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Image: Matt Slocum/AP/Press Association Images

Speed kings... and queens: Jamaica target another medal haul

The Caribbean island’s fastest men and women will be in action in their respective 4×100 metre events tonight
Aug 10th 2012, 10:05 AM 541 0

JAMAICA’S SPRINT KINGS will enter the home stretch of their golden Olympic campaign today after Usain Bolt’s historic defence of his 100m and 200m crowns.

A day after Bolt sprinted into the pantheon of Olympic legends by becoming the first man to win back-to-back 100m and 200m titles at consecutive Games, Jamaica’s men return to the track for the 4×100 relay.

Bolt, who led a Jamaican 1-2-3 in Thursday’s 200m final, may be rested for the opening round of the relay, although the Caribbean islanders should qualify for the final with ease given their awesome strength in depth.

Jamaica are bidding to retain the relay crown which they won in Beijing, and only a disaster is likely to deny Bolt the sixth gold medal of his career as the Olympics head into their final weekend.

Jamaica’s women’s 4x100m relay squad meanwhile are also determined to atone for their disastrous performance in the 2008 final, where a bungled changeover almost certainly cost them a gold medal.

The Jamaican quartet — anchored by 100m winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce — qualified fourth fastest for the final, where they will battle powerful teams from the United States and Russia.

In other athletics action tonight, the United States one-lap specialists will aim to extend their astounding record in the 4x400m relay, where they remain unbeaten on the track since 1984.

Other medals to be decided in the Olympic Stadium on Friday include the women’s 5,000m final, where Ethiopian distance legend Tirunesh Dibaba seeks to defend her crown, and the men’s pole-vault, where reigning champion Steve Hooker of Australia is favourite.

“It’s going to be a cracking final,” said Hooker. “Everybody is in it to win it. There’s still a bit to do, but I’m here to see what happens. My training has been good, my body feels fantastic.”

In men’s basketball, the United States and Russia could set up a dream final of the former Cold War rivals with semi-final wins over Argentina and Spain respectively.

The USA’s ‘Dream Team’ of NBA superstars remain overwhelming favourites to retain their title in Sunday’s final, but Carmelo Anthony has warned against complacency against the Argentines.

“We’ve got to be in full throttle from the start against Argentina,” Anthony said.

Women’s hockey sees Argentina take on the Netherlands in the gold medal match on a day when 17 medals will be decided.

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USA’s Allyson Felix gets acquainted with her 200m gold. Matt Slocum/AP/Press Association Images

Meanwhile, the Games was hit by another drugs test failure when French 5,000m runner Hassan Hirt was reported to have tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO.

A source told AFP that Hirt, who was eliminated in the heats of the event, failed a drugs test on August 3 and had been suspended.

- © AFP, 2012

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