Kenyan runner completes long-distance Olympic sweep

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

Kenenisa Bekele did himself one better than last time, leading most of the way to easily win the 5,000-metre race Saturday and complete a long-distance double at the Beijing Olympics.

Four years after missing out on a similar feat at the Athens Games, Bekele added to his 10,000 gold by winning in an Olympic record time of 12 minutes 57.82 seconds.

The runners of the third leg wait for their teammates in the final of the men's 4x400-meter relay during 0athletics competitions at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing Saturday. Photo by The Associated Press

Beijing - Kenenisa Bekele did himself one better than last time, leading most of the way to easily win the 5,000-metre race Saturday and complete a long-distance double at the Beijing Olympics.

Four years after missing out on a similar feat at the Athens Games, Bekele added to his 10,000 gold by winning in an Olympic record time of 12 minutes 57.82 seconds.

"It is fantastic. It is very special," Bekele said. "It is not easy to achieve double gold."

Earlier at the Bird's Nest, Argentina won its second straight Olympic gold in men's soccer, avenging the 1996 final loss to Nigeria with a 1-0 win.

There were a total of 31 gold medals to be awarded Saturday, the penultimate day of the Beijing Games.

Meanwhile, Trampoline gymnast Karen Cockburn named Canada's flag-bearer for the closing ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics.

It would make a fitting end to Cockburn's successful Olympic career. She has twice had surgery on a right knee and would be hard-pressed to make it to the 2012 Olympics in London.

"I would like to continue jumping another couple years, but I don't know if I could go another four because the way my body feels," she said after winning her silver medal.

For Canada, Adam van Koeverden delivered for both himself and his country Saturday, paddling to a silver in the K1 500-metre race that eased the self-doubt in his mind and allowed Canada to match its third-best medal total ever at the Summer Games.

At 18 medals - three gold, nine silver, six bronze - and with no Canadians scheduled to compete Sunday when the 2008 Olympics conclude, the haul in Beijing equals the total from the 1992 Barcelona Games.

Only the 22 medals claimed at the 1996 Atlanta Games and the 44 Canadians won at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, which were boycotted by Eastern Bloc countries, rank higher.

Mountain biker Catharine Prendel, the synchronized swim team and 800-metre runner Gary Reed almost added to the tally Saturday, each posting a fourth-place finish.

Considering the bevy of other near-misses throughout the Games - Canada posted 12 fourth-place finishes in all - the Canadian performance marks a strong rebound from lacklustre efforts at the 2004 Athens Games (12 medals) and the 2000 Sydney Olympics (14 medals).

Bekele looked effortless in his run around the Olympic track, mostly staying out front and slowly but surely leaving his rivals behind.

Kenyan teammates Eliud Kipchoge and Edwin Cheryiyot Soi stayed with the Ethiopian great until the final lap, but neither had enough left to challenge Bekele at the finish.

Four years ago in Athens, Bekele missed out on the long-distance double when Hicham El Guerrouj beat him by .20 seconds in the 5,000.

Kipchoge finished second Saturday in 13:02.80, and Cheryiyot Soi was third in 13:06.22.

In the 4x400 relays, the United States rebounded from its sprint shutout to win both the men's and women's races

Jeremy Wariner anchored the men to victory in 2:55.39. The 400 champion LaShawn Merritt, 400 hurdles gold medallist Angelo Taylor and David Neville were also on the team.

In the women's race, Sanya Richards ran the final to help the Americans win in 3:18.55. Mary Wineberg, Allyson Felix and Monique Henderson made up the rest of the team.

Kenya's Wilfred Bungei won the men's 800, and teammate Nancy Jebet Langat took gold in the women's 1,500.

On the field, Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway successfully defended his Olympic javelin title with an Olympic record throw of 90.57, and Tia Hellebaut of Belgium won women's high jump with a leap of 2.05 metres.

In the men's soccer final, Angel di Maria scored the lone goal in Argentina's win, chipping the ball over onrushing goalkeeper Ambruse Vanzekin in the 58th minute.

Di Maria also scored for Argentina against the Netherlands in the quarter-final.

"South Korea beat defending champion Cuba 3-2 to win the baseball gold medal.

The South Koreans won after Yuliesky Gourriel grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.

The United States got the bronze medal with an 8-4 win over Japan.

Organizations: Beijing Olympics, Athens Games, Beijing Games

Geographic location: Canada, Argentina, Beijing Nigeria London United States Athens Kenya Norway Belgium Netherlands South Korea Japan

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