Spirig wins women's triathlon gold at Olympics

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LONDON (AP) -- Nicola Spirig of Switzerland won the gold medal Saturday in a photo finish with a Swedish challenger at the Olympic triathlon. The end of the race was so close that both women celebrated after crossing the line.

Spirig held off Lisa Norden to claim gold in 1 hour, 59.48 seconds. The runners were given the same time, and Spirig was declared the winner after a few minutes of uncertainty.

Erin Densham of Australia took bronze on the course through Hyde Park in central London in 1:59.50.

Spirig initially pulled away from the other two in the last 50 meters and just held off a fast-finishing Norden for the gold.

All three medalists fell to the ground after crossing the line, exhausted by the late sprint for podium positions following two hours of lung-busting swimming, cycling and running.

Sarah Groff of the United States was fourth, with British home favorite Helen Jenkins, the reigning world champion, fifth.

Norden and Spirig were part of the leading group in the final transition to the run following a 1,500-meter swim and a 43-kilometer, or 26.7-mile, bike ride.

The pair stayed in the pack at the front throughout the 10-kilometer run. The competitors finished with four laps of the 2.5-kilometer course in the park and past landmarks like Buckingham Palace.

Thousands of spectators lined the route. Fans do not need tickets to watch triathlon events at the London Games.

Spirig appeared to have wrapped up victory 20 meters out, but Norden, grimacing with effort, chased down her opponent over the final few steps and missed stealing gold by the tiniest of margins.

Spirig's success was Switzerland's first medal of the games.

Top-ranked women's triathlete Andrea Hewitt of New Zealand was sixth, a little more than 36 seconds behind the winning time.