Redeem team win, Kenya marathon joy, China reach 51 golds

Society Materials 24 August 2008 16:48 (UTC +04:00)

Samuel Wanjiru won the first Olympic marathon title for Kenya on Sunday at the Beijing Olympics. ( dpa )

Elsewhere on the final day of competition China made it 51 gold medals and the US 'redeem team' beat Spain in the basketball final.

In the marathon Wanjiru shook off his rivals in the closing stages and used the final lap in the Bird's Nest as a lap of honour before claiming victory in a fast time of 2 hours 6 minutes 32 seconds.

Two-time world champion Jaouad Gharib of Morocco took the silver in 2:07:15 hours and Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia grabbed bronze in 2:10.00.

"This is history for Kenya. I am glad to have this one," said the 21-year-old Wanjiru, who finished second in the London Marathon earlier this year.

"I had to push the pace to tire the other runners and because my body gets tired when I slow down," said Wanjiru. "I tried to push with six kilometres left. It was hard but they couldn't keep up."

The winning time was fast, given the quickly rising temperatures on a sunny day in the 42.195-kilometre race from Tiananmen Square past several Beijing landmarks to the stadium.

China's half-century of golds was marked-up by Zou Shiming who won the boxing light flyweight division when his Mongolian opponent Serdamba Purevdorj retired injured just nine seconds into the second round.

Zhang Xiaoping then beat Ireland's Kenny Egan in the light heavyweight category to give China a final total of 51 golds.

Lightweight Alexei Tishchenko won gold for Russia beating Daouda Sow of France. That and Russia's group all-around gold in rhythmic gymnastics helped them take third place in the gold race behind Xhina and second-placed US.

The Americans enjoyed a successful final day with the so-called Redeem Team keeping their promise to the US public and delivering gold after only managing bronze four years ago in Athens.

Inspired by Dwyane Wade whose 27 points was the highest individual points score in any one match of the Games, they beat Spain 118-107. Argentina beat Lithuania 87-75 for the bronze.

The US were also triumphant in volleyball with their men's team beating defending champions Brazil to win their first gold medal in the event since 1988.

Hungary made it three in a row in water polo as they beat the US 14- 10 in the gold medal match at the Yingdong Natatorium.

The 2000 and 2004 champions proved much too strong for the Americans, who were chasing only their second-ever Olympic water polo title.

And in the final event of the 2008 Games France beat Iceland 28-23 to win the men's handball competition.

It was the first Olympic medal for the French team since they won bronze in Barcelona in 1992.

The silver for Iceland was the Nordic country's best ever placing in Olympic handball competition. Bronze went to Spain, who defeated Croatia.

The Games ended later Sunday with a three-hour closing ceremony that organizers promised would be a "great, glittering party" for the record 11,249 athletes from 199 countries.

Hours before the ceremony International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge praised China for organizing an impressive Games in which US swimmer Michael Phelps and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt stood out.