Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic recaptured the Olympic 400 metres hurdles title at the age of 34, eight years after he first won it, on a second successive golden night for Caribbean runners at the London Games.
“No one expected this. A lot of people said I should retire but I stuck with it. They’ll all be celebrating now,” said Sanchez. After finishing, he took out and kissed a picture of his grandmother Lillian, who died during the Beijing Olympics.
On a tough night for defending Olympic champions, 33-year-old American Angelo Taylor came fifth, failing in his attempt to become the first man to win three titles in the event after gold in 2000 and 2008.
Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, bidding for a third successive gold medal in the women’s pole vault, could only manage bronze behind Jennifer Suhr of the United States who went one better than her silver medal in Beijing, and Yarisley Silva of Cuba.
Isinbayeva never looked comfortable on a chilly, rainy evening. After missing at 4.55 metres, she cleared the next two notches at 4.65 and 4.70 but could not improve on that mark, ending 5 cm short of her rivals.
Russian world champion Yuliya Zaripova won the women’s 3,000 metres steeplechase, leading from the start and storming across the line well clear of Tunisia‘s Habiba Ghribi and Ethiopia‘s Sofia Assefa.
“It was easy to win this gold, I was very confident about winning. I’m very good at steeplechase,” she told reporters, grinning from ear to ear.
“Towards the end I saw the scoreboard, I could hear the roar in the stadium but I kept my concentration to the very end.”
Javier Culson took bronze in the hurdles to become the first Puerto Rican to win an Olympic athletics medal.
OVATION FOR BOLT
There were huge cheers and an explosion of flashbulbs around the 80,000-capacity stadium when Usain Bolt leapt onto the podium to receive his gold medal for winning Sunday night’s 100 metres final in an Olympic record 9.63 seconds.
The gangly Jamaican sprinter will run in the 200m heats on Tuesday, bidding to become the first man to win two golds at that distance and cement his place as unquestionably the greatest sprinter in history.
On Sunday night he appeared in no great rush to turn his attention to the 200, as newspaper pictures showed him celebrating his gold with friends at 3 a.m.
Hundreds of Bolt fans in his home country had braved the wind and heavy rain of a gathering tropical storm to watch outdoor screenings of the 100m final.
The Australian, who holds the event’s fastest performance since 1992 (12.28 seconds), is likely to face competition from American duo Lolo Jones, best remembered for stumbling in the final while favourite in Beijing, and defending Olympic champion Dawn Harper.
Kenya‘s Asbel Kiprop, the world’s fastest man over 1500m this year, will have one thing on his mind in London — to win the event properly. The world champion has often expressed his dissatisfaction at taking Olympic gold in Beijing after Rashid Ramzi was stripped of his title for a doping offence.
Algerian Taoufik Makhloufi, who beat Kiprop in Sunday’s semi-final, was provisionally thrown out of the Games for not trying hard enough in an 800m heat, but later reinstated.
Makhloufi had not planned to run in the 800m heats, but the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said his team had failed to withdraw him in time and he had to compete.
When he stepped off the track after jogging round for half a lap, the athletics referee disqualified him from all further events for not making a bona fide effort.
His team said he had a knee injury. The IAAF later said in a statement his disqualification had been revoked after a review of medical evidence.
Italy‘s reigning Olympic 50km walk champion Alex Schwazer was excluded from the Games for failing a doping test, Italian state broadcaster RAI reported. And American judoka Nick Delpopolo was barred after testing positive for marijuana, which he blamed on unwittingly eating a “hash brownie”.
Yang Hak-seon won the men’s vault with his spectacular triple-twisting front somersault. Brazil‘s Arthur Zanetti f lexed his bulging biceps to topple China‘s 2008 Olympic champion Chen Yibing and secure victory in the men’s rings.
Aliya Mustafina upset the favourites in the women’s asymmetric bars to collect Russia‘s first gymnastics gold of the Games.
Omid Noroozi became Iran’s second winner in two days in wrestling, and waiter Giovanni Cernogoraz served up a gold for Croatia when he overcame tears and Italy‘s Massimo Fabbrizi in a shootoff to win the men’s trap shooting event.
Hosts Britain lie third with 18 after picking up wins in team show jumping and for Jason Kenny in the track cycling sprint. DM
Photo: The Olympic Flame burns in front of a TV screen displaying a picture of Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic as he receives his gold medal for winning the men’s 400m hurdles final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 6, 2012. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
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