SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Roller speed skater Tom Peterson of Tacoma, Wash., gave the United States its 11th gold medal in World Games I Wednesday by successfully holding off Italy's Guiseppe Cruciani to win the 5,000 meter race.
The women's 15,000 went to Annie Lambrechts of Belgium, the perennial world champion, with Paolo Christofori and Monica Lucchese, both of Italy, finishing second and third, respectively. Darlene Kessinger of New Albany, Ind., was a close fourth and Mary Barriere of Milwaukee was sixth.
Peterson, who stunned the world of international racing by winning three track championships last year (no American ever had won even one), had looked forward to his race here against Cruciani, the legendary Italian champ who beat him in the 1980 World Championships.
In the final 100 meters, it seemed Cruciani would catch Peterson, 21, but the American held on to win in 10:29.58, only .15 of a second ahead of Cruciani. Ermes Fossi, another Italian, won the bronze in 10:30.42.
Americans Chuck Jackson of Westland, Mich., Robb Dunn of Mount Clemens, Mich., and Dean Huffman of Boones Mill, Va., finished fifth, seventh and 11th, respectively.
'The United States team still is rough,' said Peterson. 'We're not together yet. I had to use my own tactics to win this race. We were strung out on the last lap, so I had to cut to the inside earlier than I wanted to.'
Cruciani went all out in the final straightaway. The Italian champion drew to within six yards of Peterson but that was as close as he could come as the American held on.
Lambrechts, a 17-time world champion, came close to being upset by Christofori, beating the Italian by one one-hundredths of a second. The winning time was 33:45.02 with Christofori finishing in 33:45.03, the same time given to Lucchese. Kessinger was another second behind.
Last December, Peterson beat Cruciani in the 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000. He hopes to duplicate that feat in the World Games, which he calls 'the most important races in recent years.'
In roller hockey, Johnny Raglin and Dick Chado scored goals in the final three minutes to earn the United States a 3-3 tie with Brazil; Portugal blanked winless Chile, 3-0; and Italy upset Argentina, 5-4, as Guiseppe Marzella scored three goals.
After three games, the United States and Portugal are tied for first place -- each at 2-0-1 -- while Italy is 2-1, Argentina is 1-1-1, Brazil 0-2-1 and Chile 0-3.