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Big Deal: a second chance, a silver hammer

Just when he thought it was over, Lance Deal got a second chance and gave the United States its first Olympic medal in the hammer in 40 years.

"I felt like James Brown in his concert when he falls down like he's dead and then they pull the cape off and here he comes," Deal said.

One minute, Deal was squatting on the infield, head in his hands, believing he'd failed to make it to the final round.

Deal, 36, knew the top eight throwers after three rounds get three additional throws. Tied with Italy's Enrico Sgrulletti for eighth at 253-9, but believing Sgrulletti had the edge with a better next-best throw, Deal took off his shoes and jersey before officials told him his mark guaranteed him three more tosses, tie or no tie.

A few minutes later, given an unexpected second chance, he unleashed a 266-foot, 2-inch effort on his last throw to give him the silver medal, just 4 inches behind gold medalist Balazs Kiss of Hungary.

"It was amazing that he had almost given up and put himself back in and in his last throw he almost beat me. It's just fantastic," said Kiss, a student at Southern Cal who won his fourth consecutive NCAA title this year.

Other results:

+ With a last-ditch effort, Charles Austin gave the United States its first men's high jump gold medal since Dick Fosbury "flopped" his way to victory in 1968.

Austin was in second after failing twice at 7 feet, 9\ inches, behind Poland's Artur Partyka, who had cleared the height at his second attempt.

Austin, of Texas, the world champion in 1991, had the bar put up to 7-10 for his final attempt _ and went over.

Steve Smith of Britain took the bronze at 7-8{.

+ Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia, competing in only her fourth marathon, ran away from her more seasoned opponents for a surprising victory. She finished in 2 hours, 26 minutes and 5 seconds.

Roba, the first African woman to win a medal in the marathon since the event became part of the Olympics in 1984, dropped to her knees and kissed the track after crossing the finish line to the cheers of a near-capacity crowd at 85,000-seat Olympic Stadium.

She had enough energy left to take a victory lap, waving an Ethiopian flag and bowing to the crowd.

Roba, a police officer, expected a wild celebration in her homeland after her victory.

"I hope that people will rally throughout the city," she said.

Roba's time was three minutes faster than her previous best. She finished two minutes ahead of 1992 gold medalist Valentina Yegorova of Russia, who won the silver in 2:28:05.

Roba led the final 15 miles of the race.

"I figured out as soon as the race started, maybe seven or eight miles in, that I would win," she said.

The victory margin was the largest in the brief history of the Olympic event.

The start of the 26.2-mile race was moved up to 7 a.m. to avoid the summer heat. An early morning rainstorm stopped just before the start of the race, and the weather stayed cool under overcast skies throughout the marathon.

+ In the absence of heavily favored Jackie Joyner-Kersee of the United States, who withdrew because of a hamstring injury, Ghada Shouaa of Syria won the women's heptathlon gold medal. Natasha Sazanovich of Belarus took the silver medal and Denise Lewis of Britain the bronze.

+ China's Wang Junxia won the inaugural women's 5,000 meters title when she produced a startling burst of speed on the penultimate lap to race away from Kenya's Pauline Konga.

Wang, who won the world 10,000 title three years ago in Stuttgart before disappearing from the international scene after a split with coach Ma Junren, clocked 14 minutes 59.88 seconds.

Konga, who took the lead after New Zealander Anne Hare had made the early pace, finished second in 15:03.49 with Italian Roberta Brunet collecting the bronze in 15:07.42.

Ireland's world champion Sonia O'Sullivan, the pre-race favorite, was in trouble early on, trailed the field after 3,000 meters and dropped out before the finish.