Victory in face of loss

Hugh McCutcheons has been an inspirational story - one that every one will be amazed to read about.

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BEIJING // Hugh McCutcheon's has been an inspirational story - one that every Olympian, sportsperson and human being will be amazed to read about. Just days after his father-in-law Todd Bachman was killed and mother-in-law Barbara was injured by a Chinese at the start of the Games, the US men's volleyball coach finds his team in today's final against Brazil. Just how has he managed to lead a side while going through an emotional roller coaster?

"I'm just trying to get into my professional context and be fully invested in that," McCutcheon said after his team's thrilling five-set win over Russia in the semi-finals on Friday. "One of the reasons I'm still here is that I realise that so many more lives are invested in this than just my own, in terms of what our team is trying to do here," he said. His wife, Elisabeth - he calls her Wizzy - and his mother-in-law have returned to Minneapolis.

"We had a group discussion about whether or not I should stay, and Wizzy told me she wanted me to stay," he said. Meanwhile, his team are undefeated in seven games. Against Russia, the US took a 2-0 lead but lost the next two sets, only rally themselves to win the fifth set. They are playing to honour the memory of Todd Bachman and to relieve the suffering of Barbara and Wizzy. "I need to get back to my family," McCutcheon said. "This is wonderful for our team and for our organisation, for the guys, for the number of hours and years they've invested

"It's a fantastic achievement and I'll embrace it and enjoy it. But as soon as we're done I've got to get back to where I'm needed, which is with my family. Wizzy was as much a victim in this whole thing as anyone." Before the Russian game, the team received an email of encouragement from Wizzy. * Agencies