US women win 5th straight gold, rout France 86-50
By DOUG FEINBERG, AP Basketball Writer
LONDON (AP) -- Candace Parker scored 21 points and the heavily favored U.S. women's basketball team won their fifth straight gold medal with an 86-50 victory over France on Saturday night.
The win was the latest in an unmatched run the Americans have been on over the past 16 years. The U.S. has now won 41 consecutive games in the Olympic competition since taking the bronze medal in 1992.
The Americans haven't just been winning, they've been blowing past opponents.
Only one team has come within single digits of them since the streak began in 1996. They've won by nearly 30 points a game. The U.S. has only lost once in major international competitions since the Atlanta Games -- the lone blemish coming against Russia in the semifinals of the 2006 world championship.
The names change on the U.S. uniform change but the results don't.
By ANNE M. PETERSON, AP Sports Writer
LONDON (AP) -- Destinee wasn't enough.
Brazil denied the United States its first Olympic gold medal in women's volleyball Saturday in a 3-1 upset that had the Brazilians turning somersaults on the court and some American players sobbing.
It was the first loss for the U.S. at the tournament and the second straight gold medal for Brazil. American star Destinee Hooker, the second-best scorer at the London Olympics, was held to 14 points.
Jaqueline Carvalho had 18 points to help Brazil overcome a disastrous first set and win 11-25, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17.
"We felt we lost control in the first set, but we never lost sight of our objectives, and that was to win gold," Carvalho said. "We knew the U.S. is a great team, that the game would be tough. But we managed to turn it around."
The Americans were favored and started their captain, Lindsey Berg, despite a left Achilles strain earlier in the competition. She had been listed as day-to-day but promised to play in the final.
The U.S. took an 11-4 lead on Hooker's ace. Brazilian coach Jose Roberto Guimaraes shouted at his players to calm down during a timeout, but two straight kills from Hooker and Foluke Akinradewo's block made it 19-7. Jordan Larson spiked for the set.
In the second set, Brazil bounced back to take an 11-6 lead Fernanda Rodrigues' kill, sparking a thunderous ovation from the fans at Earls Court. Logan Tom's spike tied it at 12, but Brazil scored six straight and took the set.
The Brazilians celebrated wildly after taking a 6-2 lead in the third. The United States narrowed it to 21-19 on Hooker's kill, but it was as close as they came, and Castro's kill won the set.
With momentum now on the side of the Brazilians, Claudino's kill gave them a 13-9 in the fourth. Thaisa Menezes extended it to 23-14 before Rodrigues' match-winning kill.
Castro and Claudino leapt into the official's chair, and Brazil's coaches rushed to pile on the other players. Later, the Brazilians danced into the medal ceremony.
Brazil became the third team to repeat as gold medalist. The Soviet Union won in 1968 and 1972, while Cuba won three straight starting with the 1992 Barcelona Games. Brazil also won bronze in 1996 and 2000.
"I'm proud of these girls. We worked really hard, we came into this final game undefeated. You can't get any better than that," Hooker said. "I think Brazil kicked it up a notch after the first set. A wonderful win for them."
It was the third silver for the U.S. women. The others were in 1984 and 2008.
The loss in London was a disappointing finish for U.S. coach Hugh McCutcheon and kept him from the distinction of steering both the American men's and women's teams to gold medals.
He came over to the women's side after leading the men on an undefeated run through the 2008 Beijing Olympics. On the day before the opening ceremony, McCutcheon's father-in-law was stabbed to death at a Chinese tourist attraction.
McCutcheon will coach the women's volleyball team at Minnesota starting this fall.
"Yeah, listen, they played better today," McCutcheon said. "I still believe that team is one of the best, if not the best in the world, and we weren't that today. That's what it comes down to. We train for four years, we come here for two weeks, and it comes down to two hours. I don't think we played poorly tonight, I think Brazil played really well."
The U.S. men, playing under coach Alan Knipe, were not as successful in London, losing in straight sets to Italy in the quarterfinals.
On the women's side, the bronze medal went to Japan, which defeated South Korea earlier Saturday.
Men's track and field
By HOWARD FENDRICH, AP Sports Writer
LONDON (AP) -- Usain Bolt pleaded with an official to let him keep the yellow baton he carried across the finish line while anchoring Jamaica to a world record in the Olympic 4x100-meter relay.
Bolt didn't get that souvenir. He'll have to be happy heading home with three gold medals for the second Summer Games in a row.
About even with the last U.S. runner when he got the stick, Bolt steadily pulled away over the last 100 meters, gritting his teeth and leaning at the line to cap his perfect 3-for-3 Olympics by leading Jamaica to the sprint relay title in 36.84 seconds Saturday night.
Bolt added that gold to the ones he earned in the 100 and 200.
The United States got the silver in 37.04, matching the old record that Bolt helped set at last year's world championships. Trinidad & Tobago took the bronze in 38.12 after Canada, which was third across the line, was disqualified for running outside its lane.
Women's track and field
LONDON (AP) -- Allyson Felix won her third gold medal of the London Olympics, giving the United States a 20-meter lead after the second leg of the 4x400-meter relay and then watching teammate Sanya Richards-Ross bring home the victory Saturday night.
DeeDee Trotter ran the opening leg for the United States and built a lead before handing to Felix, who more than doubled the advantage by the time she passed to Francena McCorory.
Richards-Ross had a stress-free anchor leg to add this gold medal to her 400-meter gold. Felix earlier won the 200 and 4x100 relay.
Men's soccerBy TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
WEMBLEY, England (AP) -- Oribe Peralta scored only 29 seconds into the Olympic final and added another goal in the second half to help Mexico upset Brazil 2-1 and win its first soccer gold Saturday.
Peralta took advantage of a mistake by the Brazilian defense in one of the game's first plays and shot a low right-footed shot into the net, scoring the fastest Olympic goal since FIFA began keeping records of the competition in 1976.
The striker added the second with a firm header off a free kick in the 75th.
Hulk scored for Brazil in injury time, but it was too late for a come back.
Brazil, the big favorite heading into the tournament, was also trying to win its first gold, which is the only soccer trophy the five-time world champions haven't won.
Women's mountain biking
By DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer
HADLEIGH, England (AP) -- Julie Bresset crested the final climb of Hadleigh Farm and glanced over her shoulder, and the only thing she saw was thousands of fans cheering her on.
The rest of the field was that far behind.
The 23-year-old mountain biker from France, competing at her first Olympics, smiled and soaked in the applause. She grabbed a French flag as she coasted toward the gold medal, crossing the finish line and then raising her bike triumphantly over her head.
Her entire season boiled down to one moment of unbridled joy.
"This season I decided to focus only on the Olympics, and it paid off," Bresset said. "The World Cup was not important this season. The only race that mattered was today's race, and I won it."
In the most dominating way.
Bresset took advantage of a mistake by defending gold medalist Sabine Spitz of Germany on a rough section of the picturesque course in the English countryside, then gradually pulled away from the rest of the field, rolling through the last of six laps all alone.
Her time was 1 hour, 30 minutes, 52 seconds, more than a minute ahead of Spitz, who took the silver medal.
"I took the front of the race and I managed it well," said Bresset, who crashed during a practice ride Thursday and needed seven stitches to close the cuts.
"When I had a gap, I told myself, 'Now I should go,'" she said. "I led until the finish."
Spitz rounded out her collection of medals -- along with gold in Beijing, she won bronze at the 2004 Athens Games. Georgia Gould of the United States earned bronze Saturday, the first medal for an American mountain biker since Susan DeMattai's bronze in 1996.
"I knew that a medal was possible. I knew that on my best day I was capable of winning the race," Gould said. "Julie rode a great race today. She was at the front at the start, which was smart."
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa of Norway, who won gold in Athens, was never in contention after puncturing a tire on a remote section of the course and hiking back to her support team.
Maja Wlosczowska of Poland, the silver medalist from Beijing, didn't start the race. She broke a bone in her foot during a training ride in Italy and was unable to compete.
Bresset's victory could be just the start for France. Julien Absalon will go for an unprecedented third straight gold medal in the men's race Sunday.
"I hope he will do the same. He's capable of it," Bresset said. "Sharing this result with him would be amazing. I hope my achievement can bring good luck to the French team."
The women's race went off under blue skies at Hadleigh Farm, where a 2.9-mile course was carved out of rolling hills and woodlands overlooking an estuary of the River Thames.
Britain's Annie Last took the initiative on the opening loop, generating a massive cheer from thousands of fans who packed into the natural amphitheater near the start-finish line.
Last remained in the lead when the riders headed onto the main course, which was changed from the Olympic test event to make it more demanding. Bresset eventually attacked on a flat section, and the under-23 world champion opened a small gap on the field as it finished Lap 1.
Last started to struggle with the pace, falling away by the second lap, and Canada's Catharine Pendrel -- one of the favorites -- soon joined her in trailing the leaders. Spitz and Gould began giving chase, and the three of them worked together to put nearly 30 seconds on the rest of the field.
Bresset's big break came when Spitz crashed in a technical section of the course called "the rock garden" that also slowed Gould and left Bresset alone at the front.
"When I went over my handlebar, I hurt my knee a bit," Spitz said. "That broke my rhythm for a short time. Thank God nothing was wrong with the bike so I could keep going."
Bresset took advantage of the delay behind her to build on the lead, blazing over the downhill sections of the course. Even though Spitz and Gould appeared stronger on the short, punchy climbs, the two of them struggled to reel in the strongest rider in the field.
Bresset's lead was so large on the final lap that she had plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, starting her celebration with the finishing banner -- and none of her competitors -- within sight.
"It was crucial to take a strong start and then to race cleverly, and not to dig deep in my limits," Bresset said. "I hoped to win a medal, and a gold medal is unbelievable."