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US sweeps relay golds

First Posted 11:23:00 08/24/2008

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Beijing ? Kenenisa Bekele made it a unique double Olympic long-distance double for Ethiopia on Saturday, wearing down everyone who dared to keep pace in the 5,000 meters.

In 30 degree C (86 degree F) heat, cutting through the muggiest of conditions at the Bird?s Nest, Bekele took over from his teammates with 2 kilometers to go an imposed such a punishing pace that he didn?t need an explosive late finishing kick this time, just unmatched stamina.

His win by 30 meters over Eliud Kipchoge added to his 10,000 victory for the first double since Lasse Viren in Montreal 32 years ago.

And with Tirunesh Dibaba doing the same in the women?s distance races, it was the first long-distance sweep for one nation.

This time Bekele?s tactics were totally different. Dragging all others through in Olympic record pace, he finished in 12 minutes, 57.82 seconds, the first sub-13 minute Olympic race in history.

World champion Bernard Lagat of the United States was flat again. Seeking to repeat the 1,500-5,000 double of last year?s world championships, he failed twice, finishing only ninth to end a disappointing Olympics.

Soon afterward in a muggy Bird?s Nest filled to its 91,000 capacity yet again, Langat won the 1,500 at the Beijing Olympics.

In a seesaw battle with world champion Maryam Jamal of Bahrain, Langat came out on top during a draining last lap.

Slowly, Langat pulled away to finish in 4:00.23 while Jamal slumped under the pressure and the heat. The pre-race champion was even overtaken by Ukrainian teammates Iryna Lyshchynska and Nataliya Tobias for silver and bronze.

US tops 4x400 relays

After U.S. sprinters botched their sprint relays, their 4x400 runners came through, with Sanya Richards and Jeremy Wariner compensating individual failures with team gold.

When Richards, the 400 bronze medalist, took the baton for the final leg, the U.S. team was trailing Russia. But she closed the gap, catching Anastasia Kapachinskaya in the final straight and, with clenched teeth, secured the gold medal in the last meters in 3:18.55. Jamaica was third. AP


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