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Day 5: U.S. Closes in on China
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China's five-day lead on the Olympic gold tally will be kept at least overnight as the United States is closing in on the 2000 third overall finisher with a four-gold haul on Wednesday.

On the fifth day that had 21 gold medals at stake, 14 countries struck gold with the United States picking four plus a new world record.

The Americans turned out the biggest winner after Paul Hamm lifted its fourth gold in the men's all-around gymnastics competition with 57.823 points, beating South Koreans Kim Dae Eun and Yang Tae Young.

Japan, Germany, Ukraine and the Netherlands claimed two golds apiece while Georgia, Bulgaria and Poland opened their gold accounts in Athens.

After a gold-less Tuesday, China managed one title from lifter Zhang Guozheng, the country's third gold in this power sport, to make it 11 in total, only one ahead of the United States which hadtopped the 1996 and 2000 Games.

Japan came in third with eight golds including the two won by breaststroker Kosuke Kitajima, followed by Australia on seven.

The thrill of the day came from the swimming pool as the United States broke the oldest world swimming record and won the women's 4x200m freestyle relay.

The U.S. women retained the title they won in 2000 with a time of 7:53.42, breaking the old mark of 7:55.47 set by East Germany in Strasbourg exactly the same day 17 years ago.

It was the second swim world record of the day and the fourth from the Olympic Aquatic Center.

Earlier in the night, Australian Jodie Henry broke the women's 100m freestyle world record in a semifinal. She timed 53.52 seconds, bettering the previous standard of 53.66 set by compatriot Lisbeth Lenton in March 2004.

The world marks of the men's 400m individual medley and men's 4x100m freestyle relay had already been erased by American Michael Phelps and the South Africans respectively.

China snatched the women's 4x200 freestyle relay silver and Germany landed the bronze.

Flying Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband took the men's 100m freestyle final to keep the title he won in Sydney.

    He splashed home first in 48.17 seconds and South African Roland Schoeman finished in 48.23 to add a silver to the gold he won in the 4x100 freestyle relay.

    Australian Ian Thorpe had to settle for the bronze in 48.56 to go with the two golds and one silver.

    Japan's Kosuke Kitajima completed a 100-200m breaststroke double as he triumphed over 200m in 2:09.04, beating 15-year-old Hungarian Daniel Gyurta and world record holder Brendan Hansen of the United States into second and third places.

    Poland's Otylia Jedrzejczak added her women's 200m butterfly gold to two silvers as she clocked a winning time of 2:06.05.

Australia's Petria Thomas and Japanese Yuko Nakanishi came second and third respectively.

On the opening day of athletics competition, European champion Irina Korzhanenko, stripped of a world indoor title for a doping offense in 1999, claimed the women's shot put crown with a third-attempt toss of 21.06m.

Cuban Yumiledi Cumba came second and German Nadine Kleinert wasthird in the first athletics competition held in the site of the ancient Games since 393 AD.

Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine seized the men's shot put event with amassive final toss of 21.16m.

Adam Nelson of the United States also tossed 21.16m but finished with a silver because Bilonog owned a better second best.Joachim Olsen of Denmark took the bronze with a 21.07 push.

China's sole gold for the day came from men's lifter Zhang Guozheng in the 69kg division, who collected a weight of 347.5kg, five kilos over Lee Bae Young of South Korea.

The other weightlifting gold went to Ukraine's Natliya Skakum in the women's 63kg class.

China's dominance in its traditionally strong events of table tennis and badminton was shaken to the root, as men's singles second seed Ma Lin, women's singles third seed Niu Jianfeng and doubles duo Kong Linghui/Wang Hao were shut out of the table tennis competition.

The top-ranked Chinese Gong Ruina was eliminated from the women's singles in the badminton tournament while all three men's singles players had been sent packing up.

In the Markopoulo Olympic Center, the United States nabbed its first shooting gold as Kimberly Rhode won the women's double trap by hitting 146 targets, one ahead of South Korean Lee Bo Na who picked the silver.

China's Gao E took the bronze just as she did in Sydney.

Bulgarian markswoman Maria Grozdeva successfully defended her Olympic title, rallying to shoot down the women's 25m pistol gold.

Grozdeva, who trailed joint leaders Irada Ashumova of Azerbaijan and Czech Lenka Hykova by four points in the qualification round, erased the deficit with 103.2 points in the final to score 688.2 in total, a new Olympic record.

In cycling, Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel's Olympic swansong ended with a fourth Olympic gold to add her golden hat-trick in Sydney.

Three days after a scary road race crash that injured her head,hip and shoulders, the legendary Dutchwoman, who will retire afterthis Games, soundly beat a strong field to win the 25km individualtime trial in 31 minutes 11.53 seconds.

American Deirdre Demet-Barry came second, 24.09 seconds behind.Karin Thuerig of Switzerland took bronze, 43.36 apart from the winner.

U.S. cyclist Tyler Hamilton won the men's road individual time trial in 57:31.74, ahead of Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov and American Bobby Julich.

South Korea was invincible in the Olympic women's archery, sweeping the top two with the bronze going to Briton Alison Williamson.

Park Sung Hyun beat teammate Lee Sung Jin in the last arrow, 10points against eight, to win the final 110-108.

The same-country clash also took place in the women's individual foil fencing, where defending champion Valentina Vezzali won an all-Italian duel against best friend Giovanna Trillini 15-9.

The first equestrian top honors were swept by Germany. Bettina Hoy Germany, riding Ringwood Cockatoo, won the individual three-day event after leading compatriots to the team title.

Elena Kaliska won Slovakia's first gold in Athens in the canoeing slalom women's kayak single, while French Tony Estanguet retained the men's canoe single title but only after a time penalty belatedly denied a Slovakia's sweep.

Slovakia's Michal Martikan, who won a 1996 Olympic gold as 17-year-old, had finished the course the fastest but was deducted twopoints for touching a gate 20 minutes after he thought he was the winner.

Georgia ended its gold drought through Zurab Zviadauri who subdued Japan's Hiroshi Izumi in the men's 90kg judo.

Japan, however, had one more judo title, won by Masae Ueno in the women's 70kg final over Edith Bosch of the Netherlands.

Disgraced Greek sprinters Kostas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou pulled out of the Athens Games on Wednesday, nearly a week after they missed a drug test.

The International Olympic Committee didn't punish the sprintersand instead referred the case to the International Association of Athletics Federations.

The IAAF will not made a decision until after the Games.
(Xinhua News  Agency  August 19, 2004) 

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