LONDON — American teenager Claressa Shields danced, brawled and even stuck out her tongue. She also managed to win the first middleweight gold medal in women’s Olympic boxing Thursday in another busy day at the London Games.
The 17-year-old Shields, from Flint, Mich., was too much for Russian opponent Nadezda Torlopova, posting a 19-12 victory in the final.
“This was something I wanted for a long time, even when boxing wasn’t going all right, even when my life wasn’t going all right,” said Shields, who found sanctuary in a boxing gym during a rough childhood.
“All I wanted was a gold medal, and I kept working towards it, even when people were saying I couldn’t do it. I’m too young. I couldn’t do it. There were girls who were going to beat me because of better experience, more experience. I proved them all wrong.”
In other action, Maggie Steffens scored five times and the U.S. women’s water polo team beat Spain 8-5 to take the Olympic tournament for the first time. The American volleyball squad beat South Korea in straight sets and will go for its first indoor women’s gold when it faces Brazil on Saturday in a rematch of the 2008 final.
The big performance for the U.S. women came one day after Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings won an All-American final in beach volleyball.
Not to be outdone, the American men took the top two spots in the men’s decathlon (Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee) and triple jump (Christian Taylor and Will Claye), raising the U.S. track and field total with three days to go to 24 medals.
Among the big track finals on tap for Friday is the men’s 4×400-meter relay, which took on added intrigue with Oscar Pistorius and South Africa making the field and a gutsy preliminary performance by Manteo Mitchell of the U.S.
The man known as “Blade Runner” because of his carbon-fiber prosthetics will get a chance to run for an Olympic medal after officials accepted South Africa’s protest over a collision and awarded an extra spot in the final. Pistorius already is the first amputee to compete on a Summer Games track.
Mitchell was halfway through the opening lap of the relay heat when he felt something pop in his left leg. He managed to keep going and helped the Americans tie for first with the Bahamas in 2:58.87.
A few hours later, doctors told him he had a broken leg.
“I heard it and I felt it,” Mitchell told The Associated Press. “But I figured it’s what almost any person would’ve done in that situation.”
The IOC is set to formally strip American cyclist Tyler Hamilton of his gold from the 2004 Athens Games and reassign the medals after his admission of doping, according to an Olympic official familiar with the case.
With the eight-year deadline approaching, the official told The Associated Press the IOC executive board will meet Friday to readjust the standings from the road race time trial and award the gold to retired Russian rider Viatcheslav Ekimov.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision hasn’t been announced yet.
After years of denials, Hamilton told CBS’s “60 Minutes” last year that he had repeatedly used performance-enhancing drugs. The IOC asked for documents from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency before reallocating the medals.
The gold will now go to Ekimov, a former teammate of Hamilton and Lance Armstrong.
American Bobby Julich will be moved up from bronze to silver, and Michael Rogers of Australia from fourth to bronze.
The rest of the Olympic action Thursday:
SWIMMING: Eva Risztov of Hungary led most of the way in a grueling open water marathon at Hyde Park, holding off a desperate bid to chase her down by American Haley Anderson.
The big crowd was hoping for a gold medal from world champion Keri-anne Payne, but the British swimmer finished fourth.
Risztov beat Anderson by four-tenths of a second after nearly two hours of racing around The Serpentine. The winner climbed out of the water, smiling and looking fresh. She even flexed for the big crowd.
Risztov retired from swimming after the 2004 Olympics, upset with her results and tired of the pool. She eventually decided to give open water a try, and it sure worked out in a big way.
Martina Grimaldi of Italy got the bronze in the 10-kilometer race.
DIVING: Chen Ruolin of China won the women’s 10-meter platform gold, easily defending her title from Beijing.
Chen totaled 422.30 points during the five-dive final, winning by a 55.80-point margin. She earlier won gold in the 10-meter synchronized and swept the platform events for the second consecutive games.
China has won six of seven diving gold medals with only the men’s platform remaining.
Brittany Broben, a 16-year-old from Australia competing in her first Olympics, took the silver at 366.50. Pandelela Pamg of Malaysia was third.
SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING: Russia led the technical routine of the team event — as expected.
Russia has won this event at the past three Olympics. Featuring Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina, the pair that won the duet Tuesday, it collected a near-perfect 98.1 points.
The favorites competed to a Russian dance routine composed by Denis Garnizov, as Prince William’s wife, Kate, looked on from the crowd.
China was next with 97.0 points and Spain finished third with 96.2 points.
Medals will be handed out after Friday’s free routines, with points from both days added up.
CANOE SPRINT: The quartet of Tate Smith, Dave Smith, Murray Stewart and Jacob Clear gave Australia a lift with a surprising wire-to-wire win in the men’s 1,000-meter K-4.
It was Australia’s first team gold in canoe sprint — and took its overall tally in London to six after wins by cyclist Anna Meares, 100-meter hurdler Sally Pearson and sailors Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen in the past three days.
Germany collected two more victories, with Tina Dietze and Franziska Weber taking the women’s 500-meter K-2 and Peter Kretschmer and Kurt Kuschela winning the men’s double canoe sprint 1,000.
Danuta Kozak won her second gold of the regatta for Hungary, grabbing the top spot in the women’s single kayak 500-meter sprint.
ELSEWHERE IN LONDON: Charlotte Dujardin of Britain won the individual dressage gold medal on Valegro, scoring 90.089 percent in the deciding grand prix musical freestyle which featured Olympic theme music and chimes from Big Ben. Adelinde Cornelissen of the Netherlands, riding Parzival, won silver, while Laura Bechtolsheimer of Britain on Mistral Hojris took the bronze. … Women’s freestyle wrestling golds went to Japan’s Saori Yoshida (55-kilogram) and Russia’s Natalia Vorobieva (72-kg). … The men’s 470 medals race was abandoned because there wasn’t enough wind on the nicest day of the sailing regatta. It was rescheduled for Friday.