Jamaica's Usain Bolt gestures as he celebrates after winning the men's 100m final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 5, 2012.
(Photo : Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach)
Jamaica seeks to extend its sprint dominance at London 2012 on Wednesday when Usain Bolt sets out to book his place in the men's 200 meter final and Veronica Campbell-Brown attempts to become the first woman to win three golds at the distance.
On day 12 of Olympic competition, 16 gold medals will be decided in sports ranging from beach volleyball to horse jumping and table tennis to taekwondo, but the focus will be on the track when the world's fastest men and women do battle.
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China extended the gap at the top of the medals table on Tuesday, leading the Americans by 34 golds to 30, while third-placed Britain advanced to 22, its best haul for more than a century.
On a cool and cloudy morning at the Olympic Stadium, American Ashton Eaton opened his bid to become the best all-round male athlete of the Games with a 10.35-second 100 dash that put the decathlon favorite ahead of the field.
Former Olympic champion Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic bowed out, however, after struggling in his race with an injury to his right heel.
British favorite Mo Farah, winner of the 10,000 at the weekend, was cheered around the track by 80,000 spectators in a 5,000 heat which he came through comfortably despite clashing legs with a few rivals.
Sarah Attar became the first woman from conservative Saudi Arabia to compete in the Olympic athletics, coming last in an 800 heat she ran wearing a white head cover.
"Hopefully this can make such a huge difference," she told BBC Radio 5 Live. "It was such a unique opportunity, they invited me and welcomed me and to make that first step for women is just the most amazing feeling ever."
Compatriot Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shaherkani similarly bowed out at the first hurdle, lasting just 80 seconds on the judo mat last week, but the pair have been hailed as heroines by some people in their homeland and around the world.
There was drama in the men's pole vault when Cuban Lazaro Borges' pole snapped in two places as he rose towards the bar, but he escaped unharmed.
Russia's 30-year-old double Olympic champion and world record holder in the women's event, Yelena Isinbayeva, told Reuters on Wednesday she would compete again in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 having come a disappointing third in the London Games.
Her compatriot Ivan Ukhov revealed that he had been forced to borrow a T-shirt from a team mate to make his winning leap in the men's high jump the night before after his own vest was stolen midway through the competition.
It may even have helped. The shirt belonged to fellow Russian and 2008 Olympic champion Andrei Silnov.
"I guess Andrei being the 2008 champion just passed me the good luck," Ukhov told Russian media.
Once again the main stadium was packed with enthusiastic crowds on Wednesday and mostly sold out Olympic venues have underlined how the Games have caught the imagination of a public spurred on by Britain's best gold medal haul for 104 years.
The women's soccer final between the United States and Japan at Wembley on Thursday is set to break the Olympic attendance record with a crowd of at least 83,000, beating the previous benchmark of 76,489 in 1996 in Athens, Georgia.
At Dorney Lake outside London, Hungary claimed two titles - Rudolf Dombi and Roland Kokeny beat Portugal in a photo finish in the men's kayak double and in the women's kayak four they denied fierce rivals Germany the chance to take their fifth straight Olympic title.
After Jamaican 100 golds for Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Campbell-Brown, who took bronze in the 100 on Saturday, lines up in the 200 against three-times world champion Allyson Felix of the United States, whom she beat into silver at the last two Games.
Also in the field are Fraser-Pryce, Olympic 400 champion Sanya Richards-Ross and 100 silver medalist Carmelita Jeter.
The Jamaicans' success - including a 100 silver for Bolt's training partner Yohan Blake - has sparked wild celebrations back home in the week that the Caribbean nation marks 50 years of independence from Britain.
The gangly Bolt is seeking to secure an unprecedented double-double - 100 and 200 golds at successive Games.
On a wet night at the stadium on Tuesday, Taoufik Makhloufi ran a scorching last lap to take gold for Algeria in the 1,500 and attributed his victory to "the will of God", a day after dropping out of an 800 heat with what his team said was a knee injury.
Makhloufi had been disqualified from the 1,500 final for not trying in his heat at the shorter distance but was reinstated on the eve of the race thanks to a medical report.
Evidence provided by two doctors said "the athlete suffered from a painful injury, which however, with appropriate treatment, may allow him to compete in 24 hours".
Showing no ill effects, Makhloufi broke away on the back straight of the final lap and accelerated around the last bend to win comfortably from American Leonel Manzano.
The incident drew parallels with a scandal earlier in the Games in which eight female badminton players were expelled from the Olympics for deliberately losing matches in order to manipulate the draw.
They were adjudged to have broken the spirit, if not the rules of their sport and many deemed the treatment as harsh and evidence of double standards among organizers and officials.