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Day 12: Russia Gets into Gear
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Belatedly, Russia got into gear.

The perennial sporting power woke up from lethargy by sweeping five gold medals in the Olympic Games on Wednesday. If it steams along, the world's largest country is expected to make it to the top three although it may be too late to catch up with China.

Russia, which overtook China in the last days in the 2000 Games for being second overall after the United States, now places fifth,certain to go ahead of Japan (15 golds in 4th) and Australia (16, 3rd) but unlikely to beat the United States (25, 1st) and China (24, 2nd).

A daily haul of five golds was the largest for Russia since the full-day competition kicked off on Aug. 14. The second-placers in 1996 and 2000 managed only six golds in the first 10 days and added three on Tuesday.

Then came the day of Russia.

Olga Kuzenkova capped the day by winning the women's hammer throw at midnight with the last throw of 75.02 meters, beating Cubans Yipsi Moreno (73.36) and Yunaika Crawford (73.16).

World champions Anastasia Davydova and Anastasia Yermakova scored eight perfect 10s on their way to winning the synchronized swimming duet event.

The 21-year-old Russians led all three rounds to force Japan's Miya Tachibana and Miho Takeda into second place again after the 2000 Games and the world championships last year.

The Russians scored 99.334 points against 98.417 by the Japanese.

The U.S. pair of Alison Bartosik and Anna Kozlova took the bronze with 96.918.

Russia bagged two titles in men's Greco-Roman wrestling as Alexei Michine triumphed in the 84kg class and Khasan Baroev won the 120kg.

Hungary's Istvan Majoros and Farid Mansurov of Azerbaijan won the 55kg and 66kg wrestling respectively.

Russian cyclist Olga Slyusareva won women's points race with 20points, ahead of Belem Guerrero of Mexico and Maria Luisa Calle Williams of Colombia.

Australians Stuart O'Grady and Ryan Bayley took the men's Madison and Keirin finals, raising the country's cycling golds to five.

The athletics competition saw an early exit by four-time 110m hurdles world champion Allen Johnson of the United States, who fell at the second-to-last hurdle in a second round race, boosting Liu Xiang's chance to win China's first ever men's athletics gold in the Olympics.

The 21-year-old Liu won his heat in 13.26 seconds for a semifinal spot although he apparently eased up in the last meters.

Veronica Campbell snatched Jamaica's first gold in Athens when she won the 200m dash in 22.05 seconds.

Campbell, who also won a bronze over 100m, timed a personal best to finish ahead of American teenager Allyson Felix in 22.18 and Debbie Ferguson of the Bahamas in 22.30.

Greek Fani Halkia completed her meteoric rise by storming to the women's 400m hurdles title in 52.82 seconds, beating Romania'sIonela Tirlea-Manolache in 53.38 and Ukraine's Tetiana Tereshchuk-Antipova in 53.44.

The "Hercules" Hossein Rezazadeh remained the world's strongestman, defending his 120kg division weightlifting gold with a stunning show of strength.

The Iranian wooed the crowd by lifting 210kg in the snatch and heaving a world record of 263.5kg in the clean and jerk for a world mark tying total of 472.5 kg.

Viktors Scerbatihs of Latvia landed the silver and Velichko Cholakov of Bulgaria got the bronze.

It was Katherine Allen of Austria who opened the day with victory in the women's triathlon in the morning.

The 34-year-old, who only took up the sport eight years ago, timed two hours four minutes and 43 seconds from swimming, cycling and running.

Australian Loretta Harrop, who had been leading the pace in the race, was pushed to second in the last 20 meters and had to settlefor a silver. Susan Williams of the United States finished third.

Windsurfer Gal Friedman ended Israel's gold drought by winning the men's mistral event and France's Faustine Merret won the women's mistral gold.

In equestrian, Anky Van Grunsven of the Netherlands claimed the individual dressage top honor with Ulla Salzgeber of Germany and Beatriz Ferrer-Salat of Spain taking silver and bronze respectively.

Brazil lifted its first men's Olympic beach volleyball title asRicardo Santos and Emanuel Rego beat Spain's Javier Bosma and Pablo Herrera 21-16, 21-15 in the final.

Cuba, 24-time world champion, restored its dominance in baseball, routing Australia 6-2 to take the gold medal.

Japan downed Canada 11-2 for the bronze.
(Xinhua News Agency  August 26, 2004) 

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