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Olympic Daily News - Friday, August 10th

The United States women beat Jamaica for gold in the women's 400-meter relay, smashing the world record for its first Olympic title in this event in 16 years.

The Americans ran the one-lap relay in 40.82 seconds, breaking the old record of 41.37 by over a half-second. That mark was set back in 1985 by the East Germans.

Jamaica set a national record with a time of 41.41 seconds, but still finished .59 seconds behind the American team, which featured Allyson Felix and Carmelita Jeter.

"It's an honor to be part of this team," said Felix, who also won gold in the 200m here in London. "Who would have thought that we would have had a world record tonight? It's amazing. Our names our going down in history."

The Ukraine claimed bronze with another national record time of 42.04 seconds.

Jeter, the silver medalist in the 100 meters here in London, ran the anchor leg of the record-setting race. Just before crossing the finish line, she began pointing at the clock in recognition of the world mark.

"I knew if we got the stick around, then all I had to do was bring it home," said Jeter.

The U.S. has won gold in this race a record 10 times, but this marks its first title since the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have never gone four straight Olympics without winning gold in the women's 400m relay.

Both Jamaica and the U.S. failed to medal in this event four years ago in Beijing. The Americans dropped the baton in qualifying, while Jamaica was disqualified in the final for an illegal handoff.

This year's Jamaican team consisted of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Sherone Simpson, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Kerron Stewart, all four of whom have won individual Olympic medals in sprinting events.

The medal was the seventh for Campbell-Brown, placing her second all-time among Jamaican Olympians. Merlene Ottey leads the nation with nine medals.

Heats were also run Friday to set up the finals of the men's 400-meter and the women's 1,600-meter relays. The U.S. posted the top qualifying times for both races.

The American men's team was anchored by Justin Gatlin, winner of the bronze medal in the 100m at the London Games, and posted a national record time of 37.38 seconds. Jeffery Demps, Darvis Patton and Trell Kimmons also ran in the relay for the U.S.

Jamaica, which rested sprinting star Usain Bolt, was second-fastest and only .01 seconds behind the U.S. time. Yohan Blake, runner-up to Bolt at these games in both the 100 and 200, ran the third leg.

Canada qualified in the third position with a time of 38.05 seconds, while Great Britain was disqualified for an illegal handoff.

BAHAMAS WINS 1,600 RELAY AHEAD OF HOBBLED U.S. TEAM

London, England (Sports Network) - The Bahamas claimed its first gold in the men's 1,600-meter relay, beating a short-handed United States team with a national record time.

The Bahamas, winner of the silver medal behind the U.S. four years ago in Beijing, trailed heading into the fourth and final leg, but Ramon Miller ran down American Angelo Taylor for the gold. Miller crossed the finish line at 2 minutes, 56.72 seconds to beat the U.S. team by 0.33 seconds.

"The U.S. guys know we've been just behind them or thereabouts for a long time," said Miller. "It's amazing we are finally taking home the gold."

The gold medal is the fifth for the Bahamas in its Olympic history. Four of those golds have come in track and field events.

Trinidad and Tobago posted a time of 2:59.40 for the bronze.

Also, running in the anchor leg for the South African team was double amputee Oscar Pistorius, who earlier at these games became the first man to compete in both the Summer and Paralympic Games when he made it to the semifinals of the 400m.

Pistorius, who runs with the help of carbon fiber artificial legs, was trying to become the first person to win medals at both the Summer and Paralympic Games, but his team was way behind by the time he received the baton and they finished eighth.

"It's always an honor to be the anchor. It has been incredible to be here," said Pistorius. "Just to participate has been great and now I am really looking forward to the Paralympics. I think they will be the best ever."

The American team ran the final race without three of the six men brought to London as part of the relay pool. On Friday, the four-man team consisted of Taylor, Bryshon Nellum, Joshua Mance and Tony McQuay.

LaShawn Merritt, Jeremy Wariner and Manteo Mitchell all had to sit out the 1,600 relay with injuries. Merritt and Wariner have won Olympic golds in the individual 400, but the former pulled up with a hamstring injury in qualifying for that event in London and Wariner learned earlier this week that he had a torn hamstring.

Mitchell, meanwhile, ran the opening leg of qualifying heats on Thursday, but broke his leg midway through his run and somehow still managed to finish. Despite the serious injury suffered by Mitchell, he still ran his portion of the race in 46.1 seconds, helping the U.S. tie the Bahamas for the fastest time in the heat.

"We took a hit this year with the injuries, but we are bringing a medal home and we are thankful for that."

Taylor is a two-time gold medalist in the 400-meter hurdles and also won gold as part of the 1,600 relay team in Beijing. The 33-year-old finished fifth in his hurdles event here in London and was not expected to run in the relay.

He had a sizeable lead on Friday after taking the final handoff from McQuay, but Miller made up the gap quickly and grabbed the lead on the final stretch.

"It was tough," said Taylor. "I thought I could get home but it was exceptionally close."

The Americans were trying for their third consecutive gold medal in this event and their 17th title in 23 Olympics.

This marks just the third time since Kenya won the relay in 1972 that the U.S. did not take gold in the event. The Americans did not win in 1980 because they boycotted the Moscow Games and were stripped of their gold from the 2000 Sydney Games because of doping infractions.

RUSSIA'S LYSENKO TAKES GOLD IN HAMMER THROW

London, England (Sports Network) - Russia's Tatyana Lysenko became the first reigning world champion to claim Olympic gold in the women's hammer throw and she did it in record-breaking fashion Friday at the London Games.

Lysenko's winning toss of 78.18 meters was good enough to beat Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland by .58 meters. It also topped the Olympic record of 76.34m set four years ago in Beijing by Aksana Miankova of Belarus.

"The gold medal is the dream of every athlete," said Lysenko.

Germany's Betty Heidler, the world record holder at 79.42m, picked up the bronze, but her medal did not come without controversy.

With Heidler already having attempted her last throw, China's Zhang Wenxiu was sitting in the bronze medal position when she fouled on her last attempt. Thinking she had won the bronze, Zhang picked up a Chinese flag and began celebrating what she thought was her second consecutive Olympic medal in the hammer throw.

However, a technical error with the measuring equipment had not properly recorded Heidler's fifth attempt, the one that eventually gave her bronze, and officials at first opted to give her another throw, which she fouled.

Later, the officials found the mark made by Heidler's throw of 77.13m and awarded bronze to the German while pushing Zhang to fourth. Zhang, who won a bronze four years ago in Beijing, had a best throw of 76.34m in Friday's event.

The Chinese team protested the ruling, but that request was rejected. However after review, the Heidler throw in question was marked down one centimeter to 77.12m.

Due to the Chinese protest, the medal ceremony for the event was pushed back from Friday to Saturday.

FRANCE'S LAVILLENIE SETS OR TO WIN MEN'S POLE VAULT

London, England (Sports Network) - France's Renaud Lavillenie claimed gold in the men's pole vault Friday at the London Games, setting an Olympic record to finish ahead of Germans Bjorn Otto and Raphael Holzdeppe.

Lavillenie was the only man to clear 5.97 meters and broke the record of 5.96m set by Australia's Steven Hooker four years ago in Beijing.

"I can't really believe it," said Lavillenie. "Maybe tomorrow I will wake up and realize that I am an Olympic champion."

The record-setting vault put Lavillenie safely ahead of Otto and Holzdeppe, who each cleared 5.91 meters. Otto took silver as a result of fewer previous misses, while Holzdeppe claimed bronze with a personal best.

"The Germans were very strong and they pushed me to my limits," Lavillenie remarked. "This has to be the best thing in my life."

Hooker and American Brad Walker failed to clear a single bar as both missed their first three attempts at 5.65 meters.

Walker, who won the U.S. Olympic trials this summer, failed to make it out of qualifying at the Beijing Games.

ETHIOPIA'S DEFAR WINS WOMEN'S 5,000

London, England (Sports Network) - Meseret Defar put in a strong kick as reigning Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba faded on the home stretch, overtaking her Ethiopian teammate to win the women's 5,000 meters Friday.

Defar completed the race in 15 minutes, 4.25 seconds to earn her second gold medal at the distance. She won the event at the 2004 Athens Olympics, but has been overshadowed in more recent races, including a bronze in 2008.

Dibaba entered Friday's race as the defending champion and world record holder, and was trying to complete another distance double. She won both the 5,000 and 10,000 in Beijing four years ago, and repeated as 10,000 titlist last week.

The 27-year-old took over the lead with several laps remaining, but could neither break free nor hold her pace. Dibaba was passed by Defar and Kenya's Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot in the final 100 meters.

Cheruiyot, the reigning world champion, was too far back to catch up to Defar's final surge and crossed the line in 15:04.73 for silver.

Dibaba held on for bronze, coming in 0.90 seconds slower than Defar.

TURKEY GOES 1-2 IN WOMEN'S 1,500

London, England (Sports Network) - Turkey's Asli Cakir Alptekin and Gamze Bulut finished with the gold and silver, respectively, in the women's 1,500 meters Friday.

Cakir Alptekin made her winning move on the backstretch of the final lap, powering to the front and holding off the field to win in a time of 4 minutes, 10.23 seconds.

It is the first Olympic medal for the 26-year-old, who won bronze in the event at this year's world indoor championships.

Bulut, who paced the field prior to Cakir Alptekin, was 0.17 seconds behind for silver. Friday marked the first time any Turkish woman has medaled in this event at the Olympics.

Bahrain's Maryam Yusuf Jamal finished in 4:10.74 to take bronze after passing pre-race favorite Abeba Aregawi of Ethiopia. Aregawi was in contention for a medal with less than 100 meters to go, but broke her stride and slowed dramatically, ending up in fifth.

American Shannon Rowbury was sixth, but her teammate Morgan Uceny did not finish after falling. Uceny also fell during the 1,500 at the 2011 world championships.

USA ROUTS ARGENTINA TO SECURE SPOT IN GOLD MEDAL GAME

London, England (Sports Network) - LeBron James poured in 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds and handed out seven assists, as the United States secured a spot in the gold medal game with a 109-83 victory over Argentina Friday in the semifinals of the men's basketball tournament.

Kevin Durant scored a game-high 19 points, while Carmelo Anthony tallied 18 points to help the United States remain perfect in the London Olympics and improve to 6-1 all-time against Argentina, with the only loss coming in the semifinals back in 2004 in Athens.

The United States is now 17-2 all-time in Olympic semifinals and will take on Spain in the gold medal game on Sunday after Spain defeated Russia in its semifinal contest earlier on Friday.

Manu Ginobili led the way for Argentina with 18 points, while Carlos Delfino and Luis Scola donated 15 points apiece, but the Argentines lost to the United States for the third time in 20 days and for the third straight Olympic semifinals.

Argentina will face off with Russia in the bronze medal game on Sunday.

After scoring 20 points in the second half of the United States' quarterfinal victory over Australia, Kobe Bryant came out scorching against Argentina, reeling off 11 of the American's first 18 points to help build an 18-6 lead.

Argentina responded with the next nine points to pull within three, and trailed 24-19 after the first quarter.

After Kevin Love's layup gave the United States a 10-point lead late in the second stanza, Ginobili buried a three-pointer from the corner as the halftime buzzer sounded to send Argentina into the locker room trailing, 47-40.

Ginobili opened the second half with another triple to trim the margin to four, but Durant capped an 11-2 surge with a three-pointer of his own to extend the lead to 59-46 with just over six minutes left in the third.

The Americans continued to distance themselves, as Durant nailed back-to-back treys before a James layup extended the lead to 72-53 with just over 90 seconds remaining in the third.

Anthony put the game away in the fourth, knocking down three consecutive three-pointers to press the margin to 93-64 and the United States coasted the rest of the way to set up a rematch of the 2008 Olympics, when the Americans topped Spain to claim the gold medal in Beijing.

SPAIN RALLIES PAST RUSSIA TO REACH GOLD MEDAL GAME

London, England (Sports Network) - Jose Calderon led a second-half rally to lift Spain to a 67-59 victory over Russia in the men's basketball semifinals of the London Olympics.

Calderon scored 12 of his 14 points after halftime for Spain, which is back in the gold medal game for the second straight Olympics. The Spaniards lost to the United States four years ago in Beijing, and are set for a rematch on Sunday after the Americans downed Argentina in the second semifinal.

Pau Gasol finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds in the victory, while Rudy Fernandez added 11 points. The Spaniards roared back from a 31-20 halftime deficit and avenged a 77-74 loss to Russia during round-robin play last week.

Sasha Kaun scored 14 points in defeat, while Andrei Kirilenko contributed 10 points and eight rebounds. The Russians will play Argentina for bronze on Sunday.

Spain battled through a dismal first half and trailed by 11 at the break, but rallied and tied it at 46-46 after three. Anton Ponkrashov's three-point play to start the fourth again put Russia ahead, but Spain followed with a 9-0 run to move in front for good.

Calderon's three gave the Spaniards a 51-49 lead and Marc Gasol scored inside to cap the burst for a 55-49 advantage. After a Kirilenko free throw momentarily stopped the bleeding, Calderon drilled another shot from beyond the arc and Felipe Reyes hit a jumper with 4 1/2 minutes left to give Spain a 60-50 cushion.

Russia got only as close as seven from there.

A sluggish first quarter ended with the Russians owning a 12-9 lead and things didn't get much better for Spain in the second. After a three by Sergio Llull pulled the Spaniards within 17-14, Russia scored the next 10 points. Sergey Monya capped the burst with back-to-back threes to make it 27-14.

Monya scored nine in the first half for the Russians, who carried a 31-20 advantage to the break. Spain shot just 21 percent over the first 20 minutes, but came out firing in the third and scored 26 to get back into the game.

Fernandez started it with a three, but the Spaniards still trailed by nine with just over six minutes left in the third. They continued to chip away and finally tied it at 46-46 on a triple by Calderon just before the buzzer.

MELLOULI MAKES OLYMPIC HISTORY WITH OPEN WATER WIN

London, England (Sports Network) - Tunisia's Oussama Mellouli won the men's 10-kilometer open water marathon Friday, making Olympic history as the first swimmer to medal inside and outside the pool.

Mellouli had already won the 1,500-meter freestyle at the Beijing Olympics and took bronze in the event here in London. He's fairly new to the distance event but won a FINA Olympic qualifier in June.

The 28-year-old slapped the timing board at the finish in 1 hour, 49 minutes and 55.1 seconds. Germany's Thomas Lurz, the 2008 bronze medalist, was 3.4 seconds slower for silver.

Canada's Richard Weinberger won the bronze, 5.2 seconds off gold medal pace.

Alex Meyer was the top American, finishing 10th after the grueling race in Hyde Park's Serpentine lake.

Mellouli pumped his chest after finishing and called his accomplishment -- winning medals in the pool and open water -- "probably one of the toughest things to do."

He said he's been struggling with shoulder and elbow injuries and fought a virus. Mellouli said his win was "a miracle if you believe in miracles."

RUSSIA SWEEPS SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING EVENTS AGAIN

London, England (Sports Network) - Russia swept the synchronized swimming events for the fourth straight Olympics, winning the team event Friday.

Duet gold medalists Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina were part of the nine-member team that wrapped up a gold medal after the free routine.

Russia scored 197.03 points, pulling away from China and Spain on the last day of synchronized swimming at the London Olympics. Russians have now won every gold in the team and duets competition since 2000.

"We have got programs that are completely different and that is inspiring. Here, at this level, it is so fantastically inventive," said Russian coach Tatiana Pokrovskaya.

China, which started the day 1.1 points back, ended 3.02 behind Russia for a silver medal and Spain finished 3.91 points back for the bronze.

The two countries swapped places from the duets competition, when Spain won silver and China bronze.

Canada was fourth in the team event, 3.49 points out of medal contention.

Points from the technical and free routines were combined to determine the medal winners.

The United States, which was represented here by Mary Killman and Mariya Koroleva in the duets competition, failed to qualify a synchronized swimming team for the first time ever at the Olympics.

CHINA 1-2 IN MEN'S PLATFORM PRELIMINARY

London, England (Sports Network) - Reigning world champion Qiu Bo and Chinese teammate Lin Yue were first and second Friday night after preliminary dives in the men's 10-meter platform.

Qiu scored 563.70 points on his six dives at the Aquatics Centre, 31.55 more than Lin.

They will try to extend China's dominance over diving at the London Olympics. The country has won six of the seven diving events here after going 7-for-8 in Beijing four years ago.

The diver who prevented a Chinese sweep in 2008, Australian Matthew Mitcham, is the reigning champion in the platform. He finished ninth in the prelims.

German Sascha Klein and Martin Wolfram were third and fourth behind Qiu and Lin while Americans Nicholas McCrory and David Boudia also qualified for the semifinals.

Only the top 18 divers out of 32 made it through. McCrory was eighth and Boudia got the 18th spot by 4.2 points. Canada's Riley McCormick qualified 11th but teammate Eric Sehn was eliminated in 29th.

Great Britain's Tom Daley moved on in the 15th spot. Daley and partner Peter Waterfield finished fourth in the synchronized platform event here -- an outcome that drew headlines for what happened afterward when police arrested a 17-year-old for tweeting Daley that he let his deceased father down. Daley's father died of brain cancer last year.

The semifinal and final are both Saturday.

NETHERLANDS WINS 2ND STRAIGHT FIELD HOCKEY GOLD

London, England (Sports Network) - The Netherlands won its second straight Olympic women's field hockey gold medal on Friday, knocking off reigning world champion Argentina.

Thanks to goals from captain Maartje Paumen and Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel, the Netherlands medaled at the Olympics for a fifth straight time. It captured a silver in 2004 following back-to-back bronzes and bested China in the 2008 Beijing Games final.

"That goal just had to be scored, we had been better than them (Argentina) for the entire game and if you take too long scoring, it only gets more and more difficult, so it just had to happen," said Dirkse van den Heuvel.

Joyce Sombroek stopped all four shots by Argentina, including the only one off the stick of former seven-time International Hockey Federation Player of the Year, Luciana Aymar.

Though Aymar, who is nicknamed "The Magician," became the first women to win four Olympic field hockey medals, and the first Argentinean to win four medals at the Olympics in any sport, she had no tricks up her sleeve in her quest for her first gold on her 35th birthday.

"It was a very difficult match for us. Netherlands are a really good team. We did everything possible to win, but it didn't work out," said Aymar, who had previously said this will be her last Olympic Games.

"We were doing fine until they scored their first goal. It's a real shame. It's still a silver medal and overall we are very happy about how we've played in this tournament. The team are a sensational group of players and at least we have a silver medal."

Argentina has medaled in four straight Olympic Games, sandwiching a pair of silvers around bronze medals in 2004 and 2008.

The Netherlands became the second team to win back-to-back gold medals in women's field hockey, joining Australia (1996-2000).

Paumen, meanwhile, netted the 14th goal of her Olympic career, surpassing Australia's Alyson Annan for the most all-time in this tournament.

Great Britain won its first women's field hockey medal in 20 years with a 3-1 win in the bronze medal match over New Zealand, which lost the first ever Olympic shootout contest against the Netherlands in Wednesday's semifinal matchup.

In early classification action, Australia shut out China to grab fifth place, while Belgium claimed 11th place with a win over the United States.

BRITAIN EARNS BRONZE FOR FIRST FIELD HOCKEY MEDAL IN 20 YEARS

London, England (Sports Network) - Great Britain's women's field hockey team earned its first Olympic medal in 20 years, besting New Zealand in Friday's bronze medal match.

Following a scoreless first half, the British netted the first three goals of the match and posted a 3-1 victory, claiming their first medal in this event since the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Alex Danson got the scoring started less than 10 minutes into the second half on a converted penalty corner. The match then went nearly another 14 minutes without a goal until Great Britain scored twice in a 4:04 span.

Crista Cullen made it a 2-0 game and Sarah Thomas added to the lead as both converted penalty corners.

"There was such emotion. We knew we still had something to fight for. We were not going to leave with nothing," said Cullen. "And the crowd carried us through. We knew we could win because of the crowd support. The second goal was a long time coming and I was the lucky one to score."

New Zealand didn't find the scoreboard until Stacey Michelsen's goal with 2:33 to play.

Great Britain was playing for a medal for the first time since finishing fourth at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

"We were heartbroken after our semifinal (loss to Argentina). The team was devastated. People couldn't talk. They were absolutely gutted. Everything we dreamed of was that gold medal. We knew we couldn't get it, but we vowed that we weren't going to go home empty-handed," said Great Britain captain Kate Walsh, who finished up the Olympic tournament despite suffering a fractured jaw during pool play.

"We knew that we had the game. We knew that we had the mental capacity. We just had to put it all together."

Despite the fourth-place finish, New Zealand posted its best Olympic finish. It nearly guaranteed its first women's field hockey medal on Wednesday, but lost the first ever Olympic shootout contest on Wednesday against the Netherlands.

FINALS SET FOR INAUGURAL 200-METER CANOE SPRINT EVENTS

London, England (Sports Network) - The canoe sprint event held its final heats and semifinals of the London Games on Thursday, setting up some debut finals in 200-meter racing for the following day.

Among those moving on to the final of the men's 200m single kayak include semifinal winners Mark de Jonge of Canada and Great Britain's Ed McKeever, a two-time world cup winner this year. German Ronald Rauhe, winner of 13 previous world titles and a 2009 world championship, also advanced.

In the men's 200m single canoe, Russian Ivan Shtyl', Lithuania's Jevgenij Shuklin and Yuri Cheban of the Ukraine all advanced to the final as semifinal winners. Those also moving on include German Sebastian Brendel, Spain's Alfonso Benavidez Lopes de Ayala and Canada's Jason McCoombs.

In the Olympic debut of women's 200m single kayak, Lisa Carrington of New Zealand had the fastest time in any of the three semifinals at 40.258 seconds.

Russia's Natalia Lobova and Hungary's Natasa Douchev-Janics also won their respective races to highlight those advancing to Friday's final.

In the men's 200m double kayak, Russian's Yury Postrigay and Alexander Dyachenko had the fastest time of the day, winning their semifinal at 32.051 seconds. Duos from Belarus, Great Britain and Canada are also among those set to race in Friday's final.

The 200m men's races are replacing 500m events from previous games, while women's 200m kayak is making its Olympic debut.

NEW ZEALAND, AUSTRALIA EARN SAILING GOLD

London, England (Sports Network) - New Zealand's Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie took gold in the women's 470 sailing class after winning the medal race Friday.

Aleh and Powrie entered the race tied with Great Britain's Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark after the opening series, but the New Zealand crew led throughout the decisive race.

Mills and Clark finished ninth in the medal race, but held on for silver. The Netherlands' Lis Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout won bronze.

The men's 470 medal race was also contested Friday. It was supposed to have been run Thursday before light winds prompted officials to postpone it.

Australians Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page entered the race with a narrow lead over Great Britain's Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell. Heading around the first mark, the British pair were first and the Australians were third.

But Belcher and Page surged ahead into the lead and eventually finished second behind Croatia's Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic. That gave the Australians the gold medal, while Patience and Bithell were fourth and took silver.

Argentina's Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente earned bronze.

Also in Friday, Australia and Spain advanced to the final of the women's Elliott 6m match racing event.

The semifinals were scheduled to be five-race matches, but were shortened to three. Australia beat Finland by a 2-1 margin, while Spain topped Russia by the same score.

The bronze and gold medal matches are both scheduled for Saturday.

AMERICAN BURROUGHS WINS FREESTYLE GOLD

London, England (Sports Network) - Jordan Ernest Burroughs claimed the United States' first gold medal in wresting at the London Olympics, winning the final of the men's 74-kilogram freestyle tournament on Friday.

Burroughs defeated Iran's Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi in a decision by points, earning the 24-year-old a gold in his Olympic debut. Burroughs had won the 2011 world championship.

"It feels awesome. I've prepared all my life for this, and it was well executed. I've been working hard and I've had big matches in my career, but this is the best. It's unreal and it's a dream. I expected to win and I always knew I would. He's my arch nemesis and I'm sure we'll have a lot of battles in the future," said Burroughs, who earned the United States' first medal in this event since 2000.

Goudarzi added an Olympic silver to his two second-place finishes in world championships.

Bronze medals went to Russia's Denis Tsargush, a two-time world champion who lost to Burroughs at last year's worlds, and Uzbekistan's Soslan Tigiev, a 2008 Beijing Games silver medalist.

Also decided on Friday was the men's 55kg freestyle, with the gold going to Russian Dzhamal Otarsultanov, a three-time European champion. He bested Georgia's Vladimer Khinchegashvili.

"It was tough, it was difficult but it all depends on your attitude in the end and mine was really positive. I wanted to win so much. The gold medal is really important to me," noted Otarsultanov.

Japan's Shinichi Yumoto and North Korea's Yang Kyong Il won bronze medals.

SOUTH KOREA TOPS JAPAN FOR BRONZE IN MEN'S SOCCER

Cardiff, Wales (Sports Network) - Chuyoung Park and Jacheol Koo scored on each side of half as South Korea downed Japan, 2-0, on Friday at Millennium Stadium in the bronze medal game in men's Olympic soccer.

Park scored in the 38th minute and Koo in the 57th, as South Korea claimed its first medal its ninth appearance. South Korea lost just once in the event - in the semifinals to Brazil.

Japan won its lone Olympic medal in men's soccer in 1968, when it won bronze.

Park opened the scoring in the battle of Asian countries seven minutes before halftime as he made a run through traffic and slotted off the hand of Japanese goalkeeper Gotoku Sakai to the right post.

Koo added the second goal for South Korea 12 minutes after half, as he settled the ball and drilled a shot off a short hop across his body to the bottom-left corner.

Bokyung Kim hit the right post on the hour-mark as South Korea nearly scored a third goal, but Japan could never respond to the two-goal deficit.

The closest Japan came to scoring was in the 87th, when Kenyu Sugimoto headed in a goal that was called back for a foul on teammate Maya Yoshida, who wiped out Korea goalkeeper Sungryong Jung.

Brazil and Mexico meet in the gold medal match on Saturday at 10 a.m. (ET) at Wembley Stadium.

HISTORY MADE, REPEATED IN BMX FINALS

London, England (Sports Network) - Mariana Pajon earned the second gold medal in Colombia's history and Latvia's Maris Strombergs repeated as Olympic champion Friday as BMX action at the London Games concluded.

Pajon, 20, won the women's final with a dominating ride. She got off to a good start, then was first across the line with a lap of 37.706 seconds.

New Zealand's Sarah Walker also used a good start to set herself up for a good finish, and trailed Pajon by 0.427 seconds for silver. The Netherlands' Laura Smulders took bronze.

Pajon's victory represented just the second gold medal in her country's Olympic history. Maria Isabel Urrutia won the women's 75kg weightlifting class at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Like Pajon, Strombergs got out of the gate quickly and was never in poor position in turns. He handled the course's features well and held off the field to take gold again.

Strombergs captured the medal four years ago in Beijing during BMX's first Olympics appearance. He has two of Latvia's three gold medals all-time.

Australian Sam Willoughby was 0.353 seconds slower than Stromberg's lap of 37.576 seconds. Carlos Mario Oquendo Zabala gave Colombia another medal by claiming bronze.

Connor Fields finished seventh to end a disappointing day for the United States.

He had been turning in fast lap times and won two semifinal runs earlier Friday. But in the final, he came out of the gate behind the field and never caught up. He crashed after his wheel was clipped in the final corner.

The only American in the women's final, Brooke Crain, came in last.

BRAZIL, RUSSIA TO PLAY FOR VOLLEYBALL GOLD

London, England (Sports Network) - Brazil and Russia, the top two teams in men's volleyball, will play for the gold medal after both earned semifinal wins Friday.

Top-ranked Brazil raced past Italy in 85 minutes, winning in straight sets 25-21, 25-12, 25-21 to reach the gold medal match for the third straight Olympics.

Russia, ranked No. 2 in the world, beat Bulgaria in four sets 25-21, 25-15, 23-25, 25-23 to guarantee a medal for the fourth straight Summer Games.

The gold medal match is Sunday afternoon. Italy and Bulgaria will play for the bronze medal in the morning.

Brazil won gold in 1992 and 2004, but lost the 2008 final in Beijing to the United States. It was led in Friday's match by Murilo Endres with 15 points, including 12 on spikes.

Russia's Maxim Mikhaylov, who entered play as the Olympic tournament's top scorer, had 25 points to lead all players Friday, getting 21 on spikes.

Russia has won a medal in each of the last three Olympics, including bronze in the last two. It won silver at the 2000 Sydney Games. The Soviet Union won a gold at the boycotted 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Italy has won four Olympic men's volleyball medals but never gold, while Bulgaria's only medal in the sport was a silver in 1980.

The U.S. men's team was knocked out here by Italy in the quarterfinals but the women's team will play for gold against Brazil on Saturday. Japan and South Korea will meet for the bronze.

ITALY, CROATIA ADVANCE TO MEN'S WATER POLO FINAL

London, England (Sports Network) - Italy will have a chance at its first men's water polo gold medal in 20 years after advancing out of Friday's semifinals with a victory over Serbia.

Waiting for the Italians in Sunday's final will be Croatia, which is looking for its first Olympic gold in the sport following a defeat of Montenegro.

Italy finished ninth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but is coming off a 2011 World Championship and bested defending Olympic gold medalists Hungary in the quarterfinals. It can now grab its first gold in the Olympics since 1992 in Barcelona.

In the 9-7 win over Serbia, which saw Italy score four times in the first period, Valentino Gallo paced the offense with three goals.

Croatia advanced with a 7-5 win, leading 5-1 by the half. Six different players had goals for Croatia, with Sandro Sukno scoring twice.

Following a sixth-place finish in Beijing, Croatia is looking to surpass its previous best finish of a silver at the 1996 Atlanta Games. It bested the United States, which finished second in Beijing, in the quarters.

FRANCE TO PLAY SWEDEN FOR HANDBALL GOLD

London, England (Sports Network) - France and Sweden will play for the men's handball gold medal after both won semifinal matches Friday at the London Olympics.

France won the title four years ago in Beijing, and will have a chance to defend its gold after earning a 25-22 victory over Croatia. Samuel Honrubia scored four times, including in the 59th minute to give France a five-goal advantage.

Croatia was the only team in the semifinals with an undefeated record in preliminary play.

Sweden held on for a 27-26 win to end Hungary's dream run -- it was the only semifinal participant to finish fourth in its group.

Kim Ekdahl du Rietz's tally in the 60th minute gave the Swedes a crucial two- goal buffer.

Sweden is now assured of a men's handball medal, something it hasn't claimed since 2000, when it earned the last of three consecutive silvers.

The goal medal match takes place Sunday afternoon, while Hungary and Croatia will play for bronze in the late morning.

KANAEVA, RUSSIA TOP QUALIFIERS IN RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICS

London, England (Sports Network) - Russia held onto its top spot in the group all-around standings in rhythmic gymnastics after the second and final day of qualifying, while Russians Evgeniya Kanaeva and Daria Dmitrieva switched positions in the individual all-around.

Dmitrieva led the individual standings after the first day with a score of 57.800, but finished third in the clubs routine and second in the ribbon to give her a total score of 114.525. That dropped her 1.475 points behind Kanaeva, who held the second-highest score coming in, but posted the top qualifying score at 116.000 thanks to event-leading marks in Friday's two routines.

Kanaeva, a three-time world champion, is trying to become the first rhythmic gymnast to win two Olympic gold medals in the all-around after also taking the title at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Belarus' Liubou Charkashyna fell to fifth after struggling in her two routines, passed by both Aliya Garayeva of Azerbaijan and Bulgaria's Silviya Miteva.

The top-8 qualifiers all advanced to Saturday's final. That field won't include American Julie Zetlin or Great Britain's Francesca Jones as they finished 21st and 24th, respectively.

Russia closed Thursday's qualifying with the top group all-around score and maintained its hold on the spot after logging the top score in the three ribbons and two hoops event. The Russians posted a 28.000 mark and led all qualifiers with a score of 56.375.

Russia has won gold at the past three Olympics and finished 0.575 points up on second-place Italy, which has won each of the last three world titles.

Great Britain and Canada occupied the last two positions in the standings and did not advance to the eight-team final slated for Sunday.

HWANG, CRISMANICH EARN TAEKWONDO GOLD

London, England (Sports Network) - South Korea's Hwang Kyung Seon repeated as Olympic champion of the women's 67-kilogram taekwondo weight class Friday, while Argentina's Sebastian Eduardo Crismanich claimed gold in the men's 80kg division.

Hwang guaranteed herself a third consecutive Olympic medal when she defeated Slovenia's Franka Anic in the semifinals, then beat Turkey's Nur Tatar by a 12-5 margin in the final.

The 26-year-old Hwang won bronze at the 2004 Athens Games, then reached the top step of the podium four years ago in Beijing.

The United States' Paige McPherson lost to Tatar in the quarterfinals, but made it through repechage to beat Anic for a bronze medal. German Helena Fromm earned the other.

Crismanich earned his gold thanks to a pair of close finishes. He beat Armenian Arman Yeremyan by a 2-1 score in the semis, then topped Spain's Nicolas Garcia Hemme in the final, 1-0.

Great Britain's Lutalo Muhammad beat Yeremyan for one bronze, while Italy's Mauro Sarmiento took the other.

American Steven Lopez, part of the Lopez taekwondo family, lost his opening match and never made it to repechage. He is a two-time gold medalist and won bronze in 2008.

USA'S STEVEN LOPEZ KNOCKED OUT OF TAEKWONDO DRAW

London, England (Sports Network) - The United States' Steven Lopez, part of the Lopez taekwondo family, was knocked out of the 80-kilogram draw Friday.

Lopez dropped his opener against top-seeded Ramin Azizov of Azerbaijan, and needed Azizov to reach the gold medal final in order to make the repechage round.

However, Azizov lost to Italy's Mauro Sarmiento, knocking Lopez out of contention for bronze.

Lopez, whose three siblings are also elite taekwondo competitors, is a two- time gold medalist and earned bronze four years ago in Beijing. His sister Diana and brother Mark also won medals, a bronze and a silver respectively, in 2008.

In London, though, Steven was eliminated a day after Diana finished seventh in the women's 57kg division Thursday.

CUBAN FAVORITE LOSES BOXING SEMIFINAL

London, England (Sports Network) - Reigning world champion Lazaro Alvarez Estrada of Cuba was upset by Irish boxer John Joe Nevin in a semifinal bout Thursday at the London Games.

Alvarez Estrada, the top seed in the men's bantamweight draw, was dealt a 19-14 loss by Nevin, who will now face Great Britain's Luke Campbell in Saturday's gold medal match.

The Cuban favorite will have to settle for bronze along with Japan's Satoshi Shimizu, who dropped a 20-11 decision to Campbell. All boxers who lose in the semifinal round are awarded bronze medals.

No. 1 seeds also fell in the semifinals of three other weight divisions on Friday as flyweight Misha Aloian of Russia, welterweight Taras Shelestryuk of the Ukraine and Azerbaijani super heavyweight Magomedrasul Medzhidov all were upset.

Mongolia's Tugstsogt Nyambayar beat Aloian and will fight Cuba's Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana for gold, while Shelestryuk was defeated by Great Britain's Freddie Evans, who will face second-seeded Serik Sapiyev of Kazakhstan for the welterweight title. After beating Medzhidov, Italy's Roberto Cammarelle earned a place in the super heavy gold medal bout against British fighter Anthony Joshua.

In other action, the top seed remaining in the semifinals of the light flyweight, light welterweight, middleweight and heavyweight classes all moved onto their respective gold medal matches.

The Ukraine's Oleksandr Usyk, the No. 1 seed in the heavyweight draw, demolished Tervel Pulev of Bulgaria, 21-5, to earn a spot in the final round against Italy's Clemente Russo. The second-seed Italian posted a 15-13 win in his semifinal bout against Azerbaijan's Teymur Mammadov.

China's Zou Shiming also earned a right to fight for gold. The No. 1 seed in the flyweight class was tied with Paddy Barnes of Ireland at 15-15 after the third round, but Zou was awarded the decision on countback.

Zou, who also beat Barnes in the semifinals four years ago in Beijing, will face Thailand's Kaeo Pongprayoon for gold. Pongprayoon beat third-seeded David Ayrapetyan of Russia in the other semifinal bout.

The gold medalist in the light welterweight class will be determined in a match between second seed Denys Berinchyk of the Ukraine and Cuba's Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo, who earlier in the tournament knocked off top-seeded Everton dos Santos Lopes of Brazil.

Iglesias Sotolongo beat Vincenzo Mangiacapre of Italy by a 15-8 score and Berinchyk was 29-21 winner over Mongolia's Munk-Erdene Uranchimeg.

In the men's middleweight competition, Japan's Ryota Murata, the second seed, will square off against Esquiva Falcao Florentino of Brazil for gold. Murata beat Uzbekistan's Abbos Atoev and the fourth-seeded Falcao Florentino dispatched Great Britain's Anthony Ogogo.

The lightweight title match will pit Vasyl Lomachenko of the Ukraine against South Korea's Soonchul Han, while the light heavyweight gold will be determined by the winner of a bout between Egor Mekhontcev of Russia and Kazakhstan's Adilbek Niyazymbetov.

CAS TO HEAR SWEDISH APPEAL OF WOMEN'S TRIATHLON RESULTS

London, England (Sports Network) - The Court of Arbitration for Sport will hold a hearing Friday evening to decide whether or not to award Swedish triathlete Lisa Norden an Olympic gold medal.

Norden finished the women's triathlon, which was held last Saturday, with the same time as Switzerland's Nicola Spirig -- 1 hour, 59 minutes and 48 seconds. In a photo finish, Spirig was awarded gold and Norden took silver.

Sweden's National Olympic Committee requested that the International Triathlon Union (ITU) rank Norden first along with Spirig.

But after the ITU rejected that appeal Wednesday, the Swedish NOC and triathlon federation took the issue up with CAS.

They believe the ITU did not follow procedures because it may not have taken into account the position of the athletes' torsos at the line. The two Swedish sports organizations also say that it's impossible to determine the position of Spirig's torso, as it is behind Norden in the photograph.

CAS' ad hoc division will hear the case Friday in London, and a decision will be made Saturday before noon.

SPRINTER NELLUM TO CARRY U.S. FLAG AT CLOSING CEREMONY

London, England (Sports Network) - Sprinter Bryshon Nellum, told by doctors four years ago that he would never walk again after being shot in both legs, has been chosen to carry the United States flag at Sunday's closing ceremony.

Nellum was selected by fellow U.S. team members at the London Olympics. The U.S. Olympic Committee made the announcement Friday night, after Nellum ran leadoff in the silver medal-winning men's 1,600-meter relay.

"I'm humbled by this incredible privilege," Nellum said. "Four years ago I wasn't sure I'd ever run again, and now I'm leading Team USA into the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games. I'm so grateful for the incredible support of my friends and family and I'll never forget these games."

USOC chief executive Scott Blackmun congratulated Nellum, saying: "His courage embodies the Olympic spirit and he'll represent our team well on Sunday night."

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