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Olympic Roundup: Bolt and USA dominate

Aug. 9, 2012 at 8:04 PM
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LONDON, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The only thing faster than Usain Bolt at the Olympics Thursday was the speed with which the United States piled up medals -- especially gold ones.

Bolt again left no doubt he is the world's fast human, running hard around the turn and then traveling at less than full speed to the finish line to win the 200-meter dash.

He has won both the 100 and 200-meter races at each of the last two Olympics, stamping himself as the most successful sprinter in history.

It took only a brief glance at Bolt's chief challenger to see the difference between Jamaica's superstar runner and the rest of the world.

Yohan Blake, who defeated Bolt at the Jamaican Olympic trials this summer, is much the smaller of the two men. As the final of the 200-meter dash progressed, Blake's legs were moving as fast as they possibly could as he tried to keep up. Bolt, meanwhile, was taking long, seemingly effortless strides while pulling away from the field.

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Bolt ran a time of 19.32 and led a Jamaican sweep of the 200 to highlight an evening of track and field that also included a world record in the 800-meter run.

Bolt, however, could be in only one place. The Americans, it seemed, were everywhere.

The U.S. women's soccer team gained the revenge it was looking for in winning its fourth gold medal in five tries and the American water polo team rolled to a surprisingly easy victory that created its first Olympic title.

A young boxer from the United States became one of the first three women to win an Olympic championship in her sport, and later in the day there were 1-2 American finishes in both the men's triple jump and decathlon.

A U.S. swimmer almost grabbed a victory in the 10-kilometer marathon before finishing second, and there was a bronze medal as well in taekwondo.

When the Olympics finally shut down for the night, the United States had won nine medals overall and the Americans had taken the lead over China in the medal race.

With 64 medals events left to go over the final three days of the Games, the United States gold total reached 39, two more than the Chinese and three more than the Americans collected in Beijing four years ago.

The American lead in overall medals reached 10, which is what it was at the end of the 2008 Olympics.

Most of the medals came in a burst of activity during the late-evening hours of Thursday's action.

The U.S. soccer team got two goals from Carli Lloyd and held on thanks to spectacular goaltending by Hope Solo to defeat Japan 2-1.

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There have been five Olympic women's soccer tournaments in history and the Americans have won four of them, including the last three. The victory was especially sweet since it avenged a penalty shootout loss to Japan in last year's World Cup.

The women's water polo squad fell behind 2-1 in the first period against Spain, then ran off seven straight goals on its way to an 8-5 victory. Maggie Steffens scored four of those unanswered goals and had five overall.

In 2008, the American women lost by a single goal in the title medal game to the Netherlands.

Claressa Shields, a mere 17, won the third of the three women's boxing gold medals awarded Thursday -- the first ever handed out. Shields won the middleweight division championship bout over Russian Nadezda Torlopova and thus earned the United States what will be its only boxing gold medal of these Olympics.

Most of the worldwide attention at Olympic Stadium was focused on Bolt and the world record of 1:40.91 turned in by Kenya's David Rudisha in the 800.

But there were also victories in the triple jump by American Christian Taylor and the completion of a tremendous decathlon performance by Ashton Eaton of the United States.

Taylor defeated fellow-American Will Claye in the triple jump and Trey Hardee gave the United States another silver medal by finishing behind Eaton.

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Over the course of the last two days, the American team has collected 18 medals, seven of them gold.

Britain also won its first individual dressage gold medal ever in the person of Charlotte Dujardin, Germany won its first gold medal in men's beach volleyball and Afghanistan's first medal winner ever, Rohullah Nikpah, won a bronze medal in taekwondo for the second straight Olympics.

Although China fell behind in the medal race, one thing was normal. China's Chen Ruolin won the women's platform diving event, giving the Chinese six victories on the board with one competition remaining.

Chen, like Bolt, has won both her specialties (the platform and synchronized platform events) in each of the last two Olympics.