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(Daegu Athletics) Jamaica sets world record, U.S. tops in gold medals as world championships end

All Headlines 22:50 September 04, 2011

By Yoo Jee-ho

DAEGU, Sept. 4 (Yonhap) -- Jamaica set the first world record of this year's World Championships in Athletics here, but the U.S. got the last laugh in the medal standings as the biennial competition came to a close Sunday.

A day after wowing the crowd with a resounding victory in the men's 200 meters, Usain Bolt of Jamaica was back to his usual, dominant self.

In the men's 4x100-meter relay, the finale on the last day of the championships, Bolt anchored Jamaica to the world record time of 37.04 seconds. France was a distant second at 38.20, and Saint Kitts and Nevis was third at 38.49.

Jamaica had held the previous world mark of 37.10, set at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

It was the first world record of these championships, and provided an electrifying finale before the packed house of more than 34,000 at Daegu Stadium.

Jamaica opened a big lead when Yohan Blake, the 100-meter champion here, sprinted out in front over the turn before handing the baton over to Bolt. Normally a third runner in relays, Bolt assumed the anchor duty with Asafa Powell out with a groin injury.

And Bolt more than lived up to the hype. Almost the moment he got the baton, the race was over. And as he did in the 200 meters, Bolt gritted his teeth all the way to the finish for the world record.

"For me, it was just to go out there fast," Bolt said. "We did just that. I am proud of my team. I am happy with myself."

Bolt said aside from Powell's injury, lingering effects of his own Achilles' tendon problems from a year put him in the anchor spot, which only requires straightaway sprinting toward the finish.

"I enjoyed being the anchor," Bolt said. "I had a little problem with my Achilles. I can't run the bend. Yohan Blake ran a great bend. I am happy with that."

The U.S. team, expected to push Jamaica, couldn't finish the race, after its third runner, Darvis Patton, stumbled over the turn and failed to get the baton to the anchor, Walter Dix.

Moments before Jamaica's victory, the U.S. did take the women's 4x100-meter relay for the second time in the past three championships.

Anchoring the relay, Carmelita Jeter won her second gold, following her 100-meter victory. For Allyson Felix, who ran the second leg, it was her third medal in Daegu, on top of her silver in the 400 meters and bronze in the 200 meters.

"I am blessed and fortunate to be on the team with the ladies," Jeter said. "I had to bring it home safe (as the anchor). In 2012 (at the London Olympics), I am sure we will be great there also."

The U.S. closed with 12 gold medals, leading the world championships in gold for the fifth straight time. Russia added two titles Sunday to get to nine gold medals.

Russia's first gold of the day came from the women's hammer throw, where Tatyana Lysenko beat the world record holder Betty Heidler of Germany with 77.13 meters. Heidler, also the 2007 world champ, struggled early but got to 76.06 meters in her second-to-last attempt to take silver.

It was a redemption of sorts for Lysenko, who once had her world record nullified following a two-year drug suspension. She later said the key was to block out what her rivals were doing.

"I expected very far attempts also from other girls in the final, but I was just focused on myself," Lysenko said. "I think that after my suspension, I came back stronger."

Mariya Savinova gave Russia its ninth gold, beating defending champion Caster Semenya of South Africa in the women's 800 meters in 1:55.87. Semenya surged from the pack to take the lead over the final turn in the two-lap race, but Savinova, last year's European champ, sprinted past the South African over the final 50 meters.

Semenya failed to defend her crown but said she was happier this time than two years ago. Questions about her sex first emerged in Berlin, owing to her muscular build and sudden, unexpected rise to the top. She was once kept out of competition for 11 months following gender verification tests.

With the controversy behind her, Semenya, who had spent the entire championships brushing off reporters, finally flashed a smile after crossing the finish line and again on the medal podium.

"Even though I got a silver, I really enjoyed it, better than two years ago," she said. "I achieved what I wanted, which was to get back to the podium. I don't talk about the past. I am still young and I have to focus on the future."

Mohamed Farah of Britain also had much to smile about, winning the men's 5,000-meter title at 13:23.36, adding to the silver he'd earlier won in the 10,000 meters.

Imane Merga of Ethiopia came in third place but was later disqualified for running outside the track, and his compatriot Dejen Gebremeskel moved to bronze medal. It would have been Merga's second bronze, after the third-place finish in the 10,000.

Bernard Lagat of the U.S. got his second consecutive gold in the 5,000, coming up just 0.28 seconds shy of Farah despite his final spurt.

Another Briton, Phillips Idowu, was upset in the men's triple jump. After Idowu, the defending champ, took the early lead with 17.56 meters in his first try, Taylor, 21, threw down the gauntlet with 17.96 meters, the farthest by anyone this year, in his fourth attempt.

Idowu got to 17.77 meters in his fourth try, but couldn't get past the American in his remaining two tries. No man has won back-to-back world titles.

Earlier Sunday, Kenya's Abel Kirui defended his marathon world title with 2:07:38, beating compatriot Vincent Kipruto by almost three minutes.

Jeong Jin-hyeok was the top South Korean in 23rd place at 2:17:04. The host finished sixth in the unofficial team event, which combines the three fastest individual times for each country.

In the first round of the men's 4x100-meter relay, South Korea set a national record but still couldn't qualify for the final. The team of Yeo Ho-suah, Cho Kyu-won, Kim Kuk-young and Lim Hee-nam came in at 38.94 seconds, shedding their previous mark by one-tenth of a second.

This was the fourth South Korean record at these championships, but the relay team ended fifth in its heat and couldn't make the final. The women's team in the 4x100-meter relay also didn't reach the final after finishing sixth in the heat.


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