taken, eight have come in swimming. Amazingly, several have been won by someone other than Michael Phelps, whose quest for Olympic history is going ... wait for it...swimmingly. Phelps is a quarter of the way home in his aquatic octodyssey, and Jason Lezak's relay anchor leg in the 4 X 100 relay redefined awesome. Still, I am a little concerned about events taking place outside of the Water Cube.

For instance, in weightlifting, Thailand's spellcheck challenging Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon won gold in the women's 48-53 kilogram weight class, putting up 125 kilograms in the clean and jerk. Like most Americans, I'm not too quick on the old metric conversion, but I'm pretty sure I just typed that a 115-pound woman lifted 260 pounds over her head. Not a bad gal to have as a bodyguard, I guess, but I still think I'd go with the Chinese pistoleras.

Photo via AP Images

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