Argentina win second straight football gold

Beijing, August 23:

Kenenisa Bekele did himself one better than last time, leading most of the way to

easily win the 5,000-meter race today and complete a long-distance double at the Beijing Olympics. Four years after missing out on a similar feat at the Athens Games, Bekele added to his 10,000m gold by winning in an Olympic record time of 12 minutes, 57.82 seconds.

Earlier at the Bird’s Nest, Argentina won their second straight Olympic gold in men’s football, avenging the 1996 final loss to Nigeria with a 1-0 win. There were a total of 31 gold medals to be awarded on Saturday, the penultimate day of the Beijing Games.

Angel di Maria scored the lone goal in Argentina’s win, chipping the ball over onrushing goalkeeper Ambruse Vanzekin in the 58th minute. Nigeria beat Argentina 3-2 in the final of the Atlanta Games, but the Argentines defeated Paraguay 1-0 in the 2004 final.

Besides the men’s football match, there were also team finals in women’s volleyball, handball and basketball, and men’s field hockey and baseball. Other medals were decided in canoe-kayak, mountain biking, boxing, taekwondo, diving and table tennis.

Bekele looked effortless in his run around the Olympic track, mostly staying out front and slowly but surely leaving his rivals behind. Kenyan teammates Eliud Kipchoge and Edwin Cheryiyot Soi stayed with the Ethiopian great until the final lap, but neither had enough left to challenge Bekele at the finish. Four years ago in Athens, Bekele missed out on the long-distance double when Hicham El Guerrouj beat him by .20 seconds in the 5,000.

In the 4x400 relays, the United States rebounded from their sprint shutout to win both the men’s and women’s races. Jeremy Wariner anchored the men to victory in 2:55.39. The 400 champion LaShawn Merritt, 400 hurdles gold medalist Angelo Taylor and David Neville were also on the team. In the women’s race, Sanya Richards ran the final to help the Americans win in 3:18.55. Mary Wineberg, Allyson Felix and Monique Henderson made up the rest of the team.

Kenya’s Wilfred Bungei won the men’s 800, and teammate Nancy Jebet Langat took gold in the women’s 1,500. On the field, Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway successfully defended his Olympic javelin title with an Olympic record throw of 90.57, and Tia Hellebaut of Belgium won women’s high jump with a leap of 2.05 metres. World champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia took silver by clearing the same height as Hellebaut on her second attempt.

Russia swept both synchronized swimming golds for the third consecutive Olympics by adding the team event to Anastasia Ermakova and Anastasia Davydova’s duet win. James Degale won boxing’s middleweight division, giving Britain their 19th gold medal — the country’s best haul since they hosted the 1908 London Games and won 56.

South Korea beat defending champion Cuba 3-2 to win the baseball gold medal. The South Koreans won after Yuliesky Gourriel grounded into a double play with the bases loaded. The United States got the bronze medal with an 8-4 win over Japan.

Norway won the women’s team handball competition, beating Russia 34-27, and Brazil defeated the United States 25-18, 18-25, 25-13 25-21 to win their first gold

medal in women’s volleyball. Germany won the men’s field hockey title by beating Spain 1-0.

Taekwondo saw a dramatic last day of competition, with Cuba’s Angel Matos and his coach banned for life because the over-80-kilogram fighter kicked the referee in the face following his bronze-medal match disqualification.

Matos was winning 3-2 with 1:02 in the second round when he fell to the mat after being hit by Arman Chilmanov Kazakhstan. Matos was then disqualified for taking more than the allotted one minute of injury time.