Track and field

Walker's win keeps Jamaica on the run

Associated Press / August 21, 2008
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BEIJING - By the way, another Jamaican became an Olympic champion.

Melaine Walker powered her way to victory in the 400-meter hurdles, the final event on the track last night with the Bird's Nest still buzzing in the afterglow of her countryman Usain Bolt's dazzling world-record 200.

"Jamaica is great right now," Walker said. "I'm proud of every single soul."

Walker won in an Olympic-record and personal-best 52.64 seconds, well ahead of American Sheena Tosta, who took the silver at 53.70. Britain's Tasha Danvers won the bronze at 53.84.

Walker broke the Olympic record of 52.82 set by fellow Jamaican Deon Hemmings in 1996.

In the 110-meter hurdles semifinals, world record-holder Dayron Robles and Americans David Oliver and David Payne made it to the final, to be run today without China's Liu Xiang, the defending Olympic champion, who withdrew Monday with a foot injury.

In the women's 200-meter semis, Americans Allyson Felix, Muna Lee, and Marshevet Hooker advanced, as did the Jamaican trio of Veronica Campbell-Brown, Sherone Simpson, and Kerron Stewart. The Americans are hoping to avoid a replay of the 100 final, where Jamaica swept the medals.

Running in his first Olympics for the US, Bernard Lagat advanced to the 5,000-meter final, winning his heat in 13 minutes 39.70 seconds to move on to Saturday night's medal race. The native Kenyan failed to qualify for the 1,500-meter final.

In the men's 800, where the US is not considered a medal threat, Nick Symmonds advanced past the first round while Andrew Wheating and Christian Smith failed to make it out.

Olga Kaniskina of Russia won the women's 20-kilometer race walk gold medal in a dominating performance. Kjersti Tysse Platzer of Norway, who was second at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, claimed another silver, and Italy's Elisa Rigaudo won bronze. Joanne Dow of Manchester, N.H., was 31st.

In the women's hammer throw, Aksana Miankova of Belarus won the gold medal, setting an Olympic record with her next-to-last mark of 250 feet 5 inches. Yipsi Moreno of Cuba took silver and China's Zhang Wenxiu bronze.

American Bryan Clay got off to a strong start in a rainy opening session this morning to take an early lead in the decathlon. The 2005 world champion had the best 100 meters in 10.44 seconds, then had the best long jump in his group at 25-6 1/4. That gave him 1,994 points with three events remaining on the first of two days of competition. American Trey Hardee was second with 1,960 points. Clay's top challenger, reigning world and Olympic champion Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic, was seventh.

A downpour forced an hourlong delay in the men's javelin and women's high jump qualifying, and a half-hour postponement of the decathlon long jump.

Injury-plagued American Breaux Greer managed only one throw in the javelin, passing on his final two attempts and failing to advance to the finals.

David Svoboda of the Czech Republic set an Olympic modern pentathlon mark for shooting points, earning 191 of a possible 200 points, 3 short of the world record.

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