FRESNO, Calif. – With the 2008 Beijing Olympics just around the corner on Aug. 8, Laura Berg and Team USA Softball are preparing for their fourth-straight gold medal. Berg is a former All-American under head coach Margie Wright and a member of the 1998 NCAA National Championship team at Fresno State.
Softball achieved Olympic status on June 13, 1991, when the International Olympic Committee — with an eye toward gender balance — added the sport to the 1996 program. The first Olympic softball game, played north of Atlanta in Columbus, Ga., was a 10-0 victory by the U.S. over Puerto Rico as part of the 1996 Olympics.
Olympic Softball is a single tournament played over a nine-day span beginning on Aug. 12. The eight teams in the field play each other once during a round robin format. The four teams with the best records advance to the medal rounds.
Each of the eight teams earned a berth in the Olympics by winning a qualifying tournament. The United States, Japan, Canada, China and Australia are all making their fourth appearances in the games.
The United States has won all four Olympic gold medals in the sport of softball. Australia won the silver in 2004 and bronze the first two years. Japan won Bronze in 2004 and silver in 2000. China is looking to medal for the first time since winning the silver in the 1996 games. Canada is the only four-year participant to have yet to win a medal, with its best finish being fifth in both the 1996 and the 2004 games.
Chinese Taipei is the only country making its third Olympics as they missed out on the 1996 games. They have yet to take home a medal.
After winning the Africa/Europe Qualifier, the Netherlands is making its second appearance after a seventh place finish at the Athens Olympics.
By winning the Americas Qualifier, Venezuela earned its’ first-ever berth for softball in the Olympics.
Former Bulldogs Lovie Jung (Team USA) and Robin Mackin (Team Canada) will also compete in softball at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Follow all three Bulldog Olympians on their quest for gold at www.gobulldogs.com <http://www.gobulldogs.com/> . Other helpful Olympic links:
www.usasoftball.com <http://www.usasoftball.com/> ,
A full Olympic schedule is available on the NBC website with television listings specific to your local provider. Note: Beijing is 14 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time.
“Join the State- Fresno State!” – For information on the 2008
Beijing Olympic softball tournament log on to www.gobulldogs.com