By Mark Trevelyan
LONDON (Reuters) - Jamaica will seek to extend its sprint dominance at London 2012 on Wednesday when Usain Bolt sets out to book his place in the men's 200 metre final and Veronica Campbell-Brown attempts to become the first woman to win three golds at that distance.
On Day 12 of competition, the United States is guaranteed gold in an all-American women's beach volleyball final, and China looks set for a clean sweep of table tennis medals.
China extended the gap at the top of the medals table on Tuesday, leading the Americans by 34 golds to 30, while third-placed Britain advanced to 22, its best haul for more than a century.
On a cold, wet night at the Olympic Stadium, Taoufik Makhloufi ran a scorching last lap to take gold for Algeria in the 1,500 metres and attributed his victory to "the will of God", a day after dropping out of an 800m heat with what his team said was a knee injury.
Makhloufi had been disqualified from the 1,500 final for not trying in his heat at the shorter distance, but was reinstated on the eve of the race thanks to a medical report.
Evidence provided by two doctors said "the athlete suffered from a painful injury, which however, with appropriate treatment, may allow him to compete in 24 hours."
Showing no ill effects, Makhloufi broke away on the back straight of the final lap and accelerated around the last bend to win comfortably from American Leonel Manzano and Moroccan Abdalaati Iguider.
"It's the will of God. Yesterday I was out, today I'm in," Mahkloufi told reporters. "This is a gift for the Algerian people and for the whole of the Arabic world."
Injury also struck China's Liu Xiang, who left the Olympic stadium in a wheelchair after hitting the first barrier in a 110 metres hurdles heat.
Liu suffered a cruel echo of his early exit from Beijing four years ago, and indications were that it was the same Achilles injury that led to his fall on a cool, cloudy morning in London.
In his absence, Cuba's defending Olympic champion Dayron Robles and American Aries Merritt should fight it out for 110 metres hurdles gold in Wednesday's final.
After Jamaican 100m golds for Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Campbell-Brown, who took bronze in the 100 on Saturday, lines up in the 200 against three-times world champion Allyson Felix of the United States, whom she beat into silver at the last two Games.
Also in the field are Fraser-Pryce, Olympic 400 champion Sanya Richards-Ross and 100 silver medallist Carmelita Jeter.
The Jamaicans' success -- including a 100m silver for Bolt's training partner Yohan Blake -- has sparked wild celebrations back home in the week that the Caribbean nation marks 50 years of independence from Britain.
Bolt, running in the 200m semi-final on Wednesday, says he will take to the stadium the skipping rope he uses for training, after complaining about "weird rules" when it was confiscated from him on the way to the 100 metres final.
"I am going to do it tomorrow ... I am going to stick it under my bag, bottom of my bag or something," he told reporters.
The gangly sprinter is seeking to secure an unprecedented double-double -- 100 and 200 golds at successive Games.
In other action on Tuesday, Australia's Sally Pearson won the women's 100m hurdles by two-hundredths of a second from defending champion Dawn Harper of the United States. Unsure of the outcome, she let out a scream of delight when the scoreboard confirmed her victory.
Shaggy-haired Ivan Ukhov won gold in the men's high jump for Russia, which also celebrated victories in diving and synchronised swimming as it edged up to fifth in the medals table after a disappointing Games so far.
The man with one of the longest names at the Games showed that he was also the strongest: Iranian Behdad Salimikordasiabi -- Salimi for short -- took gold in the superheavyweight class of the weightlifting.
Iran took the silver for good measure, along with a wrestling gold. And the Islamic state captured its first ever athletics medal when Ehsan Hadadi hurled the discus 68.18 metres to win silver.
He fell just 9 cm short of German winner Robert Harting, who delighted the crowd with a lap of honour in which he vaulted over the hurdles laid out for the women's 100m race.
Britain's horse riders celebrated gold in the dressage and Alistair Brownlee won the triathlon, in which his younger brother Jonathan took bronze.
There were more home wins in cycling for Laura Trott and Chris Hoy, who became Britain's most successful Olympian with seven medals, six of them gold. Victoria Pendleton, favourite to prevail in the individual sprint, lost out to Australian arch rival Anna Meares.
China picked up two more gymnastics golds but 'Flying Dutchman' Epke Zonderland caused an upset by claiming the horizontal bar title ahead of Chinese favourite Zou Kai, who could only manage bronze.
American Aly Raisman won the women's floor exercise title, 90 minutes after earning a bronze on the beam.
Russia's Ilya Zakharov scored a surprise triumph in the men's 3 metre springboard diving final, ruining China's ambition of an eight-gold sweep in the sport.
Competing at her eighth Olympics, 47-year-old Italian Josefa Idem powered past a field of 20- and 30-year-olds to make the kayaking final.
She is bidding on Thursday to add to her gold from Sydney (2000), two silvers from Beijing (2008) and Athens (2004) and bronzes from Atlanta (1996) and Los Angeles (1984).
"I don't care about age," a smiling Idem told reporters. "The stopwatch doesn't ask."
(Additional reporting by the Reuters Olympic team; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)