Lagat upsets Ramzi to win 1500m title

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PLEASED AS PUNCH: Bernard Lagat is delighted after winning the men’s 1500m final on Wednesday.
PLEASED AS PUNCH: Bernard Lagat is delighted after winning the men’s 1500m final on Wednesday.

ATHLETICS / Perry retains 100m hurdles gold; Thomas leaps to glory

OSAKA: American Bernard Lagat upset defending champion Rashid Ramzi to scoop the World 1,500m title on Wednesday, while Britain pulled off a rare one-two in the women’s 400m.

Kenya-born Lagat, the Olympic silver medallist, scorched down the final straight to cross the line in 3 minutes 34.77 seconds to the dismay of a boxed-in Ramzi, Morocco-born but now running for Bahrain. Kenya’s Shedrack Kibet Korir was third.

“I executed my kick extremely well and that was the key to winning. Today was a perfect day. I have waited so long for that medal,” said Legat. “I feel very special.” Ramzi said he blew it tactically.

“I’m very disappointed. The shape was there but I failed tactically. I didn’t make my moves at the right time,” he said.

Boost for Britain

British athletics got a well-needed fillip with Christine Ohuruogu clocking 49.61 seconds to pip teammate Nicola Sanders on the line to win the 400m, with Jamaica’s Novlene Williams taking bronze.

It was Britain’s first ever women’s 400m gold.

“On the finish line I said ’Was it me?’ It is unbelievable,” said Ohuruogu, who recently completed a one-year drugs ban for missing three out-of-competition doping tests. “Never in my wildest dreams could I have thought of coming back after my ban as a World champion.”

Other gold medals went to Donald Thomas from the Bahamas who cleared 2.25 metres in the men’s high jump, while 39-year-old German Franka Dietzsch won her third world discus throw title.

Evergreen American Michelle Perry successfully defended her 100 metres hurdles title, leaning past Canada’s Perdita Felicien on the line to win in 12.46.

American World No. 1 and Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner coasted into Friday’s final of the men’s 400m in 44.34 seconds. His teammate Lashawn Merritt, who has warned he is after Wariner’s scalp, was the quickest qualifier in 44.31.

Wariner ran 43.50 at the Stockholm Super Grand Prix earlier this season to become the third fastest man in the 400m in history and mentor Michael Johnson’s world record of 43.18sec is in his sights.

“I went hard the first 300m and could settle down in the last 50,” said Wariner. “The way I feel right now, the final is going to be fun.”

In the absence of reigning world champion Tirunesh Dibaba, who pulled out on Tuesday with stomach cramps, Olympic champion and world-record holder Meseret Defar led the Ethiopian charge in the women’s 5,000m heats.

Defar produced a powerful sprint finish to win her heat ahead of compatriot Meselech Melkamu. Ethiopia-born Elvan Abeylegesse, who runs for Turkey and finished second to Dibaba in the 10,000m, won the other heat.

Women’s 100m champion Campbell was back in action in the 200m heats but said she was feeling the pace after winning her heat to qualify for the semi-finals in 22.5 seconds, ahead of arch-rival Torri Edwards of the United States.

America’s Sanya Richards was fastest in 22.31. Like Campbell, Tyson Gay is also after a sprint double and powered through his semi-final fastest in 20 seconds flat ahead of Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and fellow American Wallace Spreamon.

Earlier, China’s Liu Xiang burst onto the world championships stage with a solid 110m hurdles heat.

Liu, the undisputed favourite and one of the biggest draws here, ran through his race in 13.26 seconds to qualify for Thursday’s semifinals.

But his teammate Shi Dongpeng upstaged him, flying over the barriers in 13.22 seconds.

“This is a preliminary so there’s no need to run too fast,” said Liu. “I’m just trying to get to the finals, that’s my aim. I’m aiming for a range of about 13.10 to 13.30 for the preliminaries.” Liu was still quicker than France’s reigning world champion Ladji Doucoure (13.61) and US rival Terence Trammell, who won his heat in 13.41.

The results (all finals):

Women: 100m hurdles: 1. Michelle Perry (U.S.) 12.46s; 2. Perdita Felicien (Can) 12.49; 3. Delloreen Ennis-London (Jam) 12.50. Discus: 1. Franka Dietzsch (Ger) 66.61 mts; 2. Darya Pishchalnikova (Rus) 65.78; 3. Yarelis Barrios (Cub) 63.90.

400m: 1. Christine Ohurougu (GBr) 49.61s; 2. Nicola Sanders (GBr) 49.65; 3. Novlene Williams (Jam) 49.66. Men: High jump: 1. Donald Thomas (Bah) 2.35 mts; 2. Yaroslav Rybakov (Rus) 2.35; 3. Kyriakos Ioannou (Cyp) 2.35.

1500m: Bernard Lagat (U.S.) 3:34.77; Rashid Ramzi (Bah) 3:35.00; Shedrack Kibet Korir (Ken) 3:35.04.

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