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Absalon and Spitz claim mountain bike glory

  • Story Highlights
  • Julien Absalon becomes the first rider to defend the men's mountain bike title
  • 36-year-old German Sabine Spitz claims victory in the women's mountain bike
  • China complete a table tennis clean sweep with the gold medal won by Ma Lin
  • Australian Matthew Mitcham denies China clean sweep of diving golds
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(CNN) -- French legend Julien Absalon took his status to new heights when he became the first rider to defend the men's mountain bike Olympic title.

Sabine Spitz of Germany celebrates her victory in the women's mountain bike on Saturday.

Sabine Spitz of Germany celebrates her victory in the women's mountain bike on Saturday.

Absalon kept the gold in French hands for the third Olympics in a row -- following Miguel Martinez's victory at Sydney in 2000 -- thanks to a commanding display early in the 36km race which left his rivals trailing.

"The Olympic Games is a massive motivation for every athlete and four years passes quickly, as it has from Athens to Beijing," said Absalon, who finished well ahead of compatriot Jean-Christophe Peraud with Nino Schurter pipping world champion and Swiss compatriot Christoph Sauser to the bronze medal.

A highly-fancied Swiss trio failed to match Absalon's early pace after he had begun to steadily grind out a lead by the second of the eight scheduled laps.

"It's great to do the double. It feels totally different (from 2004), but this just confirms what I achieved in Athens," added Absalon, who denied that he had made his victory look easy.

"I had as tough a race as everyone else. When I saw the chance to make the break I went for it. After that I really gave it everything I had."

In the women's 27km mountain bike race, defending champion Gunn-Rita Dahle from Norway was one of several contenders to fall victim to a course that was finally mastered by Germany's Sabine Spitz.

The 36-year-old, who only began racing at the relatively late age of 22, was determined to improve on her bronze medal in Athens.

She started fast and was soon racing on her own to gold ahead of Poland's Maja Wloszczowska, who finished with the silver ahead of Russian Irina Kalentieva.

"I feel pure joy at what I have finally achieved after so many years of hard work," said Spitz. "Winning the gold medal at the Olympic Games is the crowning glory."

The first boxing medals were decided on Saturday with Felix Diaz of the Dominican Republic winning his country's first ever Olympic boxing title after beating Thailand's Manus Boonjumnong to take the light-welterweight gold.

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But Thailand made amends in the flyweight final when Somjit Jongjohor comfortably out-pointing Cuban Andris Laffita 8-2 to claim his first Olympic gold.

Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine won the featherweight gold medal, capping a spectacular run through the tournament with a first-round stoppage of France's Khedafi Djelkhir.

James Degale of Britain won the middleweight gold medal, upsetting Cuba's Emilio Correa in a sloppy bout, while Correa failed to emulate his father's gold medal performance for Cuba in 1972.

Rakhim Chakhkiev of Russia gained revenge on Italy's world champion Clemente Russo by claiming heavyweight gold. Chakhkiev was beaten by Russo in the final of the world championships.

China's Ma Lin won gold in the men's singles table tennis tournament, defeating teammate Wang Hao to secure a clean sweep of all gold medals on offer to the host nation.

World number two Ma fought off world number one Wang in a scorching final strewn with fast and furious rallies to win 4-1 and cement China's status as the superpower of the sport.

The victory hands China a clean sweep of all six medals in the singles competition, after teammate Wang Liqin removed the last obstacle to the Chinese Wall -- defeating Sweden's veteran Jorgen Persson for the bronze medal.

A goal from Christopher Zeller in the 16th minute gave Germany the men's field hockey gold medal by defeating Spain 1-0 in the final. Australia took the bronze with a 6-2 win over the Netherlands in the play-off between the losing semifinalists.

Australian Matthew Mitcham won the men's 10m platform diving title to spoil China's bid for a sweep of all eight diving gold medals. China's Zhou Luxin settled for silver, while Russia's Gleb Galperin claimed the bronze medal.

Elsewhere, on the penultimate day of competition, Russia won the team event and swept both gold medals in synchronized swimming for the third consecutive Olympics.

Russia finished with a combined 99.500 points after Saturday's free routine. Spain took the silver with 98.251 points and China claimed the bronze with 97.334.

Anastasia Ermakova and Anastasia Davydova already won gold in the duet on Wednesday and were also part of Russia's eight-woman squad for the team event.

Norway's women's handball team won their first Olympic gold medal, beating Russia 34-27 in the final.

Norway rushed to an 8-1 lead after just eight minutes and remained well ahead for the rest of Saturday's match. Neither Norway nor Russia has ever won a gold medal in women's handball.

Brazil won their first women's volleyball gold medal after defeating the United States 25-15 18-25 25-13 25-21 in a hard-fought final.

Saturday also saw the remaining six disciplines decided in the canoeing, with Ken Wallace of Australia winning the gold medal in the men's 500-meter kayak singles.

The first-time Olympian won in one minute, 37.252 seconds from Adam van Koeverden of Canada. Briton Tim Brabants took the bronze medal to add to the gold he won in the 1,000m race.

Inna Osypenko-Radomska of Ukraine won gold in the women's 500-meter kayak singles, just nipping Italy in a tight finish.

Osypenko-Radomska's time of 1:50.673 seconds was enough to just pip Josefa Idem of Italy, with Germany's Katrin Wagner-Augustin taking bronze.

Saul Craviotto and Carlos Perez of Spain won gold medal in the men's 500-meter kayak doubles, slipping past the defending Olympic champions for victory.

Craviotto and Perez clocked 1:28.736 seconds to edge Ronald Rauhe and Tim Wieskotter into silver in a major shock as the German pair have been world champions since 2001. Raman Piatrushenka and Vadzim Makhneu of Belarus took bronze.

Katalin Kovacs and Natasa Janic of Hungary won the gold medal in the women's 500-meter kayak doubles, successfully defending their Olympic triumph in Athens.

The two-time world champions saw off Beata Mikolajczyk and Aneta Konieczna of Poland with the French tandem of Marie Delattre and Anne-Laure Viard taking bronze.

Maxim Opalev of Russia took gold medal in the men's 500-meter canoe singles, giving him his third medal in the last three Olympics and first gold.

Opalev took bronze four years ago in the Athens Games and silver in Sydney. David Cal of Spain won his second silver medal in two days, after also finishing second in the 1,000m. Iurii Cheban of Ukraine took the bronze medal.

Meng Guanliang and Yang Wenjun of China took gold in the men's 500-meter canoe doubles, successfully defending their Olympic triumph in Athens.

Sergey Ulegin and Alexander Kostoglod of Russia won silver while the German pair of Christian Gille and Thomasz Wylenzek took bronze.

Mexico's Maria del Rosario Espinoza won the gold medal in the women's 67kg taekwondo category. Espinoza, the 2007 world champion, easily defeated Norway's Nina Solheim on points after going ahead in the first round and never falling behind.

Winning bronze were Britain's Sarah Stevenson, who defeated Egypt's Noha Abd Rabo, and Brazil's Natalia Falavigna, who outscored Sweden's Karolina Kedzierska.

Russia's Evgeniya Kanaeva won gold in the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around competition, posting the highest score in all four rotations of the event.

Her final total of 75.500 points was enough to beat Inna Zhukova of Belarus, who gained 71.925 points for the silver. Anna Bessonova of the Ukraine had 71.875 points for her second straight bronze.

In women's basketball, Lisa Leslie of the United States capped off her illustrious Olympic career with a fourth straight gold medal, scoring 14 points in a 92-65 victory over Australia.

She joined former teammate Teresa Edwards as the only basketball players ever to win four Olympic gold medals.

"It's a blessing for me to be out on this floor, now participating in my fourth Olympics and walking away with a fourth gold medal," Leslie told the Associated Press.


Russia took the bronze, beating hosts China 94-81 as Becky Hammon scored 22 points.

The Australians have now lost to the Americans in the gold medal game in the past three Olympics with all three defeats coming by double-digit margins.

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