Wed, Aug 29, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Yelena Isinbayeva defends world championship title

AP , OSAKA, JAPAN

Yelena Isinbayeva made it back-to-back pole vault titles at the track and field world championships, needing only three attempts yesterday to secure the gold medal.

Isinbayeva easily cleared 4.65m when she entered the competition, then rejoined at 4.80m. She missed at her first attempt but regained first place with her next, perfectly executed vault.

She was attempting a world record. After a change of style, she has not improved the world mark since the 5.01m leap at the 2005 world championships in Helsinki.

Katerina Badurova of the Czech Republic was second at 4.75m on a countback from Svetlana Feofanova of Russia.

Kenya, meanwhile, turned its traditional domination into the first clean sweep of the championships.

Allowing for Kenyan-born two-time champion Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar runners from the African nation have won the last nine world titles.

This time Brimin Kipruto took the honors, with Ezekiel Kemboi earning silver for the second time in a row. Richard Kipkemboi Mateelong finished third.

Buoyed by that success, Janeth Jepkosgei led from start to finish to win the 800m with such poise, grace and speed, former world champion Maria Mutola just gave up with a grimace with 70m to go, unable to catch up.

Jepkosgei won in 1 minute, 56.04 seconds, the top time this season despite the evening temperatures of 30。C plus and high humidity. Morocco's Hasna Benhassi got silver and Spain's Mayte Martinez finished third.

In the 400m qualifying, another top favorite coasted just as easily in the muggy, overcast conditions. American Jeremy Wariner almost turned the end of his opening heat into a walk, slowly jogging over the line and stopping right after it while others were straining to get close.

"I felt good. Shut it down at the 250," said Wariner.

Even when almost at a standstill at the line, he still finished in 45.10 seconds, just 1.60 seconds outside his top time this year.

"It is that fast," he said of the Nagai Stadium track.

But is it fast enough for him to challenge the world record 43.18 set by his mentor Michael Johnson?

"I do not want to talk about the world record now," Wariner said.

The defending champion was joined by teammates LaShawn Merritt and Angelo Taylor in the next round of an event where the US is looking for a sweep of the medals.

Another defending champion, Michelle Perry, set the fastest time in the 100m hurdles to reach today's final with 12.55 where she was joined by Canada's Perdita Felicien and Sweden's Susanna Kallur.

Perry, the year's top performer, was brimming with confidence.

"The final is for me the duel between myself and the hurdles. We will be three from the US in there so why not a sweep," she said.

Kenya even overtook the US in the medal standings with 3 gold and 7 overall. The US team has 2 gold and 7 overall.

Ethiopia also has two gold would have counted on a medal from Tirunesh Dibaba in the 5,000m. But after winning the 10,000m despite stomach pains, she pulled out of the 5,000m, where she could have become a three-time champion.

It robbed the championships of one of the most anticipated duels, between Dibaba and her teammate, world record holder and archrival Meseret Defar.

With world record holder Defar and now Gelete Burka and Meselech Melkanu, Ethiopia is still hoping for a medal sweep.

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