Galkina-Samitova Takes 2nd Record

APGulnara Galkina-Samitova
BEIJING -- Gulnara Galkina-Samitova set the second world record in as many days at the Olympic track, running the first sub-nine minute steeplechase in history to take the gold medal.

The Russian steadily stretched the field with her long, elegant stride until she was all alone and only had the clock to beat.

She did so, too, improving her own world record to 8 minutes, 58.81 seconds amid the cheers of the 91,000 fans at the Bird's Nest.

While Usain Bolt's 100 record came in the most-fabled event, Galkina-Samitova got hers in the Olympic debut of the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Eunice Jepkorir of Kenya took silver, almost nine seconds back, edging another Russian, Yekaterina Volkova, in a sprint finish.

The women's steeplechase made its debut at the world championships in 2005 and Russians have dominated the early years.

One day after Bolt overwhelmed American sprinters in the 100, the Jamaican women set up a similar showdown for Sunday's final.

Three Jamaicans and three U.S. sprinters reached the final, with Shelly-Ann Fraser leading the way in the semifinals in 11.00 seconds. U.S. runner Muna Lee was next at 11.06.

Kerron Stewart and Sherone Simpson joined the Jamaican lineup, while Lauryn Williams and Torri Edwards also went through for the Americans.

Defending champion Yuliya Nesterenko of Belarus failed to make it to the final, finishing fifth in the second semifinal, one place short of qualifying. European champion Kim Gevaert of Belgium was also eliminated.

After a 7 a.m. start, a 38-year-old mother, Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania, won the first gold of the day. She beat reigning world champion and pre-race favorite Catherine Ndereba of Kenya to win a marathon that started at Tiananmen Square.

The day was capped at the buzzing Bird's Nest, where two of the greatest African long-distance runners were to face off in the 10,000 meters -- Haile Gebrselassie against Ethiopian compatriot Kenenisa Bekele.