Wednesday roundup: Light lightning, Bolt streaks to second world record in sprints

August 20, 2008

BEIJING (AP) -- Move over, Michael. Make way for Usain.

The Beijing Olympics will no longer be remembered only for what Michael Phelps did in the pool. Usain Bolt made sure of it on the track Wednesday night.

Already the champion at 100 meters, Bolt whizzed through the 200, too, making him the first winner of both Olympic sprints since Carl Lewis in 1984.

Yet Bolt one-upped Lewis, Jesse Owens and the other guys who've pulled off the 100-200 double. The long, lanky, joyous Jamaican also set a world record in both races, and that's never been done at an Olympics.


"I blew my mind," said Bolt, "and I blew the world's mind."

So now it's time for a new debate, sports fans. Which is more impressive: Phelps' eight gold medals and seven world records or Bolt leaving no doubt that he's the fastest man in the world, the fastest man ever?

Bolt's victory made memorable a day that was supposed to be a bit of a lull before the big finish this weekend. Only 11 medals were decided, fewest since the first day of competition.

There was other notable news, though, like the U.S. softball and men's basketball teams getting tested before moving closer to playing for gold. There also was the first-ever medal of any color at any Olympics for Afghanistan (a bronze in men's taekwondo), the debut of BMX cycling and another doping case, this one involving a medal winner.

The International Olympic Committee said it is investigating Ukraine's Lyudmila Blonska. If found guilty of a doping offense, the 30-year-old Blonska would lose her silver medal in heptathlon and be expelled from the games.

Another piece of news is that these Summer Games are on pace to be the most-watched in history, a figure skewed by how many of China's 1.3 billion residents were tuned in.

Then again, Phelps -- and now Bolt -- are making for must-see TV.

The United States still leads the medal count, up only 82-79 over China. The hosts bumped their gold count to 45, with a first-ever sailing victory joining the list.

China already has won more golds than the United States won when it hosted the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and has tied the number won by the Soviet Union in 1992. The Soviets won 55 in 1988, which is now within range for the Chinese, especially with 86 more golds to be decided through Sunday.

Track and field

Bolt needed only 19.30 seconds to go from start to finish and he made sure not to waste any time showboating.

Pushing with all he had in his favorite event, Bolt broke Michael Johnson's mark that had stood since Atlanta by a mere 0.02, but his margin of victory -- 0.66 -- was the biggest ever in the Olympic 200.

Bolt is the ninth man to sweep the 100-200. But Bolt is likely more excited about being the first man to own the 100 and 200 world records since fellow Jamaican Donald Currie did it in the 1970s.

One more number of note: 22, Bolt's age as of Thursday. During his victory lap, a version of "Happy Birthday" played over the loudspeakers inside the Bird's Nest as Bolt took off his gold shoes and wrapped the Jamaican flag around his shoulders like a scarf.

While most eyes were on Bolt, judges saw that the second- and third-place finishers -- including American Wallace Spearmon -- went outside their lanes. They were disqualified, bumping Americans Shawn Crawford and Walter Dix up to silver and bronze.

Also at the Bird's Nest on Wednesday:

o The Jamaican flag also waved proudly for Melaine Walker, who won the women's 400-meter hurdles. American Sheena Tosta got silver.

o Aksana Miankova of Belarus set an Olympic record in winning the women's hammer throw.

o Bernard Lagat advanced to the 5,000-meter final, moving on the Saturday night's medal race.

o Three Jamaicans and three Americans were among those advancing to the women's 200 finals, which will be Thursday night.

Men's basketball

This is what goes down as a "tough test" for the U.S. squad of NBA All-Stars: A five-point lead in the second quarter that turned to 12 by halftime ... and was never close again.

"Sooner or later we'll impose our will," U.S. point guard Chris Paul said. "I don't know if you can keep up with us for 40 minutes."

Australia sure couldn't. After a tight game into the fourth quarter on Aug. 5, the Aussies hung with the American until the middle of the second quarter but that was it. Kobe Bryant scored nine points during a 14-0 surge to open the second half and the only question after that was how much they would win by. It wound up being 31 points, 116-85.

Next up will be Manu Ginobili and defending champion Argentina on Friday night, with a spot in the gold-medal game going to the winner. The Argentines beat Greece 80-78, with the Greeks missing a potential winning 3-pointer in the final few seconds.

The Americans sure seem locked in toward their first gold medal in a major international competition since the 2000 Sydney Games.

China's run before its adoring home fans ended with a 72-59 loss to Lithuania.

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