RIO DE JANEIRO -- Carlos Balderas qualified for the Olympics nearly nine months ago, and he has been waiting anxiously for his next fight ever since.The American lightweight only has to wait a few more hours after the opening ceremonies in Rio. Balderas fights in the opening session of the grueling, 16-day Olympic boxing tournament on Saturday morning.Its everything Ive been thinking about since November, Balderas said. The only thing thats been in my mind is bringing back a medal.His friend and roommate, light flyweight Nico Hernandez, also fights on a big first day for the eight-person U.S. team. After the American men failed to win any Olympic medals for the first time in London, the new U.S. fighters believe their teamwork can help them exceed relatively low outside expectations in Brazil.Were definitely close, because were all young, Hernandez said. Im the oldest one on the team, and Im 20. Weve all been on the same team since juniors, so weve been traveling together for a couple of years now. Were really close, like family. I think that helps us a lot. We all support each other.Balderas and Hernandez are key parts of the tight-knit core on a U.S. team that has bonded through years of shared competition. All six American men were born less than two years apart.The vibe is really, really cool, Balderas said. Because me, Nico, Tony (Vargas), Shakur (Stevenson), weve pretty much been together since the youth team. We were always around each other. Its not like somebody came out of nowhere and just took a spot. Everybody was always very cool with each other.The U.S. men could use all the good vibes they can get.They havent won a gold medal since Andre Ward triumphed in Athens in 2004. They claimed just one bronze medal in Beijing -- and none at all in London, an embarrassment for the most successful boxing nation in Olympic history.USA Boxing hired veteran Irish coach Billy Walsh last year, but his plans are necessarily focused on Tokyo in 2020. He hopes the current teams talent will be enough to counteract their opponents years of centralized training.Its a massive challenge, Walsh said. There definitely is a skill level that we need to change. Its a Tokyo project.Balderas and Hernandez could have turned pro before Rio, but instead participated in the professional ventures of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) to improve their chances of landing a spot in Brazil. Balderas qualified early for the Olympics through his victories in AIBAs World Series of Boxing.They both realize the importance of starting a pro career with an Olympic pedigree. They also wanted extra experience with the particularities of Olympic-style boxing, which can be difficult for American-trained prospects.Neither fighter hails from a particular boxing hotbed, either: Hernandez is from Wichita, Kansas, while Balderas came up from Santa Maria, California.Its definitely not a big sport in Wichita, Hernandez said. It means a lot to me to get here, because not a lot of people that came from there have really made anything of themselves. I want to be the one to inspire other people. I like to say that Im one of the ones that made it from there, because theres not a lot of recognition like there is in California or something.Balderas is a first-generation Mexican-American whose grandfather moved his family north to work the fertile fields of central California.I know regardless of what happens at the Olympics, my family is always going to be behind me, Balderas said. I do feel some pressure, because I feel like I cant let them down, you know? I know that everybody has made sacrifices for me, so I feel like its only right for me to do the same for them.Balderas and Hernandez both train with their fathers and other relatives. Hernandezs parents are leaving the U.S. for the first time to watch their son, while Balderas traveling party is slightly larger -- including uncles, aunts and cousins who were able to book the trip several months in advance because of his early qualification.It kind of makes me feel nervous in a way, but also it makes me just feel happy, Balderas said. I want to prove to them that I can do something big, because we went from the strawberry fields to the Olympic Games.Fausse Yeezy Boost 350 v2 Pas Cher . It was the second consecutive win for the Pacers (2-5), who lost their first five preseason games. Jeff Teague led the Hawks (1-5) with 17 points and eight assists and Al Horford had 12 points and seven rebounds. Mike Scott scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half. Yeezy Boost 350 Pas Cher Ebay . 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Fausse Yeezy Boost 350 v2 .C. -- Glenn Howard needed an extra end to move into the Masters Grand Slam of Curling final.Ben Stokes believes Marlon Samuels lacks respect following the pairs various confrontations over the years.A feisty, often angry, rivalry which began with Samuels saluting Stokes after a dismissal in the Grenada Test in early 2015 further escalated during the World T20 final in Kolkata earlier this year went the pair went face-to-face in the middle.Samuels would end up finishing unbeaten on 85, and earn the Man-of-the Match-award, while Carlos Braithwaite clubbed Stokes for four consecutive sixes to seal the trophy.Samuels, who was later fined 30% of his match fee for abusive language, further raised the tension in the post-match press conference by saying: Stokes is a nervous laddie...he doesnt learn.In his autobiography, Firestarter: Me, Cricket and The Heat of the Moment, which is being serialised in the Daily Mail, Stokes makes clear that resentment remains strong.Marlon Samuels lacks respect. You get that if you have spent any time with him on a cricket field. Marlons conduct after West Indies victory over us in this years World Twenty20 final showed a total disrespect for the game.Without removing his batting pads, Marlon walked into a press conference, sat down and placed his feet on the desk. Totally lacking manners.It didnt require him to give me a character assassination -- bizarrely claiming I am some sort of nervous laddie -- to help me form the opinion that I do not like him one bit. I believe in the saying respect the game. I dont think he respects the game.Yes, he played an unbelievable innings but, because of our personal history, it stops me short of saying hes a good player. Team players are the good players in my eyes.Recalling how tthe tensions rose early in West Indies run chase, after they had been reduced to 14 for 3, Stokes writes:His mannerisms got me involved with Marlon.dddddddddddd I was at mid-off and, in my enthusiasm, found myself creeping in from my position and I noticed that Samuels, at the non-strikers end, was walking around like the big easy. I couldnt resist. Youve got a bit of a swagger on here, Marlon, considering youre 14 for three, I said. Shut the f*** up, you little bitch, came the reply.It appeared Stokes would be able to have the final say, however, when he had 19 to defend off the final over to earn England their second World T20 title. But he began with a poor leg-side delivery to Brathwaite, which was swung over deep square leg, and three balls later it was all over, leaving Stokes distraught, on his knees, in the middle of Eden Gardens.It was a numb feeling. I felt hollow, he writes. My England team-mates were the ones I had affected most with those four deliveries. We had gone all the way to the tournaments final over. But in a flash, all that hard graft had come to nothing.I knew the cameras would be all over me to see how I was holding up. I may have looked OK. That was an act. I was gutted. Do not show it, keep your head up -- Joe Root had said exactly that to me more than once as I crouched motionless on the square.In the aftermath, it was natural to question my methods. I wondered whether things might have been different had I plumped for four slower balls. The answer was no. My regret was execution, not selection. ' ' '