Gatlin surprises field in 100 dash



ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Justin Gatlin shoveled the snow off his track in North Carolina, braving the cold to keep practicing, keep working, keep chasing Olympic gold.
He finally caught it Sunday night, outrunning the fastest field in Olympic history to become the youngest 100-meter champion in 36 years.
Gatlin ran a personal best 9.85 seconds, barely holding off Portugal's Francis Obikwelu, defending gold medalist Maurice Greene, outspoken teammate Shawn Crawford and Jamaica's Asafa Powell.
Another first
It was the first time in Olympic history that five men broke 10 seconds in a race. Four did it at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Obikwelu finished in 9.86 for silver. Greene took bronze in 9.87 and Crawford was fourth in 9.89.
"I said it was going to be the most exciting race in the world, and it was," said Gatlin, a 22-year-old Brooklyn, N.Y. native who now lives in Raleigh, N.C. "This is what I train for, that's why I shoveled the snow off North Carolina tracks. That's why I'm here. I'm here to win the gold medal."
Stripped of medal
Russia's Irina Korzhanenko was stripped of her shot put gold medal Monday, the first athlete of the Athens Games to lose an Olympic title because of doping.
Korzhanenko, 30, the first woman to win a gold medal at the sacred site of Ancient Olympia, tested positive for the steroid stanozolol after Wednesday's competition. The backup B sample confirmed the initial finding.
The International Olympic Committee executive board expelled Korzhanenko from the games and ordered the Russian Olympic Committee to return the medal.
The gold goes to Cuba's Yumileidi Cumba Jay. Germany's Nadine Kleinert moved up to silver, and Russia's Svetlana Krivelyova to bronze.
In the days preceding the race, Gatlin listened quietly while Greene, Crawford and Powell proclaimed themselves the front-runners. When Crawford said the only person who could beat him was himself, Gatlin responded, "Beat yourself up!"
Sure enough, Crawford got off to a bad start and never was a factor. With no clear leader as the race drew to a close, Gatlin took control near the very end, shedding a few tears after he crossed the finish line, then dropping to his knees and clasping his hands in prayer.
Crawford, his training partner, gave him a big hug and screamed, "Do you know what you just did?"
"That race on his part was almost flawless," Crawford said. "That was the race of his life. I'm just glad I was part of the field that helped push him to that. I know he's going to carry that title, Olympic gold medalist in the 100, with honor and dignity."
Youngest since 1968
Gatlin, who won six NCAA titles in his two seasons at Tennessee, is the youngest winner since Jim Hines at the 1968 Mexico City Games. Gatlin turned 22 on February 10; Hines had just turned 22 when he won.
Meanwhile, 37-year-old Gail Devers had her dreams of winning a medal in the 100 hurdles shattered earlier in the day, when she failed to clear the first hurdle because of a strained left calf. One of the greatest hurdlers of all time, Devers has gold medals in the 100 and 400 relay, but nothing from her signature event.
Also Sunday, Sweden led all nations with three gold medals after Stefan Holm won the high jump and Christian Olsson took the triple jump.
Kastor gets third
Mizuki Noguchi of Japan won the women's marathon over the ancient course that gave the race its name. Deena Kastor was third, giving the United States its first marathon medal since Joan Benoit's gold in Los Angeles 20 years ago.
Adrian Annus of Hungary won the gold medal in the hammer throw. Greece's Fani Halkia thrilled the home crowd by setting an Olympic record of 52.77 seconds in her 400-meter hurdles semifinal.

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