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A gold medal for the U.S. women's basketball team, another multimillion dollar loss for Ted Turner and a daunting challenge for New York City.

That's how the Goodwill Games ended Sunday after a 16-day run that was plagued by problems with venues and organization, low attendance and poor television ratings.Turner, the Games' founder, proclaimed the third edition of the event a resounding success and reaffirmed his commitment to keep the U.S.-Russian venture alive.

Asked to single out the main difficulty of the Games, Turner said, "I can't think of anything."

"Obviously if we could go back and get the ice ready one day earlier, we would do that," Turner said, referring to the ice-making problems which forced the rescheduling of the skating events - not to mention the murky water which caused a one-day postponement of the swimming competition.

"But I think that was very minor," he said. "It was a huge success in every way . . . It was a model of international cooperation and a very uplifting experience for all of us."

It was not uplifting in financial terms for Turner's cable TV empire, Turner Broadcasting System.

"I think we'll probably lose half of what we did last time," Jack Kelly, president of the Goodwill Games, told The Associated Press.

Considering that Turner lost $44 million on the 1990 Games in Seattle, these Games would account for a loss of $22 million - much higher than previously projected. The inaugural Games in 1986 in Moscow lost $26 million.

In addition, many of the venues were half empty and TV ratings in the United States (on TBS and ABC) were poor.

Despite all the troubles, the Games are set to be held in New York in 1998 and again in Russia in 2002 - possibly in Siberia. Kelly said Turner has even asked him to explore the possibility of holding Winter Goodwill Games.

"Ted hasn't set out just to do good things - he wants to continue to do good things," Kelly said. "Ted doesn't want to stop half way."

The same credo could apply to the U.S. women's basketball team, which crushed France 87-63 for its first gold medal in a major international event since the 1990 world championships.

Lisa Leslie led the Americans with 18 points, while Sheryl Swoopes added 14. Dawn Staley, Ruthie Bolton-Holifield and Shanda Berry had 11 points apiece.

The gold atoned for a disappointing bronze at the world championships in June, and also made up somewhat for the third-place finish of the U.S. men's team at the Goodwill Games.

"This is great for USA basketball at a time when lots of countries think they have surpassed us," Staley said. "This puts USA basketball back on the map."

China beat Russia 96-76 for the Goodwill bronze.

In other events Sunday:

- Russia's Vladimir Timoshinin won the men's 10-meter platform, followed by China's Wang Feng and Xu Hao. The top American was Russ Bertram in seventh.

- In rowing, a U.S. team won the men's 1,000-meter eights with Jonathan Brown, Donald Smith, Sean Hall, Fredric Honebein, Robert Kaehler, Jeffrey Klepacki, James Koven, Chip McKibben and Steven Segaloff.

- In gymnastics, a combined team of Belarus and Ukraine won the mixed competition, which consisted of men and women competing in separate apparatus events and adding the scores together. A U.S. team led by Shannon Miller was fourth.

- In an exhibition soccer game, coinciding with the closing ceremony, a Russian team beat a so-called world All-Star team 2-1.

Russia topped the medals table with 171, including 68 gold. The United States was second with 119, 37 gold.

The Goodwill Games was the first major sports event held in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the first ever staged in St. Petersburg.

"It's a wonder they put the whole thing together," said New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who attended the closing ceremony and accepted the "Goodwill Games staff" from St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak.

"As a person who's a CEO of a government, I can tell you what they did here is very very difficult to do. And they did it very well, with whatever glitches may have appeared."

At the closing ceremony before a near-capacity crowd at Kirov Stadium, capped by a fireworks display, Turner choked back tears as he listened to the hymn of the Games.

"The beauty of your city and the kindness and friendliness of your people have touched all our hearts," Turner said. "It is very clear the Russian people are champions and can do anything that they want to do."

St. Petersburg is even considering a bid for the Summer Olympics, possibly in 2004.

While the city would provide a beautiful backdrop for any event, Kelly said the Russians still have a bit to learn about getting things ready on time.