Mario Lemieux was released yesterday from a Pittsburgh hospital after being admitted less than 24 hours before with a rapid heartbeat. The condition, known as atrial fibrillation, is commonly treated with medication and is not expected to end his career.

The 40-year-old Lemieux was "very happy, very relieved" upon hearing that his problem was not much more serious, according to Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Craig Patrick. Lemieux could be working out again within a week, after doctors determine how much medication he needs, and he could return to the ice soon after.

Lemieux, whose medical problems include a bout with cancer in 1993 and a rare bone infection in 1991, first noticed the irregular heartbeat this summer.

When his heart sped up following practice Wednesday, Lemieux went to a hospital and was hooked to a monitor. The spell lasted until about 3 a.m., allowing doctors to diagnose the problem.

Patrick has no timetable for Lemieux's return to game action, although the layoff is not expected to be lengthy. "The doctors said he could be working out in as soon as three days, but we'll monitor it and see how he's doing when he gets back," Patrick said.

* BASKETBALL: Maryland forward Crystal Langhorne was named USA Basketball female athlete of the year. Langhorne earned most valuable player honors after leading the USA under-19 team to a gold medal in last summer's world championship. Former winners of the award include Dawn Staley, Lisa Leslie, Chamique Holdsclaw and Cheryl Miller.

* COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Southern California running back Reggie Bush won the Walter Camp Award, making him the fifth USC player to earn the honor given to the nation's top player. He also won the Doak Walker Award, becoming the first Southern California player to be honored as the nation's top running back since the award was instituted in 1990. . . .

Minnesota center Greg Eslinger won the Outland Trophy as the nation's top lineman, becoming the first Gophers player to win the award since 1962. . . .

Texas safety Michael Huff won the Thorpe Award as the best defensive back in the country.

* SOCCER: Fifteen police officers were injured and 27 people were arrested during violence outside a stadium before and after an Italian Cup game. Officials said the 15 officers were not seriously injured.

* BIATHLON: Raphael Poiree of France won a World Cup biathlon in Hochfilzen, Austria.

* GOLF: Phillip Archer of England shot a 6-under-par 66 to take a one-stroke lead over Jarmo Sandelin of Sweden in the rain-marred first round of the Dunhill Championship in Nelspruit, South Africa.

-- From News Services