05 AUG 2012 Report London, UK

Bolt's 100m defence in an Olympic record highlights another exciting night - London 2012 Day Three Report

Usain Bolt of Jamaica crosses the finish line ahead of Ryan Bailey of the United States and Justin Gatlin of the United States to win the Men's 100m Semifinal on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 5 August 2012 (Getty Images)Usain Bolt of Jamaica crosses the finish line ahead of Ryan Bailey of the United States and Justin Gatlin of the United States to win the Men's 100m Semifinal on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on 5 August 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
In the Athletics world, it doesn't get much bigger than the men's Olympic 100m final. And the event in London was bigger and better than ever.

The four fastest men in history all made it through to the final after a stunning series of semi-final races. Justin Gatlin won the first in 9.82 as former World record holder Asafa Powell finished just third and outside an automatic qualifying spot. Next up was Usain Bolt, who looked back to his best showboating form as he breezed through the finish in 9.87 seconds. Training partner Yohan Blake took the third semi-final win in 9.85. Seven of the eight qualifiers broke 10 seconds just to book their place in the final.

The scene was set for potentially the greatest 100m race of all-time. It did not disappoint.
Bolt did not get off to the best of starts, but it didn't take him long to get into his stride. Once he did, there was no beating him as he pulled away to win in 9.63, breaking his own Olympic record which when set in Beijing was a World record.

Blake took silver in 9.75, equalling his PB, as Gatlin took the bronze with a PB of 9.79, one hundredth ahead of US team-mate Tyson Gay.

Ryan Bailey clocked 9.88 in fifth from Churandy Martina (9.94) and Richard Thompson (9.98). Powell, meanwhile, pulled up in the closing stages.

With three men under 9.80 and seven under 10 seconds, it was all-round the fastest 100m race in history. More importantly for Bolt, though, he was back on top of the world as the undisputed sprint king. Or at least until the 200m final in a few days' time.

Gelana breaks Olympic marathon record on rainy day

A torrential downpour drenched the athletes as they lined up for the women's Marathon on The Mall in the centre of London this morning. It was anticipated to be a battle between Liliya Shobukhova and Mary Keitany – the second and third-fastest women of all time – but in an exciting race, neither came away with a medal.

Russian record-holder Shobukhova pulled up just after half way, clutching at her hamstring, although by this point she was already well behind the leaders.

After a first half of 73:13, it was in the last 13 Miles that the race came to life. The top three athletes from both Kenya (Keitany, Edna Kiplagat and Priscah Jeptoo) and Ethiopia (Tiki Gelana, Mare Dibaba and Aselefech Mergia) made a break. Mergia was the first to drop off the pack, while Tatyana Arkhipova, Shalane Flanagan and Jessica Augusto set out in pursuit of the leaders.

With an impressive surge, Arkhipova – 2007 World silver medallist in the 3000m Steeplechase – cruised past a fading Dibaba and joined the leaders. World champion Edna Kiplagat was the next to fall behind, leaving just four athletes out in front.

With just over two kilometres of running left, Keitany began to struggle. But Ethiopian record-holder Gelana, meanwhile, began a long push for home and moved away from Jeptoo and Arkhipova. She maintained her lead to the end, winning in an Olympic record of 2:23:07.

Jeptoo held on for silver with 2:23:12 as Arkhipova smashed her PB with 2:23:29 to take bronze. Keitany was almost 30 seconds behind in fourth. With four women under 2:24 and 10 under 2:26, it was the highest-quality women's marathon ever at the Olympics.

Gold at last for Richards-Ross and Pars

Sanya Richards-Ross, the most prolific sub-50 runner in history, would be the first to admit that she had unfinished business in the 400m after several disappointments over the years. But tonight she made up for her dramatic loss in Beijing four years ago by taking gold.

Sticking to her tried and tested tactic – a fast start, easy middle section and strong finish – Richards-Ross saved enough for the home straight to hold off a fast-finishing Christine Ohuruogu and take gold in 49.55. The defending champion, who was born and raised in the Stratford area of London where the Games are being held, once again exceeded expectations by producing a trademark strong finish.

Ohuruogu was sixth with 100m to go, but came through to take the silver medal with a season's best of 49.70, continuing her trend of running her best times at major championships. DeeDee Trotter had a remarkable return to form as she ran her fastest time for five years to take the bronze in 49.72.

World champion Amantle Montsho was run out of the medals in fourth, 49.75, as Novlene Williams-Mills was fifth in 50.11. World leader Antonina Krivoshapka went off hard and ultimately paid the price, finishing sixth in 50.17.

Before this year, Krisztian Pars had been steadily improving his results at major championships. Seventh at the 2005 Worlds, sixth at the 2006 Europeans, fifth at the 2007 Worlds, fourth at the 2008 Olympics, bronze at the 2010 Europeans and silver at the World Championships last year.

But 2012 is a golden year for the Hungarian hammer thrower, and he arrived in London as the newly-crowned European champion. He led from the outset in tonight's final, throwing 79.14m in the first round and improving to 80.59m in the third.

Defending champion Primoz Kozmus had barely competed all year, but produced his best marks of the season in London with 79.36m to take the silver. World champion Koji Murofushi – who, like Kozmus, had competed sparingly in 2012 – also saved his best for the Olympics and took the bronze medal with 78.71m, eight years after winning gold in Athens.

Kemboi and Rypakova make amends after Beijing disappointments

The 2008 Beijing Olympics is the only blemish on Ezekiel Kemboi's CV. In every other major championships he has contested, he has won either gold or silver, but in Beijing he was a distant seventh.

Today though, the champion from eight years ago regained his Olympic crown and did so in impressive fashion. After two steady opening kilometres of 2:52 and 2:51, the tension ramped up over the final few laps. Uganda's Benjamin Kiplagat took a tumble, followed one lap later by defending champion Brimin Kipruto.

But Kemboi was still clear of danger, so too was team-mate Abel Mutai and 2008 Olympic silver medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad. At the bell Kemboi shot into the lead and opened up a gap on the rest of the pack. Despite having to clear several barriers, he covered the final lap in 57 seconds as he drifted out into the outside lanes to take gold in 8:18.56.

Mekhissi-Benabbad repeated his position from Beijing by taking the silver, while Mutai grabbed the bronze, a quarter of a second ahead of Ethiopia's Roba Gari. Kemboi's victory extended Kenya's dominance of this event at the Olympics with their eighth straight title.

At the last Olympic Games Olga Rypakova smashed her PB by 42 centimetres to jump 15.11m, only to miss out on a medal by one place. Tonight in London, she jumped 13 centimetres less than in Beijing, but it was easily enough to win gold.

She had overcome two fouls in qualifying to make it into the final on her last attempt. But tonight she made no mistakes and took an early lead with 14.54m. Ukraine's Hanna Knyazyeva bettered it with 14.56m before Caterine Ibarguen jumped into the lead with 14.67m in round three, but Rypakova responded immediately with 14.98m. That remained the best mark of the competition, although she backed it up with 14.89m in round five.

World champion Olga Saladukha saved her best jump for the last round, sailing out to 14.79m. But Ibarguen followed with 14.80m to snatch back the silver, pushing the Ukrainian into the bronze medal position.

It was just the second ever athletics gold medal for Kazakhstan at the Olympics, following Olga Shishigina's 100m hurdles victory in Sydney 2000.

Finalists decided in 400m, 1500m and High Jump

For the first time ever at the Olympics – excluding the boycotted Games of 1980 – no American athletes qualified for the men's 400m final. Defending champion LaShawn Merritt exited in yesterday's heats, but he was followed in today's semi-finals by team-mates Tony McQuay and Bryshon Nellum, who finished fourth and third in their respective races to miss out on making the final.

Trinidad & Tobago's Lalonde Gordon was the surprise package of the round as he smashed his PB by almost half a second to win the first semi in 44.58. World champion Kirani James took the second (44.59) as fellow teenager Luguelin Santos won the third (44.78).

The men's 1500m looked as though Kenya would dominate, but instead two athletes from North African nations enjoyed runaway victories in the semi-finals.

Defending champion Asbel Kiprop had tried to dictate the pace in the first semi-final. But he was found wanting on the final lap as Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi effortlessly burst into the lead to win in 3:42.24. Kiprop and Mekonnen Gebremedhin also qualified.

It was a similar story in the second semi, although the pace was notably quicker. Nixon Chepseba led from the outset, but he was passed by Abdelaati Iguider in the closing stages to win in 3:33.99. Silas Kiplagat was a good few metres behind in second as Nick Willis and Chepseba also progressed.

2007 World champion Donald Thomas, 2010 European Champion Aleksandr Shustov and 2011 World bronze medallist Trevor Barry all missed out on making the High Jump final in today's qualifying round.

But medal favourites Ivan Ukhov, Jesse Williams and Robbie Grabarz all safely made it through, alongside defending champion Andrey Silnov.

There were fewer surprises in the women's 400m Hurdles heats. Olympic champion Melaine Walker, World Champion LaShinda Demus and world leader Natalya Antyukh – the latter posting the fastest time of the round with 53.90 – all qualified to the next round with relative ease. So too did Britain's Perri Shakes-Drayton, who lives within a mile of the Olympic Stadium.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF

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