Saturday, August 23, 2008

Olympics: Messi to the fore in late gold rush at Olympics

BEIJING (AFP) — The Olympic Games enters its penultimate day Saturday with a 32-final gold rush including the men's football decider between Lionel Messi's Argentina and Nigeria.

On the track, Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele runs to become the first man in 28 years to win the elusive long-distance running double, and the first day of boxing finals starts for the first time without a US fighter.

The Olympics have gone largely according to plan for China, as they wrested the title of the world sports power from an under-performing United States.

China have 47 gold medals and 89 in total, ahead of the United States (31-102), Great Britain (18-44) and Russia (17-57). There are 44 gold medals to be won on the last two days.

There have been few drugs scandals, few protesters and the usually ever-present thick smog eased noticeably as the Games progressed.

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