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Barnes redeems himself with gold

He was sixth in the shot put as he set himself for his final throw, more than a foot behind the competition-leading 68 feet, 2{ inches posted by U.S. teammate John Godina.

But when that final throw landed beyond the 21-meter tape, Randy Barnes knew the standings were about to change.

He hopped in the air and thrust both fists toward the sky. Then he turned, raced toward the stands and cut the night air with brisk uppercuts. Six years ago, in August 1990, he was slapped with a two-year suspension for steroid abuse. Friday in Atlanta, he was an Olympic gold-medal winner, a distinction he earned with that last toss of 70-11\.

Godina, who hadn't moved into first until his fifth attempt, was second, making this the second straight Games the United States went 1-2 in the shot. Ukraine's Oleksandr Bagach grabbed the bronze with a final throw of 68-1.

"I," Godina said, "was in a fog all night."

He came out of it long enough to post his 68-2{, then he fouled on his final attempt and had to wait on his teammate.

"I knew I was capable (of topping Godina's effort)," Barnes said. "So I was telling myself to relax. I just turned 30 this year and it was very important for me to take advantage of this."

Godina wasn't surprised.

"I knew he was going to do what he did. So when it happened, it didn't feel like anything," said Godina, the winner at last year's World Championships with a toss of 70-5\. "But at least I got second. I wasn't an utter failure."

Ecuador gets a gold

Jefferson Perez made Ecuador's first Olympic medal a gold one when he pulled away at the finish to win the 20-kilometer walk, the first event of track and field.

Wearing a white cap, the 22-year-old Perez entered Olympic Stadium to the loud cheers of the near-capacity crowd. His winning time of 1 hour, 20 minutes, 7 seconds was 14 seconds faster than his best.

Ilya Markov of Russia won the silver medal in 1:20:16. Bernardo Segura of Mexico won the bronze in 1:20:23.

Markov led Perez by five seconds at the 16-kilometer mark of the race, which wound through the streets of Atlanta under overcast skies and in relatively cool weather.

Perez was the world junior 10-kilometer champion in 1992 and the Pan American Games 20K winner in 1995. But he was only 33rd in last year's World Championships.

The closest Ecuador had come to a medal was in 1972, when swimmer Jorge Delqado Panchama finished fourth in the 200-meter butterfly.

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