Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 7, 2012
LONDON — First they told him to leave. Then they invited him back. Next they’ll give him the gold.
Kicked out of the London Olympics for presumably not trying hard enough in another event, Algeria’s Taoufik Makhloufi got a second chance after a doctor took his side.
Back at the track Tuesday, he cashed in on that opportunity and won the 1,500 meters in 3 minutes, 34.08 seconds, beating Leonel Manzano of the United States by 0.71 seconds. Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco got the bronze in 3:35.13.
“Yesterday I was out,” Makhloufi said. “And today I was in.”
If only it were that simple.
On Monday, the race referee in the 800 meters, Makhloufi’s other event, kicked him out of the Olympics for “failure to compete honestly with bona fide effort” after breaking slowly and pulling out of the race on the first lap.
He may have simply been conserving energy for Tuesday night’s 1,500 final — not unheard of in the world of track — but the Algerian coaches insisted Makhloufi pulled out of the 800 because of a left knee injury. When a doctor examined the runner and said the injury was legit, track officials revoked the DQ and allowed him to start in the 1,500.
Makhloufi will receive his gold medal in a ceremony tonight. His win was the latest twist at a games where the term “Olympic spirit” has certainly been put to the test.
• Before Makhloufi’s win, Sally Pearson won the 100-meter hurdles in the drizzle to serve up a rare dose of sunshine for Australia at these Olympics. Pearson finished in 12.35 seconds to edge defending champion Dawn Harper of the United States by .02 seconds and win just the fourth gold for the Aussies at an Olympics that has been downright dreary for them.
American Kellie Wells was third and Lolo Jones fourth, a tear-inducing result for the woman who spent four years waiting for a second chance for Olympic gold after clipping the next-to-last hurdle while leading in Beijing four years ago.
• Earlier, the women’s 200 semifinals went to form, with two-time defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and the woman she beat both times, American Allyson Felix, both making it to Wednesday’s final. Also there: 100-meter winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica and runner-up Carmelia Jeter and 400-meter champion Sanya Richards-Ross, both from the United States.
In the men’s 200, 100-meter champion Usain Bolt and runner-up Yohan Blake both cruised through the first round.
In their first Olympics, April Ross and Jennifer Kessy will play for the gold medal in an all-American beach volleyball final.
In their final Olympics together, Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor are playing for something more.
“We want to seal the deal that we’re the best team that’s ever happened,” Walsh Jennings said Tuesday night after they advanced to their third consecutive Olympic gold medal game with a 22-20, 22-20 victory over China. “Misty has changed my life. I just love her. I want to win tomorrow for us.”
A few hours later, Kessy and Ross beat the top-seeded Brazilians in a persistent rain to join their fellow Californians in Wednesday night’s final.
But China’s track superstar, Liu Xiang, barely made it out of the blocks in the 110 hurdles. Liu crashed into the first barrier and had to hop his way down the track, stopping to kiss a hurdle on the way out. The champion at the Athens Games in 2004 has failed to clear a single hurdle in the last two Olympics.
Diana Taurasi scored 15 points and the U.S. women’s team forced 26 turnovers in a 91-48 victory over Canada in the quarterfinals. The four-time defending gold medalists have won 39 straight games in Olympic play and will play Australia in the next round.
Britain ended Germany’s decades-long domination of team dressage by winning the gold at Greenwich Park, adding to its first team show jumping gold in 60 years, which it won a day earlier.
Ilya Zakharov of Russia scored 104.50 points on his last dive to win the 3-meter springboard, stopping China’s bid to sweep all eight diving events.
Troy Dumais of the U.S. finished fifth, his best showing in four Olympics.
Windsurfing made a spirited games exit, with Dorian Van Rijsselberge of the Netherlands collecting the men’s gold medal he had clinched days earlier and Marina Alabau of Spain winning the women’s regatta.
Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina won duet for Russia, which hasn’t lost an Olympic synchronized swimming event since the 1996 Atlanta Games.
It was a family affair on the podium for the men’s triathlon, with Alistair Brownlee taking the gold for Britain and younger brother Jonathan finishing third.
ELSEWHERE IN LONDON
China won the women’s team table tennis title with a 3-0 victory against Japan. China has won three gold medals in the sport at the London Games, along with two silvers. It could complete the gold sweep in the team events by winning the men’s final on Wednesday against South Korea. … Behdad Salimikordasiabi of Iran won the final gold medal of the weightlifting competition, lifting a total of 455 kilograms in the super heavyweight class. Defending Olympic champion Matthias Steiner of Germany dropped the barbell on his neck in his second lift and withdrew from the competition. … Greco-Roman wrestling golds went to Iran’s Ghasem Gholamreza Rezaei (96-kg) and South Korea’s Kim Hyeon-woo (66-kg). The U.S. failed to medal in any of the Greco-Roman events at the Olympics for the first time since 1976.