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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, March 14, 2010

Track and field: Isinbayeva loses, Lagat wins at indoor worlds


RAF CASERT
AP Sports Writer

DOHA, Qatar Pole vault world-record holder Yelena Isinbayeva came up short at a second straight major meet, finishing out of the medals Sunday at a world indoor championships highlighted by Teddy Tamgho's world record in the triple jump and Bernard Lagat's victory in the 3,000 meters.

The championships ended on a high note when France's Tamgho leaped 58 feet, 8 inches on his last attempt to beat Cuba's Yoandris Betanzos. Christian Olsson of Sweden and Aliecer Urrutia of Cuba shared the previous mark of 58-6.

The results of Isinbayeva and Lagat also reflected their nation's success, with the United States riding high with eight gold and 17 overall medals, while Russia had two gold and nine medals.

Isinbayeva, also the Olympic champion, failed three times at 15-7 and was out after only managing to clear 15-1, well off her world indoor record of 16-4. She also holds the outdoor record of 16-7.

Fabiana Murer and Russia's Svetlana Feofanova both cleared 15-9, but the Brazilian took gold on a countback.

Isinbayeva suffered her first major loss at the Berlin world outdoor championships last summer when she failed to clear a height and had counted on bouncing back in Doha, where she was the three-time defending champion.

The 27-year-old said she needs to reassess her future after dominating her sport for more than half a decade.

"It's some difficulties I have to step over again," she said. "Maybe after Berlin, I didn't analyze well. Maybe it was just mental problems. Maybe I'm tired a little bit mentally.

"All the time I feel pressure. All the time I feel like I have to be the best, win the medals."

Even the outdoor season looks uncertain.

"If I would need rest, maybe I will pass the whole season," she said.

The 35-year-old Lagat knows that a comeback is always around the corner. He seemed on the way out after a poor showing at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, but bounced back Sunday to claim his first global gold since his world outdoor 1,500-5,000 double in 2007.

Lagat did it with a perfect tactical race. He hung back in the pack, then ran on the shoulder of defending champion Tariku Bekele for a few laps before making his move with a devastating kick some 250 yards from the line.

"That last lap was like: I'm taking it home baby," he said.

His kids got up especially early back in the United States to see daddy run.

"I needed to show them something," he said.

The gold gave him enough of a kick to continue until the 2012 Olympics in London.

"You'll be seeing more of me for a long time," he said. "I can see myself running longer than even I imagine."

Lagat finished in his season's best of 7 minutes, 37.97 seconds, for a big 1.58-second gap over Sergio Sanchez of Spain. Sanchez also overtook Bekele to claim silver and Kenya's Sammy Alex Mutahi was third.

Lagat put the United States on a roll with the first gold of the day. Soon Brittney Reese added the indoor long jump title to her outdoor world title when she leaped 21-11 to edge defending champion Naide Gomes by an inch. Both U.S. men's and women's relays also took gold.

There were setbacks, too. Olympic champion Dayron Robles of Cuba won the 60-meter hurdles, edging favorite Terrence Trammell at the line.

Defending champion Liu Xiang of China finished seventh, still suffering from an ankle injury that has hampered him over the past two years and kept him out of the Beijing Olympics.

Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown added an indoor title to her two Olympic 200 golds when she surprised everyone by setting a personal best of 7.0 seconds to win the 60 ahead of LaVerne Jones-Ferrette and American champion Carmelita Jeter.

But the Americans were on top in the women's 1,600 relay, denying Russia a victory in an event it had won every time since 1993. Anchor Allyson Felix received the baton in the lead and used her seemingly effortless stride to stay ahead and break the Russian stranglehold.

It also was a day for youth to shine. The 20-year-old Tamgho was second after his first jump, and everyone seemed to have conceded the gold to Betanzos. Tamgho thought otherwise and he set the crowd alight with his stunning world record.

The junior world champion's previous best was 57-8.

In the women's 3,000, 18-year-old Kalkidan Gezahegne of Ethiopia emerged from the shadows of defending champion and compatriot Gelete Burka to become the youngest female world indoor champion.

When everyone was expecting Burka, it was Gezahegne who had the strongest kick to claim the title. Burka faded to third as Spain's Natalia Rodriguez nipped her for silver at the line.