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Baseball and softball make exit
August 24, 2008 18:09 IST
Softball and baseball made dramatic exits from the Olympic stage with Japan [Images] and South Korea pulling off shock gold medal wins.
Japan supplied one of the biggest shocks of the Beijing [Images] Games by upsetting unbeaten United States 3-1 to capture the softball gold and end the mighty Americans' reign.
Since softball was introduced in 1996 at the Atlanta Games, the U.S. had ruled supreme over the Olympic diamond, no other country having set foot on the top of the medals podium.
Joy was mixed with bitterness as members of the U.S. squad symbolically laid their cleats on home plate at the end of the game and walked away.
"It hurts a lot," said US slugger Crystl Bustos, who blasted an Olympic record six home runs. "You train your whole life and you want to win.
"In the bigger picture, I haven't thought about it yet. It hasn't sunk in, give it some time.
"In about a month we'll look back and hope this isn't the last time, but for right now it seems it is."
There were fewer tears but no less drama at Wukesong Field where Korea capped an unbeaten march to the baseball gold medal by fighting off defending champions Cuba 3-2 in the final.
Taking in some of the final day action, International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge hinted baseball would not be back in the Games until major league players were allowed to take part.
However, both baseball and softball believe they will be back for the 2016 Games.
They will be considered for inclusion, along with golf, squash, rugby, karate and roller sports, when the IOC finalises the programme for 2016 in Copenhagen in 2009.
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