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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kristin Armstrong wins gold medal

Veteran American cyclist Kristin Armstrong became only the second American woman to win a gold medal in an Olympic road racing event by winning the women's time trial today.

Kristin Armstrong -- no relation to 7-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and not to confused with Lance Armstrong's ex-wife of the same name -- won the 14.6-mile time trial in 34 minutes, 51.72 seconds — 24.29 seconds better than Emma Pooley of Great Britain. Switzerland's Karin Thuerig was third, almost a minute behind the time set by Armstrong. American Christine Thorburn finished fifth.

In fourth place was France's Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli, who is 49 years ago. I personally remember seeing Longo win the women's road race in the 1986 World Championhips in Colorado Springs, Colo. Somewhere hidden in my slide archive, I have a picture of Longo being interviewed after her victory. It truly is amazing how an athlete can stay at the top of her game for so long.

Armstrong, who turned 35 on Monday, cried tears of happiness as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played during the awards ceremony. The only other American woman to have won a gold medal in a road event is Connie Carpenter, who won the inaugural women's road race in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

UPDATE: Later today, American Levi Leipheimer took the bronze medal in the men's time trial. Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland won the gold by riding the 47.3-kilometer circuit in 1 hour, 2 minute, 11.43 seconds. Gustav Larsson of Sweden was 33.36 seconds behind Cancellara, while Leipheimer was 1:09.68 behind. American David Zabriskie was 12th, more than 3 minutes behind Cancellara

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