Rio Olympics: Thursday's happenings

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Julio Cesar La Cruz celebrates Cuba's first gold medal in the light heavyweight division since 1980.

Rio de Janeiro — Taking a trip around the Rio Games:

Boxing: Cuba wins first light heavyweight title

Cuban boxer Julio Cesar La Cruz is the first Cuban to win a light heavyweight medal after defeating Kazakhstan’s Adilbek Niyazymbetov.

La Cruz, who secured Cuba’s first medal in the weight class since 1980, taunted and toyed with Niyazymbetov in the third round in his unanimous decision victory.

... American Shakur Stevenson reached the bantamweight final after his semifinal opponent, Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin, couldn’t fight because of an injury, marking the first time since 2004 that an American fighter will be in a gold medal match.

Taekwondo: Bracket takes a beating

The top two men’s seeds in taekwondo were knocked out of the fight for a gold medal.

Turkey’s defending Olympic champion Servet Tazegul lost to Russia’s Alexey Denisenko, 19-6, in the 68-kilogram quarterfinals.

Tazegul, who cruised through his first fight with a steady stream of spinning kicks that overwhelmed his opponent, couldn’t capitalize against Denisenko, who used an effective counter-attack.

South Korea’s LeeDae-Hoon, the second seed in the division, went out shortly afterward in a closely fought battle with Jordan’s Ahmad Abughaush. Abughaush scored early and never relinquished the lead.

Diving: Teenager continues China’s dominance

Fifteen-year-old Ren Qian captured another diving gold medal for China at the Rio Olympics.

The youngster turned in five brilliant dives in the women’s 10-meter platform to hold off her 17-year-old teammate, Si Yajie. Qian finished with 439.25 points, while Yajie settled for silver at 419.40 in a back-and-forth duel that wiped out any would-be contenders.

Canada’s Meaghan Benfeito grabbed bronze at 389.20

Qian claimed the sixth gold in seven diving events for the Chinese at the Rio Games.

If they can win the final event, men’s platform, it would match their best Olympic performance in history. China also won seven of eight events at Beijing in 2008.

Qian Ren claimed China's sixth gold medal in seven diving events. There is one event remaining.

Cycling: BMX champion eliminated, criticizes Rio’s course

Latvia’s two-time BMX gold medalist Maris Strombergs has raced in his last Summer Olympics, just missing the cut in a crash-filled quarterfinal round.

Strombergs’ coach Ivo Lakucs said the cycling had decided before the Olympics this would be his last one.

While other riders have praised the Rio course, Strombergs has been critical. He said the first straightaway was too narrow for racing.

Doping: First athlete loses medal; three others are disqualified

Kyrgyzstan weightlifter Izzat Artykov became the first athlete to be stripped of a Rio medal after a positive drug test (strychnine, a stimulant). He won bronze in the 69kg division.

... Chinese swimmer Chen Xinyi (diuretic) and Brazilian cyclist Kleber Ramos (blood-booster EPO) were disqualified after failing doping tests.

... Moldovian canoeist Serghei Tarnovschi was suspended after failing a pre-competition doping test. He won the bronze in the 1,000 meters canoe single.

Medal musings

The French women’s handball team secured its first Olympic medal, beating the Netherlands, 24-23, in the semifinals.

... Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze won the women’s 49erFX gold, Brazil’s only medal in the regatta.

News wire services