Jones extends winning streak

LAUSANNE JULY 3. American Marion Jones, unbeaten this season, won the women's 100 metre race at the Athletissima Grand Prix athletics meet Tuesday, extending her season's winning streak to five victories.

Jones, who won an unprecedented five medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, clocked 11.05 seconds to beat Tayna Lawrence of Jamaica, .09 back. Bahamas' Debbie Ferguson was third in 11:20.

Mozambique's Maria Mutola smashed the season's best time in the women's 800 metres, clocking 1:56.26 in an explosive rematch between the Olympic and world championship podium finishers.

Mutola, the Olympic gold medalist in Sydney and Edmonton, slashed 1.37 seconds off the previous season's top time of 1:57.63 set by Slovenia's Jolanda Ceplak in May.

Former Nigerian Francis Obikwelu, who now races for Portugal, prevailed over a depleted men's 100-metre field, winning in 10.10. He also won the men's 200 metres in 20.26.

While Jones' time was unremarkable, particularly on a lightning-quick track that has always suited her, it was enough to give her a fourth 100-metre victory in Lausanne. Four years ago, she set the stadium record of 10.72.

But this time, a slight hiccup in the blocks with Lawrence in lane three prevented Jones from racing at her peak.

``At the start Tanya Lawrence and I hit hands and that threw my race off a little bit,'' the 26-year-old Jones said. ``But I won the race, not very fast, but considering I'll take it.''

Jones, a triple Olympic gold medallist in Sydney and double world 100 metre champion, has shown strong form this season, winning four other 100 metre races, including the U.S. championships and Golden League meet in Oslo last week. She won her fourth national title in the 100 earlier this year.

The American has been invincible in both sprints since finishing second to Zhanna Pintusevich-Block of Ukraine in the 100 final last summer at the world championships in Edmonton.

Jones will next race in Paris on Friday.

``Hopefully, I'll just continue my undefeated streak and continue to run fast,'' she said.

No challenge for Mutola

Mutola, who also set a meet record, was hardly challenged, crossing an impressive 1.72 ahead of her nearest rival, American Nicole Teter. Cuba's Zulia Calatayud was third in 1:58.51.

``I knew I was in good shape so I arrived here ready to do a good time,'' Mutola said.

In the absence of Olympic and world champion Maurice Greene and Ato Boldon, who both withdrew from the meet citing fatigue, Obikwelu beat out Americans Tim Montgomery, Bernard Williams and Joshua Johnson.

``I preferred not to run because I didn't want to disappoint the spectators in Lausanne,'' said Greene, who was in the stands during the meet. ``I was crowned U.S. champion for the third time. In Olso I was very tired and it was very cold.''

Greene will next race in Paris.

Obikwelu, who just acquired his Portuguese nationality this season, is now a favorite for the European championships in Munich in August.

Overcoming a clumsy start, Gail Devers recovered to set a season's world best as well as a stadium record in the women's 100 metre hurdles.

The 35-year-old veteran, unbeaten this season in the event, crossed in 12.40 seconds, shaving .11 seconds off the season's previous best time she set on June 23 in Stanford, California.

One of the all-time greats in women's hurdles, Devers bettered the Pontaise track record she set two years ago by .10.

A favorable but legal wind of 1.2 m/s was blowing through the small, intimate stadium.

``I slipped out of the starting block and everybody else was gone,'' Devers said after recording the fourth-best time of her career. ``I tried to attack and keep going. I had to run very fast to recover and I didn't realize I was so fast.

``The positive point is that I know I can run faster.''

Cuba's Anier Garcia set a world best in the men's 110 metre hurdles, crossing in 13.03 seconds, just .01 quicker than the previous top time set by American Allen Johnson in Fort de France back in April.

Kenya's Bernard Lagat recorded the fastest time of the season in the men's 1,500 metres, a whopping .78 quicker than the time he set by compatriot Noah Ngeny on May 15 in Doha.

``The hares set a really good pace,'' Lagat said. ``I'm really satisfied with way I ran and of course the time. I thought it was a fast race but not specifically a world best or anything like that.''

Another Kenyan, Benjamin Limo, set a world best time in the men's 3,000 metres, crossing in 7:36.02. That was a solid 1.51 faster than the previous world best set by compatriot Paul Bitok.

Osleidys Menedez of Cuba produced the longest javelin throw of the season at 67.40 metres (221 feet, 1 inch), .26 (10 inches) father than her own season's best set in Havana in early March.

Lorraine Fenton of Jamaica set another season's world best in the women's 400 metres, clocking 50.40, going .03 faster than the previous top time set by Australia's Michelle Collins.

Sweden's Kajsa Bergqvist, who lifted the bronze at the last Olympics and worlds, set a season's best in the high jump, leaping 2.06 metres (6-9). It also marked a meet record. The previous best jump this season was 2 metres (6-6 3/4).Ezekiel Kemboi won the 3,000 metre steeplechase in 8:10.32, leading a seven-Kenyan sweep.

— AP

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