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Bolt wins a third gold for Jamaica in relay

Usain 'Lightning' Bolt powered the Jamaican men to a world record victory in the 100 metres relay, sealing his place as the dominant track athlete of the Beijing Olympics. Spl: Beijing Olympics 2008

india Updated: Aug 23, 2008 01:29 IST
Sean Maguire

Usain "Lightning" Bolt powered the Jamaican men to a world record victory in the 100 metres relay on Friday, sealing his place as the dominant track athlete of the Beijing Olympics.

It was the third world record for Bolt, who has stolen the show in the second week of the Games with his dazzling victories in the 100 and 200 metres and his theatrical celebrations.

Bolt gave an assured performance on the third leg of the relay, safely handing the baton to former world record holder Asafa Powell, who powered home in 37.10 seconds, knocking a solid three tenths of a second off the 15-year-old American record.

Just getting round the track safely was a priority for the men after the Jamaican 4x100m women bungled their baton handover to hand gold to Russia and snuff out the Caribbean island's chance of winning all athletic speed events at the Olympics.

Sherone Simpson failed to get the baton across to Kerron Stewart, the woman she shared the 100m silver medal with, and the Russian sprinters seized their chance.

Jamaica had won both women's individual speed events as well as the two individual golds seized by Bolt.

The new men's relay record underlined by how far the Jamaicans have eclipsed the United States, the traditional track superpower, at this Olympics. The American men and women were knocked out of the relay heats by embarrassing baton fumbles.

Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba stormed to victory in the 5,000m, becoming the first woman to win both long distance races at the same Olympics. She won the 10,000m a week ago in the second fastest time recorded.

Her great rival and compatriot Meseret Defar was pushed into third by Ethiopian-born Elvan Abeylegesse, who runs for Turkey, who also won silver in the 10,000m.

The anticipated dominance of long distance track running by the Ethiopians should be continued by 10,000m gold medallist Kenenisa Bekele who is aiming for the double in the men's events. The 5,000m is on Saturday, the last full day of competition.

Age questions

China have barely featured in the track events, where they had hoped to score some success to match their medal dominance in sports like table tennis and diving.

Big hope, 110m hurdler Liu Xiang, pulled out of his heat with injury, devastating legions of Chinese fans who had prayed for a repeat of his 2004 win, the country's first track gold.

Concerns have resurfaced over how far China would go to deliver a Games of which the Chinese can be proud.

The International Olympic Committee has ordered an investigation into allegations Chinese authorities falsified the age of a double gold medal winning gymnast because she was too young to compete.

China's He Kexin, who won team gold in artistic gymnastics and an individual title on the asymmetric bars, was registered as being born on Jan. 1, 1992, meeting the rule that gymnasts must at least turn 16 in the year of the Olympics.

There have been persistent media allegations He competed in earlier tournaments under a later birth date. On Thursday an American computer expert said he had uncovered Chinese state documents that proved she was 14 and not 16.

The caption on a photograph published by Chinese state news agency Xinhua last year referred to "13-year-old He Kexin", while China Daily reported in May that she was 14.

An IOC official said the gymnastics federation would look into "discrepancies" over He's age but Games organisers were at pains to stress she had already been cleared to compete.

The age rule was introduced in 1997 to protect gymnast's health, and China's gymnastics coach told a news conference all the team "were in total compliance with the age requirement".

"Since Asian bodies are not the same as Westerners', there have been questions, but there shouldn't be," Chinese head coach Huang Yubin said. A finding is likely to come well after the Games end on Sunday and the intense media focus moves elsewhere.

The eight golds of swimmer Michael Phelps, Bolt's superb sprinting and China's dominance of the medal table have been the stories of the Games.

China now have 46 golds to the 31 won by America. The Chinese say this shows they now have the sporting prowess to match their rising superpower status.

Thrills and spills

There were thrills and spills on the BMX track on Friday as the Games' youngest competition produced a thrilling finale.

The BMX competition was introduced at these Games to attract a younger audience. France's Anne-Caroline Chausson won the women's gold after a tight race with Britain's Shanaze Reade, who crashed on the final bend as she tried to regain the lead.

The dreadful week for the American sprinters, in which they failed to win gold for the first time since 1976, prompted a post mortem from the "extremely disappointed" chief of U.S. athletics.

"These are professional athletes who are the best in their field and anybody who ever ran a high school relay cringes when that baton hits the track," Doug Logan said.

The Americans hope for more golds in the men's and women's basketball, with the highly-paid NBA players overwhelming favourites to win the gold they embarrassingly missed in Athens.