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Merritt of U.S., Cuba's Robles capture track gold

LaShawn Merritt easily beat defending Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner to take the 400-metre gold medal on Day 13 of the Beijing Olympics.

LaShawn Merritt of the United States easily beat defending Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner to take the 400-metre gold medal on Day 13 of the Beijing Olympics.

Merritt ran a personal best of 43.75 seconds to take the win over his American rival. Merritt surged around the final turn, and Wariner appeared to tighten up. 
Lashawn Merritt of the United States crosses the line well ahead of rival Jeremy Wariner in the final. ((Stu Forster/Getty Images))

Wariner coasted over the finish line and was almost overtaken by the next two fastest men, but took silver in 44.74 seconds.

"I didn't have anything left. I don't know what to say," Wariner said.

David Neville of the U.S. lunged head first at the finish line for an American sweep of medals, just beating beat out Christopher Brown of the Bahamas for the bronze.

Wariner had been untouchable since his Athens win until earlier this year, when he was beaten three times by Merritt, including at the U.S. Olympic trials. He had beaten Merritt in their two most recent head-to-heads, however.

Wariner and Merritt, based on their semifinal runs, appeared poised to take a run at the existing world and Olympic marks, but it did not happen.

Michael Johnson ran 43.49 at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and then set the world mark three years later, at 43.18.

Johnson watched his 200-metre mark fall on Wednesday, broken by Jamaica's Usain Bolt.

Robles untouchable in 110m final

In the 110-metre men's hurdles final, Cuban Dayron Robles easily took the gold, with the bespectacled athlete finishing in 12.94 seconds. 
Dayron Robles of Cuba celebrates his hurdles gold on Thursday in Beijing. ((Mark Dadswell/Getty Images))

Americans took the other two medals, with David Payne grabbing silver and David Oliver the taking the bronze.

Robles served notice of his intention to win gold in June in Ostrava, Czech Republic, setting a world record in 12.87 seconds.

The previoius record holder was China's Liu Xiang, the 2004 Olympic champion. Liu did not compete in Beijing due to a hamstring injury. 

Medal possibilities also opened up for the field when two-time silver medallist Terrence Trammell of the United States bowed out due to a hamstring injury.

Liu's Olympic record, 12.91 seconds, still stands.

With files from the Associated Press