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Puhakka advances, track Devils bounce from Olympic meet

August 18, 2008

The past two days of competitions at the Beijing Olympics again saw mixed results for the Arizona State University contingent as the track and field athletes were eliminated from competition while two Sun Devils extended their stays at the 29th Olympiad.

Sunday saw just one former Sun Devil in action as Linda Wells, the former head coach of the ASU softball program, and the Netherlands softball team fall to the United States, 8-0, in five innings to fall to 0-6 in the tournament. However, in their final game of the eight-team tournament, the Dutch handed Chinese Taipei a 4-2 defeat to push both teams to 1-6 in the event and tie for seventh overall.

On Monday, former ASU diver Joona Puhakka kept his dream of medaling at the Olympic Games alive as he moved past the preliminary round of the 3m springboard. Puhakka, who is representing his native Finland for his third straight Olympic Games, qualified for the semifinal by placing fifth in the preliminaries with a score of 469.45. Puhakka is coached by ASU diving coach and 1988 U.S. Olympian Mark Bradshaw.

On the hardwood, Shawn Redhage and Australia registered one of the bigger upsets of the Games in men’s basketball as the Aussies knocked off previously undefeated Lithuania, 106-75, to finish fourth in the standings and advance to the knock-out stage. Redhage, who scored five points on 5-for-6 shooting from the free throw line and registered two boards and one steal, will join his teammates in the quarterfinals on Tuesday when they face Team USA.

At the Bird’s Nest, three sprinters took to the track in the preliminaries of their respective events, but none were able to advance. In the 400m dash, current Sun Devil Joel Phillip, representing Grenada, ran 46.30 to place sixth in his heat and 39th overall while former Devil Lewis Banda, running for Zimbabwe, clocked in at 46.76 to also place sixth in his heat and 47th overall. In the 200m dash, Seth Amoo, running for Ghana, turned in a time of 20.91 to place fourth in his heat (just one spot from automatically advancing) and placed 29th overall.

On Tuesday, the lone Sun Devil set to compete will be Puhakka in the semifinals of the 3m dive.