Walker puts Russia back in lead with Olympic gold

Olga Kaniskina walked Russia back into sole lead of the track gold medal standings Thursday in a driving rain that hampered even the best of Olympic athletes.
After a week of clear and warm conditions, a downpour over the Olympic Green cooled things down for the 20-kilometer walk and Kaniskina responded with an Olympic record.
It gave Russia its fifth gold medal of the track and field program, despite several pre-games anti-doping scandals which left several top contenders at home.
Russia has nine medals overall, nudging back in front of Jamaica, which has seven medals, including four gold _ Usain Bolt's 100- and 200-meter sprint double, the women's 100 and 400-meter hurdles.
The United States was in third place with only three gold but 14 medals overall, and will be counting on more later in Thursday's program.
Rain dominated the morning.
Kaniskina dealt with it best, leading from start to finish for the first gold of a busy day in 1 hour, 26 minutes, 31 seconds.
"It was better than a sunny and hot day," she said of the ideal walking temperature of 21 degrees C (70 degrees F). "I didn't feel it was very slippery."
The javelin throwers did, often losing their footing and, for some, slipsliding out of the games.
Even world champion Tero Pitkamaki was in trouble, hurting his right leg when his left ankle slipped from under him. Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen held back.
"When you see that you have to slow it down," Thorkildsen said. "When you go full speed and run, you can slip and get very injured."
Throwing was stopped again briefly when Sergei Makarov of Russia slipped and fell on the runway.
Officials used towels to mop up puddles of water on the runway between throws.
The wet weather also delayed the women's high jump qualifying for an hour and, with rain continuing, technical delegates decided the 15 women who cleared 1.93 meters would all advance to the final. Defending champion Yelena Slesarenko was one miss away from elimination before coming through.
Blanka Vlasic is looking for her 35th straight victory.
"It was tricky, a little hard to get the right distance on approach," Vlasic said.
The weather is supposed to clear for the evening session, when Jeremy Wariner goes against LaShawn Merritt in the 400, a U.S. duel which could well threaten another world record of Michael Johnson. Bolt beat Johnson's 200 mark late Wednesday.
IOC president Jacques Rogge may have loved the performance but not Bolt's celebrations.
"That's not the way we perceive being a champion," Rogge said. "He should show more respect for his competitors."
In the 110 hurdles, Dayron Robles is favored in the absence of China's 2004 Olympic champion Liu Xiang, who withdrew with injuries in the first round.
And in the women's 200, the Jamaicans will seek to shut out the Americans in the golden sprint duel they already lead 3-0.
Bryan Clay of the United States got off to a strong start to take an early lead in the Olympic decathlon.
The 2005 world champion ran 100 meters through a deluge for Thursday's best time, 10.44 seconds, then had the best long jump at 7.78 meters.
He followed with a lifetime best 16.27 in the shot put, second-best of the competition.
That gave Clay 2,862 points through three of 10 events in the two-day competition, 155 points ahead of his nearest challenger, Oleksiy Kasyanov of Ukraine, who had 2,717. Trey Hardee of the United States was third with 2,657 points.
World record-holder Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic, the reigning Olympic and world champion, struggled in the shot, normally one of his strongest events, and was 10th with 2,570 _ 292 points behind Clay.
World bronze medalist Dmitriy Karpov of Kazakhstan withdrew after one event. Tom Pappas of the United States, the 2003 world champion, also withdrew.
The high jump and 400 meters close out the first day of the 10-discipline event.

Updated : 2021-04-16 18:25 GMT+08:00