| 110m hurdles gold medallist Allen Johnson (right) celebrates with second-placed Terrence Tremmell at the world athletics championships in Paris on Saturday. (Reuters)
Paris, Aug. 30 (Reuters): American Allen Johnson became the most successful 110m hurdler in World Championships history when he won a fourth title in Paris on Saturday. Johnson, who also took the title in 1995, 1997 and 2001, won in 13.12 seconds.
His compatriot Terrence Tremmell was second in 13.20. Xiang Liu finished third in 13.23, to become China’s first male World Championship medallist in a track event.
American Greg Foster won the high hurdles title three times in succession from 1983 to 1991 and Britain’s world record holder Colin Jackson was champion in 1993 and 1999.
“It was hard. It’s not the best race I’ve ever run but it was good for first place,” Johnson, the 1996 Olympic champion, said.
Johnson’s victory was never in doubt. The 32-year-old led from the start, hurdling so low he skimmed the top of each of the 10 barriers.
“I got off balance over the first two hurdles and after that I did what I could to stay in front of Terrence. I hope there’ll be a fifth title in Helsinki in 2005,” he added.
Morocco’s Jaouad Gharib, running in only his second marathon, was the surprise winner of the men’s title. Gharib, who finished sixth on his marathon debut in Rotterdam in April, sprinted clear of Spain’s Julio Rey as the pair entered the Stade de France to win in two hours eight minutes and 31 seconds, a championship record.
Rey was second in 2:08.38 and former European champion Stefano Baldini of Italy, bronze medallist two years ago, was third again in 2:09.14.
Defending champion Gezahegne Abera of Ethiopia, the only man to simultaneously hold the world and Olympic titles, had dropped out of the race, run in cool, wet conditions, by 30 km.
Asked if he was surprised by his victory, Gharib said: “Not so much. I worked hard enough to deserve this.
“I trained very hard for this event. I was already runnerup at the half marathon World Championships so this is a big win.
“It’s a great honour for me to give Morocco another gold medal after Hicham El Guerrouj (in the 1,500m). He is an incredible athlete, gave me a lot of hope.”
Almost overlooked in the excitement on and off the track, Tirunesh Dibaba wrote the latest chapter in the Ethiopian success story with an unexpected win the in the women’s 5,000.
The 18-year-old world junior cross country champion denied her teammate Berhane Adere an unprecedented 5,000-10,000 double.
Dibaba won a tactical race in 14 minutes 51.72 seconds with 10,000 metres gold medallist Adere in 10th place.
Ethiopia are now third in the medals table with three golds, two silvers and a bronze. Their great African rivals Kenya have collected just one silver and a bronze.
Greece’s Mirela Manjani regained the women’s world javelin title, taking gold with the best throw in the world this year. The 1999 champion launched her fourth throw 66.52 metres, comfortably far enough to beat silver medallist Tatyana Shikolenko, who managed a best of 63.28. The Russian also won world silver four years ago.
“It was not easy to win here today. It took hard work to throw over 65 metres,” said the 26-year-old Manjani, who is originally from Albania but became a Greek citizen in 1997.
Manjani won Olympic silver in 2000 and said the pressure would be on her to go one better in front of her home fans in Athens next year.
Defending world champion and world record holder Osleidys Menendez from Cuba never threatened a repeat in Paris, a best of 62.19 only good enough for fifth. Germany’s Steffi Nerius won bronze with 62.70.
The Indian women’s relay team failed to qualify for the 4x400m finals. The Indian team of Kalpana Reddy, Geetha Satti, Sagardeep Kaur and Manjit Kaur finished last with a disappointing 3:42.25 seconds in the first heat on Saturday.
Top two teams from the two heats and the two fastest losers went through for the finals.
The Indians’ timing was also the poorest among the 11 teams in the two heats combined.
Jamaica’s Sandie Richards, Ronetta Smith, Michelle Burgher and Allison Beckford finished first in the heat featuring India in 3:26.22.
The British team of Helen Karagounis, Jennifer Meadows, Catherine Murphy and Lee McConnell clocked 3:26.44 to finish second.
In the second heat, Russia and Cameroon finished atop with timings of 3:27.97 and 3:29.40, respectively.
On a dramatic eighth day of the world championships, the US pulled Kelli White off the relay team after the double world sprint champion tested positive for a stimulant.
In her absence, 100 metres silver medallist Torri Edwards ran the final leg for the Americans but could not hold off Arron in the straight.