Tyson Gay joined an exclusive club on Saturday in Osaka, Japan, by becoming only the third man ever to win three gold medals at a single world championships, overshadowing Meseret Defar’s 5 000m victory.
The unstoppable 25-year-old American sprinter beat fatigue to run the third leg and drive his team to the 4x100m relay title in 37,78 seconds, giving him a trio of golds following victories in the 100m and 200m.
Only fellow Americans Carl Lewis (1983 and 1987) and Maurice Greene (1999) have achieved the feat before. ”It feels great because I look up to the others guys [Lewis and Greene],” said Gay. ”I didn’t come to the championships thinking about three gold medals. At the same time I think that’s why I got it accomplished, because I came here to have a good time.”
Darvis Patton got them off to a flying start with Wallace Spearmon running second and Leroy Dixon powering them home ahead of Jamaica and Britain.
The American women — Lauryn Williams, Allyson Felix, Mikele Barber and Torri Edwards — matched the exploits of the men, storming across the line in 41,98 seconds in their relay. Once again, Jamaica came second with Belgium third.
Ethiopia’s world 5 000m record-holder Defar also timed her sprint perfectly, kicking away with 200m left to cross the line in a slow 14 minutes and 57,91 seconds ahead of Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya in 14:58,50. Another Kenyan, Priscah Jepleting Cherono, was third in 14:59,21.
Olympic champion Defar went into the race as overwhelming favourite after teammate and defending champion Tirunesh Dibaba opted not to run after winning a draining 10 000m.
”Finally I’m the world champion. My tactics were to wait until the last two laps and then start my finish,” Defar said. ”I am the champion and that’s great. In Beijing [Olympics] I will run the 5 000m and maybe in future I will try the 10 000m.”
Czech star Roman Sebrle became the first man since British great Daley Thompson to hold the Olympic, European and world decathlon titles simultaneously. The 32-year-old world record holder came roaring back in the final two events — javelin and 1 500m — to overhaul Jamaica’s Maurice Smith and take gold with 8 676 points.
Smith had to settle for silver with 8 644 followed by Dmitriy Karpov of Kazakhstan on 8 586.
”This is the toughest of all my titles and very emotional. I did not have the shape I expected after the training camp but as it proved, decathlon is finished only after the last event,” said Sebrle.
Earlier, the world’s top 50km race walker Nathan Deakes added to his glittering collection, breaking down in tears as he crossed the finish line in three hours, 43 minutes and 53 seconds to win the world title. France’s Yohan Diniz was second in 3:44:22 with Italian Alex Schwazer timing 3:44:38 for his second consecutive world bronze medal.
”It’s a great feeling, records are to be broken, but nobody can take the world champion title away from you,” said an emotional Deakes. ”I will remember forever the feeling when I came into the stadium and it was clear I’m the champion. It was quite emotional. I think it was my 10th 50km, so great jubilation.”
Deakes led from 35km to clock his best time this season, although it was outside his 2006 world record of 3:36:04 minutes.
In the women’s 4x400m relay heats, the United States qualified for the final fastest in 3:23,37, with Russia second and Belarus third.
The American men, minus 400m winner Jeremy Wariner and silver medallist LaShawn Merrit who were resting, won their heat but were only fifth fastest overall. The Bahamas quartet was quickest followed by Jamaica. — Sapa-AFP