Sports

In Brief: Strong run sparks Aussie in Ironman

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii -- Chris McCormack of Australia rallied with a strong marathon run to win the Ironman Triathlon World Championship on Saturday.

McCormack was 11 minutes behind leader Torbjorn Sindballe of Denmark at the end of the 112-mile bicycle ride on the Big Island, which followed a 2.4-mile ocean swim.

But the Australian's fast run moved him to the front at the 15-mile mark of the 26.2-mile run. His total time was 8 hours, 15 minutes, 34 seconds.

McCormack, 34, crossed the finish line waving an Australian flag and dedicated his victory to his mother, who's stricken with breast cancer.

McCormack had never won in Hawaii. He finished second last year. Craig Alexander, also of Australia, finished second in 8:19:04.

Chrissie Wellington of Britain won the women's race in 9:10. She took the lead late in the bicycle ride and led throughout the run.

There was $560,000 in prize money with the first man and woman each earning $110,000.

Tennis

Venus Williams fell to Flavia Pennetta in the semifinals of the Bangkok Open, losing three set points in the Italian's 6-4, 7-6 (8) victory. Pennetta's aggressive play and strong serves left the No. 2-seeded American stunned on several points. The seventh-seeded Pennetta lost to Williams 6-2, 6-2 in a Korea Open semifinal two weeks ago.

"I just want to enjoy this moment," said Pennetta, who faces Chan Yung-jan in the final. "This is one of my most beautiful wins." ...

Serena Williams and Elena Dementieva advanced to the final of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. Williams beat top-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 (2), 6-1, and Dementieva eliminated fellow Russian Dinara Safina 6-1, 6-0. ...

Top-seeded James Blake lost in the Stockholm Open semifinals, a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (3) setback to Thomas Johansson of Sweden that ended the two-time defending champion's 13-match winning streak in the tournament. Johansson saved five match points in his last two service games, then beat Blake in the tiebreaker before a boisterous sellout crowd at the Royal Tennis Hall. Johansson faces Ivo Karlovic in today's final.

Soccer

Germany became the first team to qualify for the European Championship after a 0-0 draw against Ireland. Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann repeatedly denied Ireland in the second half, and the German defense cleared two Irish corners in the final seconds of injury time.

Volleyball

Fresno County Judge Alan Simpson reduced the damages awarded to a former Fresno State coach who sued the university for alleged sexual discrimination. Simpson cut the amount awarded to Lindy Vivas in July from $5.85 million to $4.52 million. Vivas alleged she was fired because of her advocacy for gender equity and perceived sexual orientation.

Rowing

The reigning world champions in eights racing, the U.S. women and Canada's men, overcame windy conditions to finish first in the USA Rowing World Challenge on the Oklahoma River. The event featured teams from nine nations and was touted as a preview for next year's Olympic Games in Beijing.

Rugby

-- Defending champion England advanced to the Rugby World Cup final by beating France 14-9 in Saint-Denis, France. South Africa will face Argentina today in the other semifinal.

Horse Racing

Bit of Whimsy raced to her first Grade 1 victory, rallying to beat Dreaming of Anna by 2¼ lengths in the $500,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland. Bit of Whimsey was ridden by Javier Castellano.

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