POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Aug 08, 2012
LONDON » Sally Pearson stood in the rain, hands on her head, eyes fixed on the big screen, desperately willing her name to show up first so she wouldn't be another Olympic letdown for Australia.
For what seemed longer than the 100-meter hurdles took to race, she waited and wondered if Dawn Harper had snuck up and beat her to an Olympic gold medal again.
The front-runner for the last two seasons, Pearson got out of the blocks quickly and had a lead until Harper lunged at the finish line.
"I didn't realize how close Dawn was until the end," she said. "I said in my head, 'Please don't let this happen. I need this.' "
When her name flashed up first, Pearson knew she was No. 1 in an Olympic-record 12.35 seconds, narrowly in front of three Americans: 2008 gold medalist Harper; Kellie Wells, who had beaten the Australian in the last race coming into London; and Lolo Jones, who missed out on an Olympic medal again.
"Relief was the first thing I felt, and then shock," Pearson said. "I really wanted this. I've worked so hard. To be able to finally have that result beside my name is just the best thing in the world."
Earlier, the women's 200 semifinals went to form, with two-time defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and the woman she beat both times, American Allyson Felix, both making it to Wednesday's final. Also there: 100-meter winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica and runner-up Carmelia Jeter and 400-meter champion Sanya Richards-Ross, both from the United States.
In the men's 200, 100-meter champion Usain Bolt and runner-up Yohan Blake both cruised through the first round.
The last American boxer in the men's tournament was eliminated, giving the U.S. team its first Olympic medal shutout.
Welterweight Errol Spence dropped a 16-11 decision to Russia's Andrey Zamkovoy in the quarterfinals. The Dallas-area fighter started slowly and never got going in his team's ninth loss in 10 fights.
Chris Hoy gave the boisterous crowd one last memory.
Hoy broke the British record with his sixth Olympic gold medal, defending his keirin title to finish off a dominating performance by the home nation.
"Because this is the end, the last Olympics I'm doing, the last Olympic medal I can win, the nature of the whole event," Hoy said, "this one was probably the best."
Diana Taurasi scored 15 points and the U.S. women's team forced 26 turnovers in a 91-48 victory over Canada in the quarterfinals. The four-time defending gold medalists have won 39 straight games in Olympic play and will play Australia in the next round.
Sylvia Fowles and Candace Parker had 12 points apiece for the U.S., which harassed Canada into three shot-clock violations in the first seven minutes.
Maggie Steffens scored four goals and the U.S. women's team topped Australia 11-9 in overtime, shaking off a potentially costly blunder by coach Adam Krikorian to reach the Olympic final.
In a bruising match between medal contenders, Australia's Southern Ash converted a penalty with one second left in regulation to tie it at 9 and force overtime.
The officials awarded the penalty after Krikorian called a timeout without his team having possession of the ball.
Britain ended Germany's decades-long domination of team dressage by winning the gold at Greenwich Park, adding to its first team show jumping gold in 60 years, which it won a day earlier.
Ilya Zakharov of Russia scored 104.50 points on his last dive to win the 3-meter springboard, stopping China's bid to sweep all eight diving events.
Zakharov totaled 555.90 points in the six-round final. China's Qin Kai settled for silver at 541.75, and He Chong, the defending champion and Qin's teammate, earned the bronze.
Brazil reached its first Olympic men's soccer final in 24 years when it beat South Korea behind two second-half goals by Leandro Damiao.
The Brazilians will face Mexico, which beat Japan 3-1 at Wembley Stadium in the other semi.
Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina won duet for Russia, which hasn't lost an Olympic synchronized swimming event since the 1996 Atlanta Games.
The Russians finished with 197.100 points.
It was a family affair on the podium for the men's triathlon, with Alistair Brownlee taking the gold for Britain and younger brother Jonathan finishing third.
Alistair Brownlee pulled away from Javier Gomez of Spain halfway through the 10-kilometer run to finish in 1 hour, 46 minutes, 25 seconds. Gomez took silver, and Jonathan Brownlee secured the bronze despite serving a 15-second time penalty.
Katarina Bulatovic's last-second goal lifted Montenegro to a 23-22 victory over France, making it the first country to reach the semifinals of the women's handball tournament in its Olympic debut.
Montenegro will play Spain in the next round after Bulatovic converted a clutch penalty shot. Defending champion Norway will take on South Korea in the other semifinal on Thursday.
Britain qualified for the Olympic men's semifinals for the first time since it won the 1988 Seoul Games by surviving a dramatic finish to draw 1-1 with Spain.
Britain completed a semifinals lineup that includes the last six Olympic winners. The home side will face the Netherlands, and Germany takes on Australia.