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Kabaeva wins rhythmic all-around

ATHENS, AUG. 29. Russian Alina Kabaeva wasn't about to let the gold medal slip from her grasp this time.

Four years after watching her medal hopes end when she lost control of her hoop, the two-time world champion won the rhythmic gymnastics all-around in a rout on Sunday. She finished with 108.400 points, more than a point ahead of silver medallist Irina Tchachina of Russia. Anna Bessonova of Ukraine took the bronze.

Kabaeva knew the gold was hers when she finished her last routine, shimmying her shoulders and shaking her hips as she walked off the mat. When the final results were posted, she exchanged a long hug with Tchachina and then gave fans a thumbs up.

Kabaeva was the heavy favourite to win gold in Sydney, but she had to settle for the bronze when her hoop skittered away from her and she had to run off the mat to get it. She won a second world title in 2001, but had to give it back after testing positive for a diuretic at the Goodwill Games. She also was banned from competition for a year.

Tchachina, second at the 2001 world championships, tested positive for the same drug and also had to give back her medal.

Kabaeva returned to competition last September at the world championships, winning another world title and establishing herself as the one to beat in Athens.

Russia to the fore

Russia underlined its superiority in rhythmic gymnastics by winning the group gold medal with an alluring synchronised performance on Saturday night.

The defending champion easily outclassed its challengers with its two dramatic routines to earn 51.100, an impressive 1.65 points ahead of second-placed Italy.

Performing to the theme tune from the `Matrix', the Russian quintet stormed into an early lead with 25.300 points with its twirling ribbon display.

Having swapped their black and silver ensembles for hot pink numbers, the Russians produced a routine full of drama and intrigue in the second rotation.

With three hoops and two balls, the champion showcased its acrobatic choreography to the music from `Kill Bill'.

The crowd erupted after Italy's second routine but its chants of `Italia Italia' failed to sway the judges and the team ended up taking the silver with 49.450.

A theatrical routine to the strains of `Bolero' helped Bulgaria edge out Belarus for the bronze.

South Korea's protest

South Korea appealed to sport's supreme legal body in an attempt to secure the Olympic gymnastics all-round gold medal for Yang Tae-young, who was robbed of the title 11 days ago by a scoring error.

Paul Hamm, who became the first American man to win the Olympic all-round title, should not have been awarded the gold, the governing body of gymnastics (FIG) ruled last Saturday.

Despite admitting the error, the FIG refused to redistribute the medals and the Koreans have now applied to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to overturn the federation's decision.

CAS spokesman Matthieu Reeb said although its decisions are usually made public in 24 hours, it might take longer to evaluate an outcome in the Korean's case due to the technicalities involved.

"He (Yang) wants this very obvious misjudgement to be corrected ... that's not Paul Hamm's medal, that's his own medal," Korean delegation spokeswoman Yoo Jae-soon said on Thursday. "It is a matter of basic fairness and justice."

The gymnastics federation suspended three judges for the misscoring and even requested Hamm to hand the medal back on Friday in a gesture of `fairplay'.

The U.S. Olympic committee reacted angrily to FIG's suggestion and said Hamm was the legitimate winner of the competition.

FIG admitted Yang had been unfairly docked a 10th of a point from his parallel bars routine during the all-around final. — Agencies

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