Olympics double cheers for US

BEIJING - The US regained Olympic track and field superiority with the last two races in the Bird's Nest on Saturday, putting a week of disappointment behind them when they won the 4x400m relays.

BEIJING - The US regained Olympic track and field superiority with the last two races in the Bird's Nest on Saturday, putting a week of disappointment behind them when they won the 4x400m relays.

Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele completed the elusive 5000m-10000m double and Kenya cleaned up the two middle-distance races.

Combat sports again provided controversy with a Cuban taekwondo exponent banned after kicking a referee, and a British boxer claiming he was bitten by his Cuban opponent.

On the penultimate day of the Beijing Games, China took an unassailable lead on the overall medal table with 49, ahead of the US on 34, Russia with 21 and Great Britain 19.

But victories in the men's and women's 4x400m relays lifted the US to seven athletics titles, one more than Russia and Jamaica with only the men's marathon yesterday.

The US track team, who have suffered a week of upsets, including losing their all-around sprint crown to Jamaica, recovered thanks to a remarkable run by women's anchor Sanya Richards.

Jamaican-born American Richards saved the US's face when she took the baton several metres behind Russia's Anastasia Kapachinskaya and overtook her on the line.

Bekele emulated Ethiopian compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba in claiming the long-distance double - the first man to achieve the feat since another Ethiopian, Miruts Yifter, at the 1980 Moscow Games.

Kenya enjoyed a double gold when Wilfred Bungei won their first men's 800m title in 16 years and Nancy Langat won the women's 1500m.

Lionel Messi rewarded Argentina in gold for fighting for his right to be at the Olympics when he set up the winning goal in their 1-0 triumph over Nigeria in the men's football final.

In a match played inside the Bird's Nest, Messi put Angel Di Maria clear early in the second half and the Benfica player chipped over the goalkeeper. - Sapa-AFP

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