Nygaard drops to 2-11 in Olympic play

ATHENS, Greece -- American beach volleyball pair Dain
Blanton and Jeff Nygaard ended a dismal, winless Olympics on Wednesday
with a 21-16, 13-21, 15-13 loss to Swiss pair Stefan Kobel and
Patrick Heuscher in pool play.

The eighth-seeded Americans showed more intensity and made more
plays than they did in their two previous losses, but fell short of
the fifth-ranked Swiss duo.

"It's sad for me that I'm not going to able to walk out on that
court anymore,'' said Blanton, a 2000 gold medalist with Eric
Fonoimoana. "It's pathetic to come out with the effort we showed
in the first two matches. This leaves a bad taste in my mouth.''

The duo had set the Olympics as their solitary goal when they
formed the partnership in 2003. Neither would say how the
disastrous run in Athens would affect their future together.

"That's something we'll discuss in due course,'' said Nygaard.

The duo won its first and only international event in Rhodes,
Greece, in June 2003. They earned three more top-five finishes to
virtually seal their berth in Athens before 2004 began.

Blanton feared that complacency might set in and their 2004
results suggest it did. The pair finished no better than seventh in
nine international starts before the Olympics and continued their
erratic play in Athens.

"Our rhythm is to be out of rhythm, and even when we make a
great play, it doesn't feel right,'' Nygaard said.

The defeat ended another disappointing Olympics for Nygaard, a
member of the indoor team from 1993-2000. Counting his records in
Atlanta and Sydney, Nygaard's teams are 2-11 in Olympic play.

"Right now, I don't even have words,'' Nygaard said. "I
usually can find some, but right now, I'm numb.''

Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes captured the first beach gold
medal in Atlanta before Blanton and Fonoimoana won in Sydney. The
last American hopes to keep the streak alive are Dax Holdren and
Stein Metzger, who are 1-1 in pool play. Holdren and Metzger play
top-ranked Brazilians Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos on Thursday.

The 16-team, single-elimination medal round starts Friday.