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Schippers wins 200 metres gold

Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands celebrates after winning the women's 200m final at the World Athletics Championships at the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing, Friday, Aug. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

BEIJING: Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers smashed a European record which has stood since the 1970s as she won world 200m gold with an electrifying run yesterday. The 100m silver-medallist ran 21.63sec, the fourth fastest time in history, as she lunged at the line to beat Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, who clocked a personal best of 21.66sec.

It was a remarkable win for Schippers, 23, who eclipsed the European record of 21.71sec set by Marita Koch in 1979 and matched by fellow East German Heike Drechsler in 1986. Only Americans Marion Jones and world record-holder Florence Griffith-Joyner have run the 200m faster than Schippers, who won hepathlon bronze at the Moscow worlds two years ago.

Two-time Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown, who previously won the world title in Daegu in 2011, claimed bronze in 21.97sec at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium. With Thompson on her inside, Schippers was chasing shadows coming off the bend in lane six and realising the Jamaican was marginally ahead of her, the Dutch athlete plugged away down the final straight.

Schippers caught the Jamaican and produced a savage dip at the line for victory before celebrating with family members in the stands. On a night when the United States was looking for five medals in the two sprint hurdle races at the world championships, only Aries Merritt delivered – a bronze for the kidney patient that should feel like gold.

The world-record holder will be flying home for a kidney transplant next week but he still outperformed his teammates in the 110-meter hurdles final, challenging Sergei Shubenkov to the end but finishing behind the Russian and silver medalist Hansle Parchment of Jamaica. “It means the world to me,” Merritt said. Defending champion David Oliver banged hard into two early hurdles and finished seventh. In the women’s 100 hurdles, the American team was thinking of a sweep.

In the end, they were swept off the podium, with 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson crashing in her heat and Kendra Harrison disqualified after a false start in the semifinals. In the final, defending champion Brianna Rollins banged into the first hurdle and never recovered. Danielle Williams gave Jamaica gold. In the marquee event at the Bird’s Nest yesterday.

Ashton Eaton excelled just as much in the decathlon as he returned following a two-year absence. In the last event of a superlative first day, he finished the 400 in 45.00 seconds, slashing .68 seconds off the world decathlon mark he shared with 1968 Olympic champion Bill Toomey.”It was all about having fun,” said Eaton, who won the opening 100 in a championship record 10.23 seconds.

Eaton leads after five events with 4,703 points, 173 points more than Damian Warner of Canada. Also, Tianna Bartoletta won her second long jump world title, 10 years after her first. The American took the lead for the first time in the final on her last attempt when she jumped 7.14 meters.

In the morning, China finally earned its first gold medal of the competition with Liu Hong leading a 1-2 finish ahead of teammate Lu Xiuzhi in the 20-kilometer walk. Despite the early start, tens of thousands of fans packed the stands at the Bird’s Nest to welcome home the walkers and cheer their first victory as the championships headed into the final weekend. – AP

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