Cal athletes find gold, silver in Australia

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs

27 SEPTEMBER 00 | Swimmers Staciana Stitts and Anthony Ervin struck gold in Sydney, while Ervin, Cal rower Sebastian Bea and four members of the U.S. women's water polo team struck silver.

A sophomore, Ervin shared a gold in the 50-meter freestyle Sept. 22 with his training partner on the U.S. men's swim team, Gary Hall. The two clocked 21.98 seconds, 0.05 seconds ahead of Dutch swimmer Peter Van den Hoogenbrand.

"It couldn't have ended up any better," an elated Ervin was quoted as saying. "We had a tie for the gold medal in the Olympics. That makes us the best in the world in no uncertain terms."

Ervin also helped the U.S. team take a silver in the 400-meter freestyle relay, swimming the lead-off leg in the Sept. 16 race. The Americans finished in 3:13.86, besting the previous world record but coming in 0.19 seconds behind the Australians.

The holder of the world record in the 50-meter freestyle (short course) and the first athlete of African-American heritage to make the U.S. Olympic swim team, Ervin becomes the 13th Golden Bear male swimmer to win an Olympic gold medal and the fourth to win an individual gold. That elite group includes Bengt Baron and Par Arvidsson in the 1980 Olympics, and Matt Biondi in 1988s.

Stitts - the first Cal student on the U.S. women's Olympic Swim team since 1988 - swam the breaststroke leg of the women's 400-meter medley preliminary. Although she did not swim in the final, she still receives a gold along with the rest of the U.S. medley team.

Under the rules of swimming, all athletes from a winning team, whether they swam in the preliminaries or finals, receive a medal. The Cal swimmer also holds gold and silver medals from the 1998 Goodwill Games and another gold from last year's Pan American Games.


Senior Sebastian Bea teamed with Dartmouth graduate Ted Murphy to bring home a silver medal in the men's coxless pair. "He's a real superstar in rowing," said Head Rowing Coach Steve Gladstone, who praised Bea's combination of mental and physical talents. "Like any superior athlete, he has a combination of focus and extraordinary competitiveness."

Bea's crew was in fourth place heading into the final 500 meters and needed to sprint past former Cal teammate Djordje Visacki's Yugoslavian pair as well as the British pair to snare silver. The Americans finished 0.83 seconds behind gold medal-winning France. Visacki's crew came in fifth.

Bea is among 11 current and past Berkeley rowers in the 2000 Summer Games - four for Yugoslavia, three for the United States, two for Norway and one for Canada. The stellar Cal team took the national championships for college rowing in 1999 and 2000.

Water polo

The U.S. women's water polo team took a silver medal, after Australia pulled from behind to win the final match 4-3, and the gold. Earlier in the match, Cal freshman Ericka Lorenz scored to give the Americans a 2-1 lead. The team includes Lorenz, senior Heather Petri, former student Courtney Johnson, and former Cal coach Maureen O'Toole.

On the way to its silver, the U.S. team defeated World Cup champ the Netherlands 6-4, had a draw with Canada, and defeated the Russian and Kazakhstan teams.

Still to come

More than 30 current and former Cal athletes and coaches are in the Sydney Olympics, competing on behalf of nine countries. Cal athletes are competing in track, basketball, water polo and weight lifting, all of which go to finals Sept. 27 through Oct. 1, the final day of the games.


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