Walker runs to gold with Olympic record

JAMAICA’S Melaine Walker continued her nation’s stunning Olympics, winning gold in the 400m hurdles in a new Olympic record of 52.64s.

Walker powered off the final hurdle to finish comfortably ahead of American Sheena Tosta, with Britain’s Natasha Danvers putting an injury-plagued season behind her to snatch bronze.

“I was kind of expecting it,” Walker said. “I’ve dreamed about it a million times. I see my race over and over and I can see myself crossing the finish line.”

The first gold medal of the evening went to Aksana Miankova of Belarus after a throw of 76.34m gave her the women’s hammer title and a new Olympic record. Cuba’s Yipsi Moreno, runner-up in Athens in 2004, again had to settle for the silver medal after a best effort of 75.20m, while China’s Zhang Wenxiu delighted another 90,000-strong crowd by claiming bronze with a throw of 74.32m.

In the women’s 200m, Athens silver medallist Allyson Felix won the second semi-final in 22.33 seconds, but Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown was the fastest qualifier for the final in 22.19.

Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele remained on target for the long-distance double after advancing to the final of the 5,000m. Bekele, who retained his 10,000m crown earlier in the week, finished third in his heat to reach Saturday’s final, coming in behind American Bernard Lagat who bounced back from his surprise failure to make the 1,500m final.

World record holder Dayron Robles continued his seemingly inexorable march towards the Olympic title in the 110m hurdles, winning his semi-final in 13.12. With China’s Liu Xiang pulling up injured before reaching the first hurdle in his heat on Monday, Cuban Robles is odds-on to win gold in today’s final. American David Oliver, who won the second semi, and team-mate David Payne look to be Robles’ nearest challengers.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan won their first Olympic medal when Rohullah Nikpai took bronze in the in the men’s -58kg taekwondo tournament. Mexican fighter Guillermo Perez claimed gold, defeating Yulis Gabriel Mercedes of the Dominican Republic.

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