Sun, Sep 09, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Richards sets world mark in Weltklasse 400m event


US 400m runner Sanya Richards set a world record time in winning the Weltklasse Golden League meet on Friday, staying in the race for the million-dollar Golden League Jackpot.

US hurdler Michelle Perry's hopes of a share of the money ended when she finished third in the women's 100m hurdles. But Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva -- fresh from defending her world championship title at Osaka, Japan -- won her event and is the only other athlete still in the chase.

The jackpot will be split among athletes who win their selected event in all six Golden League meets.

Richards, who failed to qualify for her premiere event at the worlds in Osaka, won in 49.36 on the new Letzigrund track, which organizers billed as "the fastest in the world.''

World bronze medalist Novlene Williams of Jamaica was second in 50.85, while Senegal's Amy Mbacke Thiam was third in 50.95. Newly crowned world champion Christine Ohuruogu of Britain was fourth, 1.96 off the winning pace.

"I expected a fast race because I wanted to attack my personal best,'' Richards said. "Entering the final straight, I didn't know they were so far behind. It was mentally tough for me tonight but I was ready to pull out a great victory.''

After Zurich, the Golden League season continues with meets in Brussels and Berlin. If no athlete wins in all six meets, those with five victories are awarded a share of half the original prize -- US$500,000.

Despite her disappointment, Perry gamely hugged Swedish winner Susanna Kallur, who finished in 12.66. World bronze medalist Delloreen Ennis-London of Jamaica was second in 12.68. Perry finished third with the same time.

The victory offered a measure of redemption for Kallur, who finished out of the medals in Osaka.

Francis Obikwelu of Portugal won a depleted 100m race in 10.17, ahead of Britain's Marlon Devonish, who finished in 10.20.

Jaysuma Saidy Ndure of Norway was third in 10.20.

"I didn't start so well,'' Obikwelu said. "The victory was very important for me but I want to run against the top guys.''

Organizers saw their banner race fall apart after newly minted world champion Tyson Gay and silver medalist Derrick Atkins withdrew from the race, both citing tiredness.

The evening began with French athletes sweeping the first two major races after Osaka, where France failed to win a single event. The French collected just two silver medals at worlds, in the men's pole vault and the 50km race walk.

Two-time European champion Mehdi Baala won the 1,500m immediately before Christine Arron triumphed in the women's 100m.

Baala won with a pedestrian time of 3:38.62. Tarek Boukensa of Algeria was second in 3:38.84, while Daniel Kipchirchir Komen of Kenya was third in 3:38.96.

Baala was disqualified in the world championships 1,500m semi-finals for obstructing Moroccan Youssef Baba as they jostled for position down the home stretch.

"It was hard for me after Osaka,'' Baala said. "I came home and everybody was telling me `you are the best.' So it was very important for me to win today. "

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