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U.S. softball stunned as Japan snatches gold

Beijing Olympics Softballl
Members of the USA team sport dejected faces after losing to Japan in the gold medal softball game Thursday. Amy Sancetta / AP
/ Source: news services

The U.S. Olympic softball team was denied a fourth straight gold medal, losing 3-1 on Thursday to Japan in the sport's final appearance in the games for at least eight years.

The Americans had their 22-game Olympic winning streak snapped as Japan pitcher Yukiko Ueno handed them their first loss since Sept. 21, 2000 at Sydney.

Ueno pitched seven innings, one day after she pitched 21 to get the Japanese into the gold-medal game.

The IOC voted softball off the 2012 program in London and the sport is hoping to be reinstated next year in time for the 2016 games. On Wednesday, Australia won the bronze after it was beaten by Japan.

The United States women won the gold medal for the third time in four Olympics, beating Brazil 1-0 in overtime Thursday.

Carli Lloyd scored in the sixth minute of extra time for the Americans, who beat the Brazilians for a second straight Olympic final. Amy Rodriguez held off two Brazilians and put the ball up for Lloyd who left-footed it from a yard outside the area. Barbara dived, but the ball scooted past her and settled in the far bottom corner of the net.

Marta gave Brazil a chance in the 102nd minute, but she was tackled by Heather Mitts. Marta got the ball back, but was blocked first by Kate Markgraf and then by Christie Rampone.

Earlier, world champion Germany defeated Japan 2-0 in the bronze medal game.

Women's basketball
Diana Taurasi had 21 points and the U.S. women's basketball team beat Russia 67-52 Thursday to advance to their fourth straight Olympic gold medal game.

The Americans will face either Australia or China on Saturday as they try to win a fourth straight gold.

The U.S. had been averaging 99.2 points as they cruised through the first six games, winning by 43 points a contest. However the Americans hadn't played a team as good as Russia, which had been inconsistent during the Olympics barely winning games in pool play.

The Russians gave the Americans their closest game of the Olympics.

Track and field
4 by 100 relays:
The men's and women's 4x100m relay teams both dropped batons between the third and fourth legs Thursday evening and neither advanced to the Friday finals.

The men did not finish. Williams retrieved the baton and crossed the finish line last, 4 seconds after the seventh-place team from Italy. (Men's results | Women's results)

"We practiced a few days ago," Gay said afterward. "It was on point; we were really sharp. I don't know what happened tonight."

Men's 400: American LaShawn Merritt dethroned teammate, rival and defending Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner Thursday night in the men's 400m.

Merritt took gold with a personal-best time of 43.75 seconds. Wariner, the silver medalist, was nearly a second back at 44.74.

David Neville dove across the finish line to complete a U.S. sweep. (Full results)

"I felt good in the semis," Wariner said. "My final wasn't that good of a race. I don't know what's happening right now"

Bolt criticized by IOC chief: Usain Bolt may have tied Carl Lewis when he won the 100m and 200m in record-breaking fashion Wednesday, but his actions after the race were not so well received. Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee criticized the Jamaican sprinter on Thursday for showing a lack of respect to competitors after the races.

The IOC chief hailed Bolt’s stunning achievements in the two sprints, comparing him to American great Jesse Owens, but said Bolt should have cut out the look-at-me flaunting and acknowledged the other athletes.

Bolt, who turned 22 on Thursday, stormed to another one-sided victory Wednesday night in the 200, breaking Michael Johnson’s 12-year-old record of 19.32 seconds and lowering the mark to 19.30.

Bolt made little effort to congratulate the other runners as he wrapped himself in a Jamaican flag and set off on a solo victory lap. Swaying to the reggae music on the stadium loudspeakers, he walked barefoot around the track, putting his face inches from a TV camera, raising an index finger and yelling, “I am No. 1! I am No. 1!”

“He still has to mature,” Rogge said. “I would love him to show more respect for his competitors. That’s not the way we perceive being a champion. But he will learn in time. He should shake hands with his competitors and not ignore them. He’ll learn that sooner or later. But (he’s) a great athlete, of course.”

Women's 200: Veronica Campbell-Brown won the gold medal in the women’s 200 meters, extending Jamaica’s streak in the sprints at the Beijing Olympics.

Campbell-Brown won Thursday night’s final in 21.74 seconds, holding off 2007 world champion Allyson Felix of the United States, who took silver in 21.93. Jamaica’s Kerron Stewart was third in 22.00, adding to her silver in the 100.

With Bolt’s gold medals and world records in the 100 and 200 and Shelly-Ann Fraser’s win in the women’s 100, Jamaica has now won all four sprint finals at Beijing.

Beach volleyball
The Chinese and the wretched Beijing weather were no match for Misty May-Treanor and “Six Feet of Sunshine.”

May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh won their second consecutive gold medal in beach volleyball Thursday, playing through a steady and sometimes driving rain to beat China in straight sets and extend their winning streak to 108 matches in a row.

“Ever since the ball dropped in Athens, we’ve wanted to repeat as Olympic champions,” May-Treanor said. “No one’s ever done it.”

No one’s ever won 14 consecutive Olympic matches before, either, sweeping away their opponents in both Beijing and Athens without losing a single set. The Americans beat Wang Jie and Tian Jia 21-18, 21-18 on Thursday, playing through smog and swelter and a drenching gold medal game to confirm their dominance of the sport.

On the court, the U.S. women’s volleyball team advanced to the gold medal game after defeating Cuba in three straight sets. Cuba, a three-time Olympic gold medal winner, was unbeaten prior to the match. The U.S. will play either Brazil or China in the final.

Water Polo
The Netherlands won the gold medal in women’s water polo, stunning the United States 9-8 behind seven goals by Danielle de Bruijn. She scored the winner with 26 seconds remaining.

The Americans came to Beijing ranked No. 1, and on Thursday night looked as if they might get the gold that eluded them in Sydney and Athens.

They had several chances to tie it up in the waning seconds, but Elsie Windes missed an outside shot and Brenda Villa couldn’t put home the rebound.

De Bruijn scored the first two goals of the game and the Dutch jumped ahead 4-0. She added two more right after halftime to give her country a 7-5 lead. She also scored the last two on power plays.

The men’s and women’s Olympic BMX semifinals and medal races were rained out Thursday, giving American racer Kyle Bennett — the three-time world champion from Conroe, Texas, who dislocated his left shoulder in a nasty crash during a quarterfinal heat — an additional 24 hours to recover before racing again.

Rain began falling at the Laoshan cycling complex overnight, and when heavy squalls persisted during the morning, event officials decided to push the entire card back to Friday.

The course was covered by several tarps. Some teams had already arrived when the decision to postpone was announced; others, including the U.S., were on their way to the venue when racing was canceled, “in consideration of the fairness of the competition,” said a statement from the event organizers at the track.

The Associated Press and contributed to this report.