Aug. 8, 2012
LONDON - A pair of Golden Bears moved closer to winning Olympic medals and another's team fell short of the final on Wednesday at the Summer Games.
In men's water polo, Aleksa Saponjic and his Serbia team advanced to the semifinals, while John Mann and the USA lost in the quarterfinal round. Former Bear Alysia Montano - the winner of the 800 meters in the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials - posted the top time in the 800 heats
Besides Montano running in the 800 semifinals, Thursday's events will feature Alex Morgan (USA) playing in the women's soccer gold-medal game against Japan at 11:45 a.m. PT and Heather Petri and Elsie Windes (USA) taking part in the women's water polo gold-medal match at noon PT.
Men's Water Polo
Aleksa Saponjic's Serbian squad has put itself in position for a medal at the 2012 Olympics, defeating Australia, 11-8, Wednesday in the quarterfinals at the Olympic Park Water Polo Arena. Saponjic, who will be a sophomore on Kirk Everist's Golden Bears' team this fall, helped Serbia improve its record to 5-0-1 in London. Serbia will next face Italy, an 11-9 winner over Hungary, on Friday, Aug. 10, in the semifinals. If Serbia tops Italy, it would play the winner of Croatia-Montenegro for the Olympic gold medal.
Meanwhile, Cal alumnus John Mann's (2003-06) USA squad fell to undefeated Croatia (6-0), 8-2, in another quarterfinal contest. Mann saw 4:44 minutes of action in the match. The Americans will next play Spain on Friday in the bracket for teams vying for fifth place. If Team USA tops Spain, it would play the winner of the Hungary-Australia match for fifth place.
Mann has tallied three goals in the Olympics - versus Romania, Great Britain and Hungary. Saponjic notched a goal in Serbia's 21-7 win over host Great Britain back on July 31.
Mann helped the Golden Bears to the 2006 NCAA title and was the recipient of the Peter J. Cutino Award as the nation's top collegiate player. Saponjic was a 2011 honorable mention All-American as a freshman for Cal. Saponjic and Mann are the first Cal Olympic men's water polo players since four Bears - Gavin Arroyo, Chris Humbert, Sean Nolan and Chris Oeding - were members of the 2000 U.S. National Team at the Sydney Games.
Saponjic is looking to become the first Bear to win an Olympic medal in men's water polo since Kevin Robertson and assistant coach Steve Heaston were members of the USA team that won a silver medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Track & Field
Alysia Montano, competing on her grandmother's 100th birthday, led all qualifiers in the opening round of the women's 800 meters with a time of 2:00.47 on Wednesday morning. Running from the front throughout, she blazed to a 55.55 400-meter split with a 20-meter advantage at the halfway point of her race. Montano eased into the finish, as she only needed to place among the top three in her heat to advance to Thursday's semifinals.
"Alysia felt great today and is looking forward to tomorrow's semifinal round," said Tony Sandoval, Montano's coach and Cal's director of track & field. "Her training sessions here have been superb, and she is very confident."
Complete 800-meter results can be found here.