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Drained New Zealander barely makes medal ceremony

Aug. 16, 2008, 11:19 a.m. (ET)

BEIXIAOYING TOWN, China (AP) New Zealand's Mahe Drysdale just wasn't going to miss the medal ceremony after winning the Olympic bronze in the men's single sculls final - even if he couldn't stand when he finished the race.

Left fatigued after battling a stomach bug most of the week, Drysdale had to be carried back to the dock on a medical boat then hauled away on a stretcher for an examination. A few minutes later, Drysdale started heading toward the medal stand with the assistance of two people.

"I wanted to be there," he said, finally standing strong after getting a chance to replenish his fluids about 30 minutes later. "Maybe five minutes before, I tried to stand up and fell over again. Yeah, I wanted to be part of that experience. The other guys raced fantastically today and I don't think it's fair on them not to be there."

Team leader Andrew Matheson said Drysdale "rode himself to a standstill."

"Obviously, because of his illness he's had this week, he probably had less reserves in his tank than he would normally," Matheson said. "He obviously raced with what he had, which was a gutsy effort."

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SENIOR SAILOR: The oldest sailor at the Olympics, 58-year-old American John Dane III, and his son-in-law Austin Sperry took an unexpected overall lead in the venerable Star dinghy class after a second- and a fourth-place finish in Saturday's racing.

"That's what's great about this regatta. Nobody expects us to win a medal ... but we're not here as tourists," said Sperry.

Dane qualified for the U.S. sailing team in Beijing, after 40 years of unsuccessful attempts, first in 1968, at age 18, when he was No. 2 in a borrowed Dragon-class boat. He tried again in the Soling class in 1972, then in the Finn class in 1974 and the Star in 1984.

It finally worked when he teamed up with Sperry, now 30.

"It feels great. I'm probably in the best sailing shape I've been in for 30 years," said Dane, a New Orleans native who's been sailing since he was 10.

Dane flew from Qingdao, the sailing venue, to the Olympic opening ceremony a week ago in Beijing, 300 miles to the north.

"It was the thrill of a lifetime. I mean standing there in a tunnel, people chanting USA, the adrenalin pumping. It was just a moment to remember my whole life," said Dane.

But after just three races in the 11-race series, Dane says it's too early to be thinking about medals. The Americans are just one point ahead of the No. 2 New Zealand boat, and just five points out of sixth place.

"It's real early," said Dane. "They're all super sailors. At least 12 of them could win the gold medal. I mean they are that tough."

The oldest athlete at the entire Summer Olympics is Japanese equestrian team member Hiroshi Hoketsu, 67.

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BAGHDAD TO BEIJING: Dana Hussein wasn't sure if she would even be allowed to run.

The Iraqi sprinter was, however, and set a new personal-best mark, finishing her heat of the 100-meter run in 12.36 seconds on Saturday.

Hussein and her Iraqi teammates were cleared to compete after a dispute with the International Olympic Committee was finally resolved, and they arrived in China late Monday. The IOC had suspended Iraq in May over alleged government interference in the country's national committee.

Hussein, who didn't advance out of her heat, has been training under hostile conditions: A sniper once took a potshot at her in Baghdad. She's also running in donated spikes.

American sprinter Lauryn Williams admires what Hussein had to go through in order to compete in the Olympics.

"It (the Olympics) represents so much more than getting to the finish line first," Williams said. "It's really a great opporutnity for her. It's great for the world in general. We're representing more than just all the bad things that are going on."

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WRONG EXIT: Bradley Wiggins walked away from the Laoshan velodrome on Saturday with a gold medal - and a fine.

The British rider who is seeking three gold medals in track cycling was one of 10 riders fined 100 Swiss francs (US$91) for leaving the track by the wrong exit.

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