Tue, Aug 25, 2009 - Page 20 News List

With Usain Bolt finished, American athletes shine

AP , BERLIN

US athlete Brittney Reese competes in the women’s long jump final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Berlin on Sunday.

PHOTO: AFP

With Usain Bolt no longer running on the final day of the championships, the US finally took over.

With gold medals from the men’s and women’s 4x400m relay teams and another from Brittney Reese in the women’s long jump, the US edged Jamaica to become the most dominant nation of the IAAF World Athletics Championships.

A second gold medal for relay runners LaShawn Merritt, Kerron Clement, Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards finally broke the tie with Jamaica, which only added one silver on Sunday.

The breakthrough came in the women’s relay, where Richards and Felix were too good for an out-of-breath Jamaican team.

Merritt followed it up by anchoring the US men’s team to victory.

“Championships are all about getting the medal,” said the men’s 400m champion, who won the same two golds as at the Beijing Olympics last year.

In the final medal standings, the US had 10 golds and 22 overall, with Jamaica second with seven gold and 13 overall.

“We did an awesome job,” Jamaican relay runner Novlene Williams-Mills said after collecting silver in the women’s 4x400m. “It’s nice to bring Jamaica the last medal of the championships.”

Bolt won three gold medals in Berlin, cementing him as by far the biggest star of the championships after he set stunning world records to claim the 100m and 200m titles and also won the 4x100m relay. He had an explanation of why an island nation of 2.8 million could challenge the US team in the medal standings.

“We’re determined, that’s why we’re so good,” Bolt said. “And Jamaica is wonderful.”

The US also got a surprise individual gold from Reese in the woman’s long jump. She beat defending champion Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia with a jump of 7.10m. Reese’s victory came one day after American teammate Dwight Phillips won the men’s long jump.

Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia also got his double, edging defending champ Bernard Lagat in a tight 5,000m decided by the Olympic champion’s famed finishing kick.

He won both 5,000m and 10,000m races at the Beijing Olympics and extended his reign after first containing a Kenyan challenge in mid-race before withstanding a desperate sprint finish of Lagat.

Rarely has Bekele been so obviously elated, slapping his chest with an open hand and showing a beaming smile.

“It was a very hard race,” Bekele said after becoming the first Ethiopian man to win a 5,000m world championship gold. “I’ll never forget this race.”

The last year has been incredibly successful for him, Bekele said.

“I never made a double in the Olympics and world championships,” he said. “I’m so happy.”

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