* Putin thrilled by judo gold for Russian
* Phelps wins final duel with Lochte
* Double disqualification drama in velodrome
* "Goodbye beloved badminton," Chinese says
By Mark Trevelyan
LONDON, Aug 2 Black belt Vladimir Putin cheered
a Russian judoka to a gold medal at the Olympics on Thursday,
and American Michael Phelps hit new heights by becoming the
first male swimmer to win the same event at three successive
The futuristic velodrome witnessed six world cycling
records, a double disqualification and golds for Britain's men
and Germany's women in the team sprints.
Elsewhere, a 'play-to-lose' badminton scandal took a new
twist when a disqualified Chinese player said she was quitting
Controversy also struck in boxing. A Turkmen referee was
expelled for failing to stop a bout in which a fighter was
knocked down six times, and an Angolan coach was deemed a
"plonker" by his team chief for failing to present their only
fighter for a weigh-in, thus getting him disqualified.
It was Russian President Putin who staged one of the day's
most emphatic victory celebrations, leaping to his feet with
both fists aloft when his countryman Tagir Khaibulaev defeated a
Mongolian opponent to win Russia's third judo gold.
Putin, who cultivates a macho image based partly on his
skills on the mat, slapped the victor repeatedly on the back and
grabbed his cheeks with both hands.
In buoyant mood, he went on to suggest to Russian news
agency Interfax that members of female punk band Pussy Riot, on
trial for protesting against him in a Moscow cathedral, should
not be judged too harshly.
Prime Minister David Cameron watched the judo with Putin and
had reasons of his own to celebrate, as Britain rose to fifth in
the medals table with golds in the men's cycling, double trap
shooting and canoe slalom double.
In the scandal over match-throwing in the badminton
tournament, disqualified Chinese Yu Yang announced she was
quitting the sport in anguish.
"This is my last competition. Goodbye Badminton World
Federation, goodbye my beloved badminton," Yu wrote on her
She was one of eight women, two each from China and
Indonesia and four from South Korea, who were kicked out of the
Games for playing to lose group matches in order to secure
easier knockout berths.
The badminton debacle has been among the few sour notes of a
Games distinguished by enthusiastic crowds, dismal British
weather and the historic accomplishments of U.S. swimmer Phelps.
Two days after breaking the all-time record for the most
Olympic medals with 19, he added a 20th - and his 16th gold - by
winning the 200 metres individual medley.
In their final duel before Phelps is due to retire, he
pushed compatriot and world champion Ryan Lochte into second
Two female swimmers, Australia's Dawn Fraser and Hungary's
Krisztina Egerszegi, had won the same individual event at three
Games, but no man had previously achieved the feat.
It was a first individual gold of the London Games for
Phelps, no longer the all-conquering figure who won an
unprecedented eight gold medals four years ago in Beijing.
The United States also celebrated victories for its women's
rowing eight and for 16-year-old Gabby Douglas in the all-around
gymnastics, where she edged out Russians Victoria Komova and
"The all-round matters to me. People keeping saying I was
the first black American to win the gold medal and I'm so
honoured," Douglas, nicknamed Flying Squirrel, told reporters
after claiming the biggest prize in women's gymnastics.
For the first time at these Games, the Americans drew level
in the overall medals table with China, on 18 golds each.
China has 34 medals in all, including 11 silver and five
bronze, while the U.S. has 37, with nine silver and 10 bronze.
In the velodrome, dubbed the Pringle for its resemblance to
a curvy potato snack, Britain's men beat France and broke the
world record in the team sprint final.
"We gave it our all and it worked out," said Chris Hoy after
picking up his sixth Games medal and fifth gold.
The Chinese and British women had also set world records.
But the latter, strong medal contenders, were disqualified
after Victoria Pendleton went too early on a change-over with
team mate Jessica Varnish.
China were relegated for a takeover infringement in the
women's final, ending with the silver medal as the German team
celebrated their promotion to gold.