Mon, Aug 15, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Ethiopians sweep medals in 5,000m

WORLD ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS Tirunesh Dibaba won her second gold medal after winning the 10,000m in another sweep for the Ethiopians on the opening day

AP , HELSINKI, FINLAND

Gold medalist Tirunesh Dibada of Ethiopia celebrates after the women's 5,000m final at the World Athletics Championships in Helsinki, Finland on Saturday.

PHOTO: AFP

Teenager Tirunesh Dibaba clinched an unprecedented long-distance sweep, beating three compatriots in the 5,000m in a championship-record time of 14 minutes, 38.59 seconds -- the second Ethiopian rout in a week.

Lauryn Williams added the 400m relay to her 100m gold, and Dwight Phillips won his second straight long jump title Saturday, allowing the US to match its best showing ever at the World Athletics Championships.

On a day made for golden doubles, 110m hurdles champion Ladji Doucoure was the leadoff man in the 400m relay for the French team, which surprised Trinidad and Tobago for gold. Britain took its first medal, a bronze. The US was eliminated in the heats.

Morocco's Jaouad Gharib defied stomach pains but still successfully defended his marathon title with a burst of speed to leave the opposition trailing with about 12km to go.

Williams, who won the 100m on Monday, ran a blazing anchor leg to win her second gold medal of this year's competition.

"I was sort of hoping for two gold medals all the way through," she said.

With her hair tied up in Mickey Mouse ears to match the tattoo on her thigh, Williams got the baton first and never let Olympic champion Jamaica get close over the final stretch, finishing in a season's leading 41.78 seconds. Belarus took bronze. Last year, Williams dropped in the baton in the final at the Olympics.

"There was a little added pressure after last year's mishap. I just wanted to get it around," Williams said.

Allyson Felix, the 200 champion, also could have won her second gold, but the coaches decided to stay with the team that ran Friday's heats.

"Allyson had the option of running and she wasn't very comfortable as the first leg," Williams said. "No one is upset abut not being able to run the relays."

Victory pushed the US to 13 golds, matching the championship record it set in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1993. It has 24 overall, two shy of the record set in Tokyo 1991.

It could have been more had the men's sprint relay team not dropped the baton in Friday's heats. Even worse, the women's 1,600 relay team was disqualified in the heats Saturday for multiple lane infractions.

Phillips blew away all opposition on his first jump, matching his 8.60mpersonal record and the biggest jump in the world over the past five years.

It didn't matter his five other attempts were fouls.

"I am happy I was able to come out here tonight and dominate the field," the Olympic champion said. "I had a personal goal of mine to win four world championship medals. This is No. 2 so I have two more to go."

Next up is the world record of 8.95.

"I have promised Mike Powell to break it. In the following competitions that is the only thing I am concentrating on," Phillips said.

Ingenious Geisha of Ghana took silver and Tommi Evila gave Finland its first medal in the competition with a bronze.

"It's nice to get a medal after all these days without any," 17-year-old fan Lina Schiffer said.

The performance won the biggest cheer of all from the near-capacity crowd of 40,000 at the Olympic Stadium.

Russia was second in the medal standings with five golds and 15 overall, and the Ethiopian sweep pushed the African nation into third with three golds and eight overall.

With 300m to go, Dibaba and her teammates burst away from the pack. Meseret Defar kept up with Dibaba until the final 50m, but could not withstand the teenager's final acceleration.

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