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Bryan Clay of the United States competes in the discus throw of the decathlon at the Summer Olympics, Aug. 22, 2008. He won the gold medal, the first American to do so since 1996.
Bryan Clay of the United States competes in the discus throw of the decathlon at the Summer Olympics, Aug. 22, 2008. He won the gold medal, the first American to do so since 1996. Mark Dadswell/Getty Images
For the first time since 1996, an American has won Olympic gold in the decathlon. Bryan Clay, 28, showed his mastery during the two-day, 10-event classic of track-and-field athleticism, earning the unofficial title of best all-around athlete on the planet.
The U.S. men's beach volleyball team defended the honor of their gender by winning gold to match the American women, but the U.S. baseball team was trounced by Cuba in the semifinal. Overall, the U.S. medal pile topped 100.
While their female counterparts had to fight for their gold medal Thursday in wet sand and smog-stained rain, the U.S. men's beach volleyball team had sunny weather. But they still had a fight.
Americans Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers edged the Brazilian team in the first set, lost the second set and then came back to sweep the third. The 6-foot-9-inch Dalhausser intimidated the Brazilians with three in-your-face blocks in a row to end the final set 15-4.
The Americans won their third gold in men's beach volleyball since the event became an Olympic sport in 1996.
Meanwhile, U.S. men remained undefeated in volleyball of the hard-floor variety, beating Russia in five intense sets for a spot in the final. They'll play the winner of the semifinal between Brazil and Italy in the title match on Sunday.
The U.S. women's volleyball team will play Brazil for gold on Saturday.
Bolt Strikes Gold Again
Meanwhile, Usain Bolt helped Jamaica win the 400-meter relay final in 37.10 seconds Friday for his third gold medal and third world record of the Olympics.
Earlier this week, the sprinter won the 100- and 200-meter events in dramatic fashion. He became only the fourth man, and the first since American Carl Lewis in 1984, to win all three Olympic sprint events.
American Wins Decathlon
Clay, the track star from Honolulu, struck gold by achieving high scores in 10 different events over two days. He finished first or second in half the events, and third in two others. By the final event, the 1,500-meter race, Clay didn't need to strain. He ran just fast enough to maintain his lead.
Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus finished second, followed by Leonel Suarez of Cuba.
American Trey Hardee, who was fourth going into the pole vault competition, failed to clear the bar in three attempts at his opening height, dooming any hopes for a medal.
U.S. Bikers Medal In BMX
It's rough, it's bumpy and it's over in seconds. That's the tooth-rattling BMX bicycle competition. Californians Mike Day and Donny Robinson, respectively, won the silver and bronze medals in the men's event, finishing behind Maris Strombergs of Latvia. All three finished the course in under 37 seconds.
American Jill Kintner of Seattle won bronze in the women's division. The gold went to mountain-bike star Anne-Caroline Chausson and the silver to Laetitia le Corguille, both of France.
If you don't finish in the top three in BMX competition, it's generally because you crash, and that's what happened to the prerace favorite, Shanaze Reade of Great Britain, who finished last.
Bronze For U.S. Boxers; Loss For U.S. Baseball
Steve Lopez, the defending Olympic champion in the 80kg tae kwon do class, won a bronze medal by defeating Rashad Ahmadov of Azerbaijan.
In boxing, heavyweight Deontay Wilder finished with a bronze, after losing to Clemente Russo of Italy, 7-1.
The U.S baseball team was routed 10-2 by Cuba in the semifinal. The Cubans, who have won three of the previous four Olympic tournaments, will play South Korea on Saturday for the gold medal. South Korea beat Japan 6-2 in Friday's other semifinal game. The Americans will face Japan for the bronze on Saturday.
In basketball, the U.S. "redeem team" ended Argentina's hopes of an Olympic gold-medal repeat, starting fast and finishing strong in a 101-81 semifinal victory Friday night. The Americans will face Spain, who they clobbered by 37 points in pool play, on Sunday in a bid to win their first gold in a major international event since the 2000 Olympics.
Lithuania and Argentina will meet Sunday for the bronze. Spain beat Lithuania 91-86 in the first basketball semifinal.
Chinese Gymnasts' Ages Questioned
The International Gymnastics Federation has asked China to provide more documents showing that at least five members of its women's team are not under age. A spokeswoman for the International Olympic Committee says there is still no proof that the team members are younger than the cutoff age of 16, but that there are "apparent discrepancies."
The U.S. now holds a decisive lead in total medals at these games, with 101 to China's 85. Russia is in third place with 55. China is well ahead in the gold medal count, with 46 to the U.S. tally of 30.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.