LONDON — First they told him to leave. Then they invited him back. Next they'll give him the gold.
Kicked out of the London Olympics for presumably not trying hard enough in another event, Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi got a second chance after a doctor took his side.
Back at the track Tuesday, he cashed in on that opportunity and won the 1,500 meters in 3 minutes, 34.08 seconds, beating Leonel Manzano of the United States by 0.71 seconds. Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco got the bronze in 3:35.13.
“Yesterday I was out," Makhloufi said. “And today I was in."
If only it were that simple.
On Monday, the race referee in the 800 meters, Makhloufi's other event, kicked him out of the Olympics for “failure to compete honestly with bona fide effort" after breaking slowly and pulling out of the race on the first lap.
He may have simply been conserving energy for Tuesday night's 1,500 final — not unheard of in the world of track — but the Algerian coaches insisted Makhloufi pulled out of the 800 because of a left knee injury. When a doctor examined the runner and said the injury was legit, track officials revoked the DQ and allowed him to start in the 1,500.
“I was not afraid of not being allowed to compete," Makhloufi said. “I knew I had two choices. Either I would compete, or not be allowed to compete. I tried not to think about it too much. I tried to stay calm, continue with my experience and my training."
Before Makhloufi's win, Sally Pearson won the 100-meter hurdles in the drizzle to serve up a rare dose of sunshine for Australia at these Olympics. Pearson finished in 12.35 seconds to edge defending champion Dawn Harper of the United States by .02 seconds and win just the fourth gold for the Aussies at an Olympics that has been downright dreary for them.
“We're definitely going to get more than that," Pearson insisted.
American Kellie Wells was third and Lolo Jones fourth, a tear-inducing result for the woman who spent four years waiting for a second chance for Olympic gold after clipping the next-to-last hurdle while leading in Beijing four years ago.
“At least this time it was a clean, smooth race," Jones said. “I wish I had a better result."
Earlier, the women's 200 semifinals went to form, with two-time defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and the woman she beat both times, American Allyson Felix, both making it to today's final. Also there: 100-meter winner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica and runner-up Carmelia Jeter and 400-meter champion Sanya Richards-Ross, both from the United States.
In the men's 200, 100-meter champion Usain Bolt and runner-up Yohan Blake both cruised through the first round.
But China's track superstar, Liu Xiang, barely made it out of the blocks in the 110 hurdles. Liu crashed into the first barrier and had to hop his way down the track, stopping to kiss a hurdle on the way out. The champion at the Athens Games in 2004 has failed to clear a single hurdle in the past two Olympics.
In other action on Tuesday, The last American boxer in the men's tournament was eliminated, giving the U.S. team its first Olympic medal shutout.
Welterweight Errol Spence dropped a 16-11 decision to Russia's Andrey Zamkovoy in the quarterfinals. The Dallas-area fighter started slowly and never got going in his team's ninth loss in 10 fights.
Spence only reached the quarterfinals after the Americans successfully protested a loss to India's Krishan Vikas over an accumulation of uncalled holding fouls last week.
Given a second chance to avoid the shutout, Spence said he had no reason to argue about this loss.
“I'm glad a better guy beat me this time, because I didn't like the way I went out last time," Spence said. “I didn't think about the pressure on the team. I just tried to fight my fight, and it didn't work out. He was the better man."
Track cycling wrapped up at the London Velodrome, and Chris Hoy gave the boisterous crowd one last memory.
Hoy broke the British record with his sixth Olympic gold medal, defending his keirin title to finish off a dominating performance by the home nation.
“Because this is the end, the last Olympics I'm doing, the last Olympic medal I can win, the nature of the whole event," Hoy said, “this one was probably the best."
Hoy's gold gave Britain seven out of 10 awarded at the London Velodrome, matching its haul from the Beijing Games.
The rest of the Olympic action Tuesday:
The U.S. women's team played without captain Lindsey Berg, but still managed a 25-14, 25-21, 25-22 victory over the Dominican Republic in the tournament quarterfinals. Berg is day to day with a left ankle injury and her status for Thursday's match against South Korea is uncertain. Courtney Thompson started at setter in the Americans' sixth consecutive victory at the games. Destinee Hooker scored 19 points for the United States, which has never won a gold in volleyball. The team took silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after falling in the final to Brazil. Brazil will meet Japan in the other semifinal.
Maggie Steffens scored four goals and the U.S. women's team topped Australia 11-9 in overtime, shaking off a potentially costly blunder by coach Adam Krikorian to reach the Olympic final. In a bruising match between medal contenders, Australia's Southern Ash converted a penalty with one second left in regulation to tie it at 9 and force overtime. The officials awarded the penalty after Krikorian called a timeout without his team having possession of the ball. The U.S. will meet unbeaten Spain in Thursday's final.
It was a family affair on the podium for the men's triathlon, with Alistair Brownlee taking the gold for Britain and younger brother Jonathan finishing third. Alistair Brownlee pulled away from Javier Gomez of Spain halfway through the 10-kilometer run to finish in 1 hour, 46 minutes, 25 seconds. Gomez took silver, and Jonathan Brownlee secured the bronze despite serving a 15-second time penalty. The younger Brownlee collapsed 10 minutes after the finish and had to be given ice packs and glucose by medical staff, delaying the medal ceremony.
Brazil reached its first Olympic men's soccer final in 24 years when it beat South Korea behind two second-half goals by Leandro Damiao. The Brazilians will face Mexico, which beat Japan 3-1 at Wembley Stadium in the other semi.
Britain ended Germany's decades-long domination of team dressage by winning the gold at Greenwich Park, adding to its first team show jumping gold in 60 years, which it won a day earlier. Germany took the silver and the Netherlands got the bronze. The competition received unusual attention at the London Games because the U.S. team featured Rafalca, a horse co-owned by the wife of the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The U.S. was sixth and Rafalca, ridden by Jan Ebeling, finished in 28th place. Ann Romney was in the VIP stands, as was Princess Anne, whose daughter Zara Phillips was part of the silver-winning British equestrian eventing team.
Ilya Zakharov of Russia scored 104.50 points on his last dive to win the 3-meter springboard, stopping China's bid to sweep all eight diving events. Zakharov totaled 555.90 points in the six-round final. China's Qin Kai settled for silver at 541.75, and He Chong, the defending champion and Qin's teammate, earned the bronze. Troy Dumais of the U.S. finished fifth, his best showing in four Olympics.
Windsurfing made a spirited games exit, with Dorian Van Rijsselberge of the Netherlands collecting the men's gold medal he had clinched days earlier and Marina Alabau of Spain winning the women's regatta. Windsurfing got the heave-ho from the lineup for the 2016 Rio Olympics in a vote in May, replaced by kiteboarding. The International RS:X Class Association filed a legal challenge last week against the International Sailing Federation.
Natalia Ishchenko and Svetlana Romashina won duet for Russia, which hasn't lost an Olympic synchronized swimming event since the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Russians improved on their free score from the preliminaries, finishing with a total of 197.100 points. Spain's Ona Carbonell and Andrea Fuentes took the silver after a lively, tango-themed routine that had the crowd at the Aquatics Centre clapping along nearly the whole way. China's Huang Xuechen and Liu Ou grabbed the bronze.
Katarina Bulatovic's last-second goal lifted Montenegro to a 23-22 victory over France, making it the first country to reach the semifinals of the women's handball tournament in its Olympic debut. Montenegro will play Spain in the next round after Bulatovic converted a clutch penalty shot. Defending champion Norway will take on South Korea in the other semifinal on Thursday.
Britain qualified for the Olympic men's semifinals for the first time since it won the 1988 Seoul Games by surviving a dramatic finish to draw 1-1 with Spain. Britain completed a semifinals lineup that includes the past six Olympic winners. The home side will face the Netherlands (1996, 2000), and Germany (1992, 2008) takes on Australia (2004).
China won the women's team table tennis title with a 3-0 victory against Japan. China has won three gold medals in the sport at the London Games, along with two silvers. It could complete the gold sweep in the team events by winning the men's final today against South Korea.
Behdad Salimikordasiabi of Iran took the final gold medal of the weightlifting competition, lifting a total of 455 kilograms in the super heavyweight class. Defending Olympic champion Matthias Steiner of Germany dropped the barbell on his neck in his second lift and withdrew from the competition.
Greco-Roman wrestling golds went to Iran's Ghasem Gholamreza Rezaei (96-kg) and South Korea's Kim Hyeon-woo (66-kg). The U.S. failed to medal in any of the Greco-Roman events at the Olympics for the first time since 1976.
Italian Josefa Idem became the first woman to compete in eight Olympic Games — and marked the occasion by upstaging a host of younger rivals to qualify for the flagship 500-meter K-1 final.