Caribbean men are dominating the speed events on the Olympic track, with Kirani James of Grenada taking the 400-meter gold medal and Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic winning the 400-meter hurdles.
American Jennifer Suhr dethroned two-time champion Elena Isinbaeva of Russia in the women’s pole vault, the U.S. women’s soccer team advanced to a gold-medal match against Japan and the U.S. men’s basketball team defeated Argentina by 29 points yesterday at the London Games.
A day after Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake won gold and silver in the 100 meters, five of the six medals awarded in the 400 and 400 hurdles went to men from Caribbean islands.
“This is not just for me, this is for my whole country,” the 19-year-old James, who won in 43.94 seconds to become the first non-American to break 44 seconds in the 400, told reporters. “Everyone in Grenada will be proud.”
With six days left, China leads the standings with 64 medals, 31 of them gold. The U.S. is second with 29 golds among its 63 medals. Host Britain has 40 medals, including 18 golds.
Medals will be awarded in 21 events today, including four in track and field and the final four gymnastics competitions of the 2012 Olympics.
James, fellow 19-year-old Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic and 23-year-old Lalonde Gordon of Trinidad & Tobago made it a Caribbean sweep in the 400.
Sanchez, 34, became the oldest Olympic 400 hurdles champion by finishing in a season-best 47.63 seconds. He also won the event in Athens eight years ago, in exactly the same time. Michael Tinsley of the U.S. took the silver medal, with Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson claiming the bronze.
“No one expected this,” Sanchez said. “A lot of people said I should retire, but I stuck with it. They’ll all be celebrating now.”
The 30-year-old Suhr, a silver medalist in 2008, won the women’s pole vault with a jump of 4.75 meters (15 feet, 7 inches). Cuba’s Yarisley Silva, 25, took silver and former gymnast Isinbaeva, 30, a Russian who has broken her own world record 28 times and was trying to become the first woman to win three consecutive gold medals in the same individual track and field event, got bronze.
“It’s really breathtaking,” Suhr, who is coached by her husband, Richard, told reporters. “To have faith and to have it all come together and to achieve what we dreamt of, it’s amazing.”
The U.S. came from behind three times to beat Canada 4-3 after extra time and advance to the final of the women’s soccer tournament. Alex Morgan’s goal in the 123rd minute gave the U.S. the victory at Old Trafford in Manchester. The Americans will meet Japan, which defeated France 2-1 in the semifinals, for the gold medal on Aug. 9 at Wembley Stadium in London in a rematch of last year’s World Cup final.
Christine Sinclair scored all three goals for Canada, with each giving her team the lead in the game. Megan Rapinoe had two goals for the U.S. and Abby Wambach scored on a penalty kick.
The U.S has reached the final of all five Olympic women’s soccer tournaments. It’s won three gold medals, including the past two.
The U.S. men’s basketball team defeated Argentina 126-97 to advance to the elimination stage of the competition with a 5-0 record.
Kevin Durant of the National Basketball Association’s Oklahoma City Thunder led the U.S. with 28 points, hitting eight 3-pointers, and LeBron James of the Miami Heat added 18 points.
The defending Olympic champions held a 60-59 halftime lead before outscoring Argentina 42-17 in the third quarter to pull away for the victory in London. Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs led Argentina with 16 points.
“In the first half, they ran their offense to a tee,” U.S. guard Chris Paul, who had 17 points and seven assists, told reporters. “We came out and played a much better third quarter and second half. They made us compete.”
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