By Mike Collett-White and Kevin Liffey
LONDON (Reuters) - Usain Bolt surged to the Olympic 200 meters title on Thursday at the head of a Jamaican medal sweep to become the first man to win the 100 and 200m sprints at successive Games.
The race capped a historic night when Kenya's David Rudisha broke his own 800m world record, leaving the field trailing from the gun to become the first man under 1 minute 41 seconds.
Bolt's time equaled the fourth fastest ever run as he eased down in the last 10 meters, sensing that he was not on course to break his own world record. Silver went to his main rival and training partner Yohan Blake, bronze to Warren Weir.
"I knew it wasn't going to be a world record when I came around the corner, I could feel it," Bolt said. "I really wanted to try to get a world record in the 200 meters but it was harder than I think."
Now unchallenged as the greatest sprinter of all time, Bolt could add a sixth gold medal if he can anchor Jamaica to a second successive Olympic 4x100m victory on Saturday, in the last athletics event.
Rudisha also had his eye on history from the gun on a warm, still night before 80,000 rapt spectators.
"I had no doubt about winning, but I was waiting for perfect conditions to break the record," he said.
London Games chief Sebastian Coe, himself a former 800m world record holder, added: "Instead of just doing enough to win the race, he wanted to do something extraordinary... Rudisha's run will go down in history as one of the greatest Olympic victories."
Elsewhere on the 13th day of competition in London, the U.S. women's soccer team beat Japan 2-1 at Wembley Stadium to take revenge for their defeat in last year's World Cup final and claim their third straight Olympic gold.
Briton Nicola Adams became the first woman to win an Olympic boxing title in a thrilling flyweight bout against pre-fight favorite Ren Cancan of China at a packed ExCel arena.
The 29-year-old won easily on points in a four-round blizzard of punches, flooring her opponent once. Minutes later Irish lightweight Katie Taylor followed her to gold, and even louder roars, by narrowly beating Russian Sofya Ochigava.
Back in the stadium, world record holder Ashton Eaton of the United States won the decathlon ahead of his compatriot Troy Hardee.
There was another American one-two in the triple jump, where world champion Christian Taylor produced this year's biggest leap to take gold ahead of his compatriot Will Claye.
The Wembley soccer final drew an 80,000 crowd, an Olympic record for a women's match, underlining how popular the Games have been with the British public.
Inspired in part by the home team's gold medal haul, the best since 1908, venues have been packed with boisterous crowds, and 80,000 people again crammed the main Olympic stadium in the evening hoping to witness history.
Two golds on Thursday took Britain's total to 24, five better than Beijing in 2008 and their best performance since 1908, when London first hosted the Games.
They trail the U.S. who have 39 golds and China with 37.
In addition to Adams, Charlotte Dujardin won the individual dressage event on her horse Valegro after a freestyle that celebrated British musical classic "Pomp and Circumstance".
But their men's hockey hopes were dashed when the team lost their semi-final 9-2 to the Netherlands. In the final, the Dutch will play the title holders Germany, who beat world champions Australia 4-2.
Olympic fever has spilled into the Paralympic Games, which run in London from August 29 to September 9. The 2.1 million tickets sold so far have surpassed the previous high for the event of 1.8 million in Beijing in 2008.
In the 4x400m relay, South African double-amputee Oscar Pistorius was denied the chance to run his team's third leg in qualifying when second-leg runner Ofentse Mogawane collided with Kenya's Vincent Mumo Kiilu, sending both crashing to the ground.
South Africa were given a place in the final on appeal.
Jamaica failed to qualify in the event after Jermaine Gonzales pulled up injured midway through his leg.
Over bumps and around steep banks of the BMX cycling track, there were bone-shaking wipeouts as well as comfortable winners in the men's qualifiers ahead of Friday's final.
Australia's recovery from a slow start to the Games continued on Thursday with gold in the men's K4 1,000m canoeing final on Dorney Lake outside London.
Other winners on the water included Hungary's Danuta Kozak, who added the K1 500m title to her medals cabinet, while Germans Peter Kretschmer and Kurt Kuschela snatched victory in the men's 1,000m canoe pair.
Belgian track cyclist Gijs Van Hoecke was sent home from the Games after photographs appeared in British newspapers of him apparently drunk and being carried into a taxi after a night out in London.
In a doping case dating back to 2004, American time-trial cyclist Tyler Hamilton will officially be stripped of his Athens Olympic gold medal on Friday after he admitted to doping, a source at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said.
Retired Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov will move up to gold.
Attention began to turn to Sunday's Olympic closing ceremony, which will be titled "A Symphony of British Music" and feature a host of pop stars and some 4,000 local volunteers.
Music director David Arnold, who has devoted much of the last two years to the final act of the London 2012 Games, said he wanted it to be "the greatest after-party in the world".
George Michael, Ed Sheeran and Muse are among the acts who have leaked their participation ahead of time, and the music press is swirling with rumors that everyone from The Who to the Spice Girls, Madness or Adele could join them.
(Reporting by the Reuters Olympic team; editing by Ken Ferris)
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