Sun, Aug 26, 2007 - Page 24 News List

Gay, Powell stroll through 100m heats, Kibet wins marathon

AP, OSAKA, Japan

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Tyson Gay planned to go slower. He couldn't.

Gay and world record holder Asafa Powell finished second in their heats in the first round of the 100m at the track and field world championships yesterday, both trying to conserve energy for the next rounds.

In the opening heat, Gay was slow out of the blocks and finished behind Japan's Nobuharu Asahara in 10.19 seconds -- his slowest time in competition this season.

It was the first time he's been beaten to the finish this year, yet it still was faster than he planned.

He said his goal was to run 10.30, so beating that mark was a surprise.

"The track would not allow me to do it," he said. "I could not really run slow."

Gay has his eyes on the gold today and Powell's record of 9.77 seconds.

Jamaica's Powell cruised after a fast start to cross in 10.34 seconds, behind Keston Bledman of Trinidad and Tobago. He left the stadium with his thumbs up.

Once Powell had used his strong start to cruise ahead, he kept on watching the stadium screen, making sure he would not have to use one stride too much in the sun and heat.

European champion Francis Obikwelu of Portugal was disqualified after a second false start in his heat.

Aside from Mark Jelks, who pulled up lame halfway through his heat with a right ankle injury -- more bad news for the US relay team already struggling with no-shows -- the sprinters generally thrived in hot conditions that made racing difficult for the distance runners.

In the first event of the nine-day program, Luke Kibet won the men's marathon by the biggest margin -- 79 seconds -- in the history of the championships.

Although when Kibet, a 24-year-old prison guard from Kenya, hit the tape drenched in sweat in 2 hours, 15 minutes and 59 seconds, he had just won the slowest major championships race at low altitude in 51 years, going back to the Melbourne Olympics.

Mubarak Hassan Shami of Qatar was second and Viktor Roethlin of Switzerland took bronze. The marathon is Japan's favorite event and failing to medal was a huge disappointment to the thousands lining Osaka's downtown streets.

"I wanted to get a medal today, the color would not be important," said Tsuyoshi Ogato, who was fifth.

The marathon, which started at 7am local time and finished in 33oC heat, was the first event of the program.

Carolina Kluft got off to a great start in the heptathlon, beating her personal best in the high jump and equaling her personal best in the 100m hurdles.

Kluft totaled 2,273 points, holding a big lead over Britain's Jessica Ennis with 2,222 points. Lyudmila Blonska of Ukraine, the season's top performer, has 2,219.

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