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Americans Take Home Medals In Track, Wrestling


Now to London and some of today's Olympic results. Several American athletes picked up gold. At least one U.S. team that was expected to get gold did not and another team set a world record. NPR's Mike Pesca is in London with the details. And, Mike, let's start with track and field and the women's 4x100 relay, a sport where women - the U.S. women tend to dominate in that event. How about today?

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: More than dominate, world record.


PESCA: The team of Tianna Madison, Allyson Felix, Bianca Knight, Carmelita Jeter - I wanted to mention them all - they ran the 4x100 faster than anyone had ever run it. Now, the key to winning this race is, of course - I'm not going to shock you when I tell you - it's speediness...


PESCA: ...but it's also and the less concentrated upon component is passing the baton, and this undid the United States in the 2008 Olympics...

BLOCK: Yeah.

PESCA: ...in Beijing. And so the United States actually practiced methods. You can go overhand. You can go underhand. They used the push method. I went back. I watched the tape. It was all good passes. And because of that, when Jeter crossed that line, she pointed right at that world record time, and she knew she had gotten it. It was only the second world record set on the track in these Olympics.

BLOCK: Now, in the men side, the 4x400 relay, American men have won this. They've won Olympic gold in this event 16 times. Talk about dominating. What about this year?

PESCA: Well, it was not to be this year. And we do have to set this up as saying that the best runner for the U.S. men of the 400 was - is LaShawn Merritt, but LaShawn Merritt was hurt. He didn't even participate in the 400 meter race, not the relay, just the race itself. So it doesn't mean that the U.S. wasn't deep, but what happened was that in the very last leg, Angelo Taylor was caught by Ramon Miller of the Bahamas, which means the Bahamas wins gold and U.S. wins silver. But I have to say that to even get in this race, it was one of the more amazing examples of you want to call it the Olympics spirit or just an athlete giving his all.

Manteo Mitchell ran the opening leg of the qualifying heat for 4x400, and he broke his leg halfway through.

BLOCK: Yeah.

PESCA: So 200 meters in, he hears a pop. He says the leg is broken. But he knows if he stops, that's it. They're out of the prelims, they're out of the finals. He finishes that last 200 meters, and you can even tell if you go back and watch the tape, you can even tell the guy was running on a broken leg.

BLOCK: Let's move on to wrestling, Mike. The American Jordan Burroughs from Nebraska was favored to win in his weight class. How did he do?

PESCA: Yeah. He snapped his opponents in half. Jordan Burroughs, originally from the tough streets of Camden, New Jersey, went to university in Nebraska, back-to-back NCAA champion. And he was just so much faster and so much stronger than everyone in the field. And talk about sticking to a game plan. You know, every round of the fight, he would just brush aside the opponent's aggression in the last couple of seconds, score a point, score a point or two, and he did that every time. And he won the only wrestling gold for the United States. It's a sport we used to be fairly dominant in, and he's the only freestyle wrestler probably who will get gold this whole Olympics for the U.S.

BLOCK: And finally, Mike, we can talk about the result in men's basketball, the Dream Team.

PESCA: Yeah. This iteration of the Dream Team beat Argentina. We've beaten Argentina before on these courts. The final score was 109-83. And, you know, the United States, I guess, you could look at it like, oh, we're so much better, oh, we're pouring it on, if you're an American or fans of the Americans, but it has to be said that it is skill. It is the same as someone in another sport, you know, an Olympic-only sport, who dominates judo. So even though the games aren't close, usually, they're - sometimes, they're close at halftime or a little way into the third quarter. The United States is playing for gold against the Spanish team, perhaps the only team that could really give us a run for our money.

BLOCK: OK. NPR's Mike Pesca in London. Mike, thanks. Have a great time.

PESCA: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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