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Shani captures second straight 1000M gold

RICHMOND, British Columbia - This time all that mattered was the color of the medal, not the color of his skin.

With a furious kick on the final lap Wednesday, Shani Davis stuck his skate across the line and won his second straight gold medal in 1,000-meter Olympic speedskating. Four years ago at Turin, he became the first African-American athlete to win an individual gold at the Winter Games. This time, he simply wanted to be known for his skating. Period.

"It's always nice to go out there and do it again," Davis said.

The Americans broke their medal drought at the Richmond Olympic Oval with a flourish, claiming not just one but two spots on the podium. Chad Hedrick, who won three medals at the 2006 games, claimed a surprising bronze.

Davis swung both arms twice on the final backstretch, knowing he needed a little more speed to catch South Korea's Mo Tae-bum. The American found just enough, posting a time of 1 minute, 8.94 seconds.

Mo, who won gold in the 500 two days earlier, settled for silver this time, 18-hundreths behind Davis. Hedrick was third in 1:09.32.

After Davis finished he coasted around near the finish line where Hedrick skated over to shake his hand firmly and pat him on the back several times.

Four years ago, their accomplishments in Italy - Davis won a gold and silver; Hedrick a medal of each color - were overshadowed by a feud stemming from the team pursuit. Davis wanted to stick with his individual events, a decision that peeved Hedrick, who believed it cost the Americans a shot at a medal.

Their animosity boiled over at a news conference after the 1,500, in which Davis finished second and Hedrick third. Hedrick brought up the team pursuit, and Davis stormed out of the room complaining that Hedrick didn't congratulate him on his gold, only the silver.

No hard feelings this time.

The two stood together on the victory stand, each holding one end of an American flag.

"Everything that Shani and I had in 2006 is behind us now," Hedrick said. "We're here. We're proud to represent our country. We're proud to put a few more medals on the table of the Americans."

"I could have done better," Mo said through a translator. "Shani had the greater technique in turning the corners."

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