Beijing Olympics Athletics Mens 4x400M Relay
Petr David Josek  /  AP
United States' LaShawn Merritt, Angelo Taylor, David Neville and Jeremy Wariner, from left, show their gold medals after winning in the final of the men's 4x400-meter relay during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008.
msnbc.com news services
updated 8/23/2008 3:35:57 AM ET 2008-08-23T07:35:57
DAY 15 HIGHLIGHTS

Sanya Richards took the baton for the final lap of the 1,600-meter relay with the U.S. in second place. Through three turns, Richards remained several strides behind Russia.

Then she made her move.

Richards steamed through the fourth and final turn and caught the front-runner down the stretch. The Russian looked at the stadium monitor to see Richards closing on her but was unable to do anything about it. Before crossing the finish line, Richards threw a celebratory punch and screamed “Yes!”

It didn’t make up for a different set of U.S. women dropping the baton in qualifying for the sprint relay, but it did keep alive a streak of going home with at least one relay gold at every Olympics since 1984.

There was far less drama in the men’s version — which was to be expected considering the U.S. went 1-2-3 in the 400. With those guys on board, the Americans won in an Olympic-record time. The U.S. has now won that race at seven straight Olympics.

The relay golds were Nos. 32 and 33 for the United States, with the women’s basketball playing for more Saturday night. The women’s volleyball team had a shot at gold, too, but lost to Brazil.

The U.S. medal count jumped to 106, exceeding the 102 earned in Athens and closing in on the record for an Olympics not held in the United States. Up next are the 107 won in Mexico City in 1968 and the 108 at Barcelona in 1992.

China remains second in total medals with 96 and first in golds with 49. The Chinese wrapped up a sweep of every table tennis medal, but were thwarted in their bid to take all eight diving golds when Australia’s Matthew Mitcham won the men’s 10-meter platform.

The next-to-last day of the Beijing Games was a scorcher, with on-field temperatures at the men’s soccer final topping 107, prompting a rare delay for water — then another. Several canoe paddlers also needed treatment after their races, although not the guys who capsized at the finish.

A synchronized swimmer collapsed and needed treatment, too, although she couldn’t blame it on the weather because her event was indoors. Ditto for a hot-headed Cuban taekwondo competitor and his coach who were banned for life after the athlete was disqualified from a bronze-medal match, then kicked the referee in the face.

Doping crept up again, with Ukrainian weightlifter Igor Razoronov becoming the sixth athlete — and second from his country — caught during the games. He finished sixth in the 105-kilogram (231.5 pounds) division Monday. He was kicked out of the Olympics and faces a two-year ban from the sport.

Razoronov is the only weightlifter who has tested positive in Beijing. Eleven Greek weightlifters and 12 Bulgarian lifters failed drug tests ahead of the Beijing Games.

The IOC has carried out more than 4,600 doping tests, with the figure expected to surpass 5,000 by the close of the games Sunday night.

Baseball
It came down to the bottom of the ninth, with Cuba facing a one-run deficit. The bases were loaded with one out.

The pitch, the swing ... double play. Game over. Gold medal for South Korea, finishing the tournament unbeaten with a 3-2 victory in the final Olympic baseball game until at least 2016.

If indeed baseball never returns to the Olympic agenda, at least the United States can say it went out a winner.

Behind home runs by Matt LaPorta, Matt Brown and Jason Donald, the Americans beat Japan 8-4 to claim the bronze medal. LaPorta returned after missing a few days following a concussion sustained when a pitch hit him in the head. Jayson Nix had a hit and scored a run in his first game back since a week ago Friday, when he fouled a ball off his left eye and underwent microsurgery.

IOC president Jacques Rogge sat behind home plate for part of the U.S-Japan game with International Baseball Federation president Harvey Schiller. The IBAF is campaigning to get baseball back on the Olympic program in 2016 after being voted off for 2012. Baseball became a medal sport in 1992. The U.S. got bronze in 1996 and gold in 2000.

Women’s basketball
Lisa Leslie scores 14 points to cap off her illustrious Olympic career with a fourth straight gold medal and the U.S. women’s basketball team beats Australia 92-65 on Saturday night.

Leslie joined former teammate Teresa Edwards as the only basketball players ever to win four gold medals.

The Aussies have now lost to the Americans in the gold medal game in the past three Olympics with all three defeats coming by double-digit margins.

Russia took the bronze medal beating host China 94-81 as Becky Hammon scored 22 points.

Track and field
Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele won the 5,000 meters in an Olympic-record time, completing a distance double. World champion Bernard Lagat of the United States finished ninth.

A three-time world champion at 10,000, Bekele just missed a double at the Athens 2004 Olympics when he got the 10,000 gold and finished second to Moroccan great Hicham El Guerrouj in the 5,000.

It was the second double here for Ethiopia after Tirunesh Dibaba won an unprecedented women’s 5,000-10,000 combination.

Kenya got a double of sorts, with Wilfred Bungei taking the men’s 800 meters and Nancy Jebet Langat winning the women’s 1,500.

Also, Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway defended his javelin title with an Olympic-record throw, and Belgium’s Tia Hellebaut won the women’s high jump.

Volleyball
Brazil has won its first gold medal in women’s volleyball, ending the United States’ dramatic run.

Brazil defeated the Americans three sets to one, to complete the Olympic tournament undefeated. The final match went 25-18, 18-25, 25-13, 25-21.

The Olympics started on a tragic note for the U.S. team when the father of a former teammate was fatally stabbed at a popular tourist site hours after the opening ceremony.

The competition was also marked by the return of U.S. coach Jenny Lang Ping to her hometown. Lang led the Chinese team to the gold medal in the 1984 Los Angeles Games with a final-match victory over the United States.

Taekwondo
Cuba’s Angel Matos was winning 3-2, with 1:02 in the second round, when he fell to the mat after being hit by his opponent, Kazakhstan’s Arman Chilmanov. He was sitting there, awaiting medical attention, when he was disqualified for exceeding the one minute he’s allowed.

Matos angrily questioned the call, pushed a judge, then pushed and kicked referee Chakir Chelbat of Sweden. Matos then spat on the floor and was escorted out.

“He was too strict,” said his coach, Leudis Gonzalez, referring to the decision to disqualify Matos. Afterward, he charged the match was fixed, accusing the Kazakhs of offering him money.

Then came this release from the World Taekwondo Federation: “Lifetime ban of the coach and athlete in all championships sanctioned by the (federation) and at the same time, all records of this athlete at the Beijing Games will immediately be erased.”

Earlier, a women’s match was overturned, the first time that’s happened since taekwondo became an official Olympic sport in 1990.

South Korea’s Cha Dong-min won the men’s over 80-kilogram class, bringing the fourth gold to his country in its native sport. Mexico’s Maria del Rosario Espinoza, the 2007 world champion, won the women’s over 67-kilogram class.

Men’s soccer
In temperatures that topped 107 degrees, Angel di Maria scored off a pass from Lionel Messi in the 58th minute, helping Argentina defeat Nigeria 1-0 and win its second straight Olympic soccer title.

“This group deserved this,” Messi said. “We knew coming in that we may never have this experience again, so we are lucky that everything went well and we got what we wanted.”

Di Maria’s strike was a goal to lift a game in which play obviously was affected by the searing temperatures. The referee took the rare step of twice allowing players to stop and take drinks.

The game was the only one to be played in Beijing’s main Olympic stadium, and it was watched by a crowd of 89,102 that included former Argentina great Diego Maradona.

Nigeria added silver to the gold it won in 1996.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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