Wariner, Felix Peerless in Easy Victories

OSAKA, Japan -- Jeremy Wariner was his dominating self. Allyson Felix was just as awesome.

When Wariner won the 400 meters in a personal best of 43.45 seconds and a margin of .51 over LaShawn Merritt to lead a U.S. sweep, the result was almost a given.

For Felix there was still the thrill of the new. With the biggest margin of victory in a major international competition since the 1948 Olympics in the women's 200, Felix surged away from Jamaica's Veronica Campbell to win by a massive .53 margin. Her 21.81 was the fastest time in eight years.

"I have been waiting for so long to run such a time, to run under 22 seconds," Felix said.

It wasn't all America's day at the championships though. Running in the outside lane 9, Liu Xiang proved why he is the Olympic champion and world record holder and won China's first gold at the championships.

In an event where discipline is everything, he even took time to look to his left twice and see that competition was out of sight before crossing in 12.95 seconds. Terrence Trammell, a silver-medal specialist at major events, finished second in 12.99 ahead of U.S. teammate David Payne in third place.

China and its 1.3 billion population has picked a star for next year's Beijing Olympics, and Liu could not disappoint.

"I had to win the gold," Liu said. "Now I will have even more pressure than before. But this is something I will need to get over to keep going."

Days after skipping the 100 to concentrate on the 200 meters, Felix had all the power her competitors lacked in the straightaway and win a second successive world championships gold at the distance.

Her face intense with concentration, she let go of a big "yes" and broke into an immediate smile once she streaked across the line.

Campbell had to settle for silver after winning gold in the 100, the toil of 8 races in 6 days started weighing heavily on her after the bend. Felix swept away and, keeping her lithe body and elegant stride under control, won the United States' seventh gold medal of the meet.

Susanthika Jayasinghe of Sri Lanka won bronze in 22.63. Americans filled fourth and fifth places with Torri Edwards in 22.65 and Sanya Richards in 22.70.

Then came the 1-2-3 U.S. finish in the 400. Wariner held lane 6 with the two other U.S. runners focusing on him as an ideal target. None could get close though.

Impassive as ever behind the shiny glasses, Wariner moved mechanically like a cyber runner around the Nagai stadium, steadily building up his lead and closing in further on the 43.18 world record of his mentor Michael Johnson.

"All the goals I have for myself. I want to break the world record. I want to be the first to go sub-43," he said.

The medal sweep proved that, barring a dropped baton, the U.S. team will be as good as gold in the 1,600 relay on Sunday.

On Saturday, double sprint gold medalist Tyson Gay will be going for a third at Osaka. The 400 relay team didn't drop the baton, didn't run outside their lanes and easily qualified for Saturday's final when Gay will run the anchor leg.

The problem looming was clear though. In their heat, the U.S. team was easily beaten by Jamaica, anchored by world record holder Asafa Powell.

No problem, said relay member Wallace Spearmon. "If the Jamaicans say that they can beat the world record -- OK. They can beat it, but they will still be only second in the final."

At the end of the seventh day, the United States had twice as many titles as any other nation. It led with 8 gold and 19 medals overall. Russia was second with 4 gold and 13 medals.

Not all was well for the U.S. team though.

Bryan Clay's defense of the decathlon world title was over after four of 10 disciplines.

Clay hurt his right leg on his second attempt in the high jump at 2.00 meters, and slumped under the bar onto the mat. He limped away and did not come back.

"He heard something pop," his agent, Paul Doyle said. The injured quadriceps made it impossible for Clay to start the 400, the last of Friday's decathlon events.

With five to go, Jamaican Maurice Smith led with 4,525 points. Dmitriy Karpov of Kazakhstan was next at 4,439 and Czech Olympic champion Roman Sebrle had 4,434.

After failing to defend his 1,500 title and finishing with silver, Bahrain's Rachid Ramzi could not even make the final of the 800. He faltered badly and finished last in his semifinal. Favorite Yuri Borzakovsky easily won his semifinal to advance to Sunday's final.

While Clay and Ramzi had trouble in the stadium, it was a walk in the park earlier for two Russians.

Olga Kaniskina led a 1-2 finish in the women's 20-kilometer through the muggy parkland outside the Nagai stadium, keeping Russia in second place in the medal standings.

Behind her, 19-year-old Tatyana Shemyakina got silver.

Barbara Spotakova of the Czech Republic won the women's javelin title with a national record 67.07 meters, with two Germans filling silver and bronze positions.

Christina Obergfoll was next at 66.46, her second silver medal at consecutive world championships, and Olympic silver medalist Steffi Nerius was third at 64.42.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service


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