OSAKA, Japan &
Jeremy Wariner was his usual dominating self. Allyson Felix was just awesome.
When Wariner won the 400 meters in a personal best of time of 43.45 seconds and a margin of 0.51 over LaShawn Merritt to lead a U.S. sweep, it was almost a given.
For Felix there was still the thrill of new accomplishments. Felix had the largest margin of victory in the women's 200 in a major international competition since the 1948 Olympics, surging away from Jamaica's Veronica Campbell to win by 0.53 seconds. 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.
However, not all was well for the United States.
Bryan Clay's defense of his decathlon world title was over by the end of the first day because of a leg injury in the high jump.
At the end of the seventh day, the United States had twice as many titles as any other nation. It led with eight gold and 19 medals overall. Russia was second with four gold and 13 medals.
China has picked its gold medal hope for next year's Beijing Olympics, and Liu Xiang did not disappoint.
In the men's 110 hurdles, Liu showed why he is the Olympic champion and world record holder by winning China's first gold at the championships.
"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."
Running on the outside in the ninth lane, he had time to twice look to his left and see that competition was out of sight before crossing in 12.95 seconds. Terrence Trammell finished second in 12.99 ahead of U.S. teammate David Payne.
Days after skipping the 100 meters to concentrate on the 200, Felix had all the power her competitors lacked to surge down the home stretch and win a second straight world championship in the event.
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, who had won the 100, had the best start and kept ahead until halfway, but then the toil of eight races in six days caught up to her. Felix swept ahead 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.
Impassive as ever behind the shiny glasses, Wariner moved machine-like around Nagai stadium, steadily building his lead and closing in further on the 43.18 world record of 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," Wariner said.
With the sweep, the U.S team proved that barring a dropped baton, it will be as good as gold in the 1,600 relay Sunday, likely giving Wariner a second double in a row.
The 400 relay team didn't drop the baton, didn't run outside its lane and easily qualified for Saturday's final, when double sprint gold medalist Tyson Gay will run the anchor leg in his try for a third gold at Osaka.
Unlike the U.S. 1600 team, they will have competition. The U.S. team was easily beaten in its heat by Jamaica, anchored by world record holder Asafa Powell.
No problem, said U.S. 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."
Clay hurt his right quadriceps when he planted his foot for his second attempt in the high jump at 6 feet, 6&
190; inches, and slumped under the bar onto the mat. He limped away and never came back.
"He heard something pop," said his agent, Paul Doyle, adding the injury made it impossible for Clay to run the 400 meters.
With five events to go in the decathlon, 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.
In the women's triple jump, Cuba's Yargelis Savigne kept Russia's Tatyana Lebedeva from a jumping double by winning the multistep event with a season's best leap of 50-1&
190;. Lebedeva, who won gold in the long hump, registered a 49-51/2.
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 of 220 feet, with Germans winning silver and bronze.
Christina Obergfoll was next at 218-0, her second silver medal at consecutive world championships, and Olympic silver medalist Steffi Nerius was third at 211-4.
Wariner leads U.S. sweep of men's 400; Felix wins women's 200
OSAKA, Japan &