End of an era

Bahamas’ Demetrius Pinder, Michael Mathieu, Ramon Miller and Chris Brown pose after winning gold.

Ramon Miller of the Bahamas chased down Angelo Taylor of the United States in the men’s 4×400-metres final today to win his country’s first gold medal in a relay event that had been won by America at every Olympics since 1984.

Miller lifted the Bahamas to a time of 2:56.72, .33 seconds better than the U.S. Trinidad and Tobago took third. The rest of the Bahamian history-making team were Demetrius Pinder, Michael Mathieu and Chris Brown.

The South African team, anchored by double amputee “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius, fell behind well before Pistorius received the baton and finished last.

Taylor, a 400-metres hurdler, was thrust into the lineup after a flurry of injuries hit the Americans. Lashawn Merritt and Jeremy Wariner both pulled out before the preliminaries, where Manteo Mitchell ran the last 200 metres of the opening lap with a broken left fibula.

In other Olympic news today, two athletes who were at the Games after serving drug bans returned to the top of the winners’ podium

Asli Cakir Alptekin led a Turkish 1-2 when she held off Gamze Bulut to win the women’s Olympic 1,500 metres gold after delivering a powerful final lap in a tactical, bunched race

Alptekin, who won the European title in Helsinki two months ago, served a two-year ban for doping after testing positive in 2004. She looked powerful and strong today, coming home in four minutes, 10.23 with Bulut second in 4:10.40.

Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain was third and American Morgan Uceny, who fell in the 2011 world championship final, tumbled again and beat the track in tearful frustration.

Russia’s Tatyana Lysenko, who watched the 2008 Olympics on television while serving a two-year doping ban, won the women’s hammer gold with an Olympic record throw of 78.18 metres.

Lysenko, who won the world championship title last year, beat the old Olympic record of 76.34 set by Askana Miankova in Beijing with her first throw of the night, 77.56m, then improved it with her fifth.

Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland took silver with 77.60 and German world record-holder Betty Heidler claimed a controversial bronze with 77.13 after having her fifth throw re-measured.

China’s Zhang Wenxiu, who got bronze in Beijing, thought she had finished third again but was then relegated to fourth. Chinese officials were unhappy with the decision and have launched an appeal.

Jordan Burroughs won the first wrestling gold for the United States, earning a $250,000 bonus from USA officials and vindicating his characteristically confident choice of Twitter name, “All I See Is Gold”.

The world champion with a soft spot for fast food, hip hop and tattoos overpowered Iran’s Sadegh Goudarzi in the final of the 74kg (162lb) freestyle.

The final brought together two countries that are old foes on the wrestling mat and on the world stage.

Their leaders are locked in a charged standoff over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

But politics were put to one side during a close-fought bout that eased pressure on a U.S. wrestling team that had previously won only a single bronze at the Games.

France’s European champion Renaud Lavillenie produced an Olympic record jump of 5.97 metres to win gold in the men’s pole vault, with silver and bronze going to Germany.Both Germany’s Bjorn Otto, 34, and his 22-year-old compatriot Raphael Holzdeppe cleared 5.91m, but Holzdeppe had more missed attempts which meant Otto took silver.

Britain’s Steve Lewis was fifth with an impressive 5.75m, while Australia’s defending champion Steve Hooker crashed out early after three failed jumps.

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