Thursday, August 21, 2008

— Only when Usain Bolt began his celebration Wednesday night after winning the men’s 200 meters at the Bird’s Nest in world record-setting time did the real chaos begin.

The end result after nearly two hours of protests, deliberations and rulings: Race officials disqualified second-place finisher Churandy Martina of Netherlands Antilles and third-place finisher Wallace Spearmon of the United States for running out of their lanes, and they awarded Shawn Crawford and Walter Dix the Olympic silver and bronze medals, respectively.

The finishing order’s shakeup gave Bolt another record. At 19.30, his 0.66-second margin over Crawford was the largest in race history.

“It feels kind of weird,” Crawford said. “It feels like a charity case.”

Crawford won the 200 at the Athens Olympics.

Dix also claimed bronze in Saturday’s 100 meters.

Spearmon’s disqualification came after the race, and the U.S. team lodged a protest. After reviewing the film, race officials upheld the decision. The United States accepted the ruling but then appealed that second-place finisher Martina also had left his lane.

Nearly two hours after the race - at about 12:20 a.m. Beijing time -race officials announced Martina’s disqualification.

“I did nothing wrong,” Martina said before his disqualification. “I saw the race on television, and I understand the disqualification of Spearmon.”

Omayra Leeflang, the minister of sport for Netherlands Antilles, criticized the U.S. team for filing the protest against his country’s runner.

“It’s not in the spirit of the Olympics,” he said. “It’s a pity for a big country like the U.S. to make such a small statement.”

• Sheena Tosta won a silver medal in the women’s 400-meter hurdles. Tiffany Ross-Williams finished eighth.

• In opening heat and semifinal action before the 200, Bernard Lagat won his heat in the 5,000 meters, only taking the lead in the final 25 meters. Americans David Payne and David Oliver advanced to the finals of the 110-meter hurdles, and Allyson Felix and Muna Lee will run in the 200-meter final.

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