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Ohuruogu, defending world champ in 400m, takes gold

8/19/2008

BEIJING -- Christine Ohuruogu of Britain has won the gold medal in the women's 400 meters at the Beijing Olympics.

The reigning world champion was fourth coming into the last stretch Tuesday and hit the front near the finish line to win in 49.62 seconds.

Shericka Williams of Jamaica took silver in 49.69 and Sanya Richards of the United States, the early pacesetter, faded to finish with bronze in 49.93.

Richards was ahead, looking to write a successful closing chapter to a year of illness and setbacks, but was beaten badly over the last 80 meters by Ohuruogu and Williams.

Richards, who has dominated at the 400-meter distance, looked crushed during the medals ceremony. Afterward, she was sitting in a hallway beneath the Bird's Nest stands, crying into her cell phone. She told reporters her hamstring tightened up on the last turn of the one-lap race.

She lost most of her 2007 season to Behcet's syndrome, a rare and painful disorder that causes chronic inflammation of blood vessels throughout the body.

Ohuruogu won the 400 at the world championships in Osaka, Japan, last August just weeks after completing a one-year ban for missing three out-of-competition drug tests between October 2005 and July 2006.