Sun, Aug 23, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Merritt, Felix dedicate gold to Owens

INSPIRED: Both Americans recalled black sprinter Jesse Owens, who won 100m, 200m, long jump and 4x100m golds at the Olympics in Nazi Germany 73 years ago

AFP , BERLIN

LaShawn Merritt celebrates after winning the men’s 400m final at the IAAF Athletics World Championships in Berlin on Friday.

PHOTO: AFP

US stars LaShawn Merritt and Allyson Felix dedicated the gold medals they won on Friday at the World Athletics Championships to the memory of compatriot Jesse Owens.

Olympic champion Merritt dethroned two-time defending world champion Jeremy Wariner in the 400m, while Felix picked up a hat-trick of world 200m titles.

The pair both said they were inspired by the spirit of black sprinter Owens, who won 100m, 200m, long jump and 4x100m gold medals at the Olympic Games in the capital of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany 73 years ago.

Felix, 23, clocked 22.02 seconds to beat Jamaica’s Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown as Merritt added world gold to his Beijing Olympics victory.

The American, who finished second at the Osaka 2007 worlds, clocked a world lead of 44.06 seconds over 400m, far off his Beijing Games time of 43.75 seconds, the fifth fastest time ever.

“This medal is for Jesse Owens, my family and my fans,” Merritt said. “I had run this race a million times in my head. Wariner is a great champion, but I really wanted it bad.”

Compatriot Wariner timed 44.60 seconds for silver, with Trinidad’s Renny Quow taking bronze in 45.02 seconds.

There was some consolation for Wariner, who also won world gold at Helsinki in 2005, in that he did not suffer a similarly large margin of defeat to Merritt as he had done at the Beijing Olympics.

Felix also said Owens’s memory had inspired her to victory.

“It’s really special to win a third world title. I wanted to do it in this stadium, represent my country and make Jesse Owens proud,” she said.

Newly crowned 1500m champion Yusuf Saad Kamel of Bahrain moved closer to repeating his father Billy Konchellah’s feat of winning the world 800m crown when he qualified for today’s final.

The Kenyan-born runner, who won 1500m gold on Wednesday, produced his trademark last-gasp burst of speed to nip in ahead of Russia’s former Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovsky at the line in 1minute, 45.01seconds.

The biggest cheer of the night around the Berlin stadium came when Germany’s Raul Spank cleared 2.32m to claim a share of bronze with Poland’s Sylwester Bednarek.

In the men’s 4x100m relay heats, reigning champions the US were disqualified.

The US were thrown out because of problems with the final handover from Shawn Crawford to Darvis Patton. The IAAF later rejected the team’s appeal over the disqualification.

Abel Kirui of Kenya won the men’s marathon yesterday.

On a sunny, mild day, the 27-year-old Kirui crossed the line at the Brandenburg Gate in 2 hours, 6 minutes, 54 seconds to set a world championships record.

Kenyan teammate Emmanuel Mutai took silver, 54 seconds back, to give Kenya a 1-2 finish. Tsegay Kebede of Ethiopia claimed the bronze, 1:41 off Kirui’s pace.

Defending champion Luke Kibet of Kenya did not compete in Berlin.

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