Jonathan Ferrey, Getty Images
Ryan Millar is one of four athletes with strong Utah ties to win an Olympic gold medal on Sunday.

BEIJING — Utah sports fans who follow athletes with local ties enjoyed undoubtedly the state's biggest single-day Summer Games gold rush Sunday.

On the Beijing Olympics' final day of competition, a pair of Utah-connected athletes earned gold medals in two different team sports, for a total of four gold medals.

In a noon match at Capital Gymnasium, the United States men's volleyball team — which includes a pair of former BYU standouts who start for the U.S. in middle blocker Ryan Millar and libero Rich Lambourne — blitzed defending Olympic champion Brazil, rallying from a one-set deficit to take the next three sets and the gold.

"It's kind of pandemonium," said Lambourne of the spontaneous combustion of a post-gold-medal-match celebration," and I think all your nerve endings fire at the same time."

Added Millar, well after the medal was hung around his neck: "I'm speechless — I don't even think it's hit me yet."

About the same time that match Millar, Lambourne and their teammates were marching out to receive their medals, the United States men's basketball team — including Jazz teammates Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer — was tipping off against Spain in their gold-medal matchup at the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium.

After blowing out Spain out by 37 points in pool play last weekend, the U.S. had a tougher time in the final, with its lead down to just two points in the fourth quarter of the eventual 118-107 triumph.

"It feels great for us to have the only anthem being played — we represented out country the right way," said Williams, adding of the medal "it feels like gold - it's heavy, and it feels great."

Boozer, whose Olympic medal collection now consists of a gold and a bronze, said: "We're going to be smiling for a long time."

Within a period of less than five hours, Utah could align itself with four gold medalists, and not have to go far with the "Six Degrees of Separation" to do so.

And if you go by the clock rather than the calendar, you can easily work in the silver won by former Highland High standout Logan Tom in the women's volleyball late Saturday night for five medals easily within a 24-hour period.

Leave it to Lambourne to put it all in perspective.

"This is something that lasts a lifetime," Lambourne said. "It's not just another win, it's a win in the Olympic Games — and it's a gold medal."


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