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Athletics | International

Bernard Lagat © Gallo Images

Isinbayeva, Lagat take gold



Yelena Isinbayeva put a three-year gold medal drought behind her by winning the pole vault Sunday at the world indoor championships with just two jumps.

The Russian set a world record of 5.01 metres last month and failed to improve that to 5.02 after ensuring gold. It was Isinbayeva's fourth indoor world title overall but her first in four years. Over the same period, she also lost her world outdoor title.

"I was waiting for this victory like a mother is waiting to give birth to her baby," Isinbayeva said. "The last three years showed me how important it is for me to win."

She won the title at the Atakoy Arena with a height of 4.80, which she cleared with the consummate ease she has so often showed during her career.

While other struggled, she covered herself in towels and waited. When her toughest competitors were tiring from earlier attempts she came in with one regal jump at 4.70 and later silenced all opposition with a winning vault with just as much grace, speed and power.

"I am not really surprised that I only needed two attempts, two jumps to win," Isinbayeva said after winning Russia's only gold of the championships.

With the feel of gold back on her lips after kissing the championship medal, she now goes for the defense of the most precious medal of all -the Olympic gold. She will be going for her third straight title in London, an unprecedented feat. No woman in track and field has managed to win three individual Olympic titles in three successive games.

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With Isinbayeva is back on track, Meseret Defar felt what it's like to lose.

The Ethiopian failed in her quest to become the first woman to win five straight world indoor titles when Hellen Obiri of Kenya came from behind on the final lap to win the women's 3 000 metres.

Defar took the lead halfway through the race and long looked like winning until her Kenyan rival appeared out of the blue on the outside. The Ethiopian champion still sought a final kick to go with Obiri, but she fell ever further back on the final straight.

"I didn't expect it. I am confused," Defar said.

Liu Xiang was another favourite that got beaten during the final session of the three-day event, coming up short in the 60 hurdles against Aries Merritt, who highlighted a banner championships for the United States.

In the absence of defending champion Dayron Robles, Liu was supposed to find an easy gold at the end of race, but was left chasing Merritt all the way.

The United States also got gold from Bernard Lagat in the 3 000, Will Claye in the triple jump, Brittney Reese in the long jump and the men's 4x400 relay team.

Lagat won his third 3 000 title, pushing free with 100 metres to go to beat Kenyan rivals Augustine Choge and Edwin Soi.

Favorite Mo Farah was supposed to make it a straightforward duel with the American, but he failed to get into the medals and finished fourth. The Briton beat Lagat in a stirring 5 000 finish at the world outdoor championships in August.

FINISHING KICK

And at 37, Lagat still has the finishing kick of runners half his age.

"It is not dying away," he said.

Lagat fully knew the Kenyans were going to make the race and refused to fall back and be surprised by a sudden breakaway. So when the final rush came, he was prepared.

"I am going to stay here because those guys are strong," Lagat said he thought to himself.

Britain got revenge on the Americans in the women's 4x400 relay. In the most exciting finish of the championships, 400 champion Sanya Richards-Ross came back from fourth place with 200 metres to go and missed gold by just .01 seconds when Perri Shakes-Drayton threw herself across the line first.

It was almost as close in the women's 60 metres when Veronica Campbell-Brown clawed back into the gold medal position in the final 10 metres to give Jamaica its first sprinting gold.

With a world leading 7.01 seconds, Campbell-Brown beat Murielle Ahoure of Ivory Coast by .03.

In the women's long jump, Reese jumped a championship record 7.23 metres on her last attempt to push American teammate Janay Deloach into the silver-medal position with 6.98. Shara Proctor took bronze with a British national record of 6.89 metres.

"I decided to get my confidence up and get the crowd involved," Reese said of her final attempt. "My coach told me to go and get it, and I went out and got it. I had to go out and bust the big one."

In the women's 800, 2008 Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo put years of physical problems behind her to take on the whole field from halfway and again became the front-runner she once was.

The Kenyan finished in a world leading 1 minute, 58.83 seconds to beat Nataliya Lupo of Ukraine and Erica Moore of the United States.

DAY 3 RESULTS (finals only)

Men's 800m
1. Mohammed Aman (ETH)
2. Jakub Holusa (CZE)
3. Andrew Osagie (GBR)

Men's 3 000m
1. Bernard Lagat (USA)
2. Augustine Choge (KEN)
3. Mohamed Farah (GBR)
12. Elroy Gelant (RSA)

Men's 60m hurdles
1. Aries Merritt (USA)
2. Liu Xiang (CHN)
3. Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (FRA)
7. Lehann Fourie (RSA)

Men's 4x400m relay
1. USA (Frankie Wright, Calvin Smith, Manteo Mitchell, Gil Roberts)
2. Great Britain
3. Trinidad and Tobago

Men's high jump
1. Dimitrios Chondrokoukis (GRE)
2. Andrey Silnov (RUS)
3. Ivan Ukhov (RUS)

Men's triple jump
1. Will Claye (USA)
2. Christian Taylor (USA)
3. Lyukman Adams (RUS)

Women's 60m
1. Veronica Campbell-Brown (JAM)
2. Murielle Ahoure (CIV)
3. Tianna Madison (USA)

Women's 800m
1. Pamela Jelimo (KEN)
2. Nataliia Lupu (UKR)
3. Erica Moore (USA)

Women's 3 000m
1. Hellen Onsando Obiri (KEN)
2. Meseret Defar (ETH)
3. Gelete Burka (ETH)

Women's 4x400m relay
1. Great Britain (Shana Cox, Nicola Sanders, Christine Ohuruogu, Perri Shakes-Drayton)
2. United States
3. Russia

Women's long jump
1. Brittney Reese (USA)
2. Janay Deloach (USA)
3. Shara Proctor (GBR)

Women's pole vault
1. Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS)
2. Vanessa Boslak (FRA)
3. Holly Bleasdale (GBR)



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