Johnson avenges hurdles loss in Olympics

Posted: Friday, August 10, 2001

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Motivated by his failure to win a medal at last year's Olympics, Allen Johnson reclaimed his place atop the 110-meter hurdlers Thursday night, winning his third title at the World Championships.

Johnson, the 1995 and 1997 world champion and 1996 Olympic gold medalist, burst out of the blocks and maintained the lead throughout, holding off a late charge by Olympic champion Anier Garcia of Cuba.

Johnson, who has been plagued by hamstring injuries in recent years and finished fourth last year in defense of his Olympic title, banged seven of the 10 hurdles but still clocked 13.04 seconds, the fastest in the world this year. Garcia finished in 13.07.

''He was pushing me near the end, causing me to hit some hurdles,'' Johnson said. ''He almost got me.

''It feels very good. Coming in here I wasn't sure I could perform the way I did. It was tough. He is a great hurdler.''

After last year's disappointment at the Sydney Games, Johnson said, ''I want to get back on track and show I can beat everybody again.''

He did it Thursday night, but not with much to spare.

''I wanted this one extremely badly,'' Johnson said. ''I had so many disappointments the past couple of years, I felt like I had something to prove this time.''

Also blasting out of the blocks with her customary aggressiveness, Marion Jones powered her way into the final of the women's 200.

Jones, a two-time world champion at 100 meters but the second-place finisher at this meet, ending her streak of 42 consecutive victories in that event, still is seeking an elusive 200 world title. She is unbeaten in 26 straight 200 finals.

The final will be Friday night.

''One escaped me so far during the games and I'm going to do my darndest not to let this one slip away,'' said Jones, who was clocked in 22.40 in the semifinals.

At the 1999 worlds, Jones didn't get through the semifinals, pulling up with back spasms 70 meters from the finish.

LaTasha Jenkins and Kelli White also reached the eight-woman final, but defending champion Inger Miller did not. Troubled by injuries all season, Miller finished fourth in her semifinal heat.

In other finals, Australia's Dmitriy Markov won the men's pole vault with a championship record 19 feet, 10 1/4 inches; Olympic champion Konstadinos Kederis of Greece took the men's 200 at 20.04; and world record-holder Olimpiada Ivanova of Russia won the women's 20-kilometer walk with a meet-record 1:27:48. Ivanova finished second at the 1997 worlds, but was disqualified after failing a drug test.

A much-anticipated semifinal heat of the women's 5,000 including two-time defending champion Gabriela Szabo of Romania and Olga Yegorova of Russia went off without incident. For most of the race, Yegorova ran off Szabo's right shoulder before pulling ahead near the finish and placing second. Szabo, who had threatened to boycott the race, wound up fourth.

Gail Devers, seeking to become the winningest women's gold medalist in one event at the championships, cruised into the semifinals of the 100-meter hurdles.

The oft-injured Devers, chasing her fourth title, swept over the hurdles in 12.72 in winning her quarterfinal heat. In addition to her three hurdles titles, Devers has two golds from the 400 relay, making her the top women's gold medalist in championship history.

The 1993, 1995 and 1999 champion was joined in Friday's semifinals by heat winners Anjanette Kirkland and Jenny Adams, along with third-place finisher Donica Merriman.

Kirkland, the world indoor champion, had the fastest quarterfinal time, 12.69, a season's best, and Adams, the scourge of the European circuit with five straight victories, ran 12.80.

There were no entrants from Russia in the final of the men's pole vault, but former Russians finished 1-2 and Olympic champion Nick Hysong of the United States was third.

Only Sergei Bubka, who presented Markov with the gold medal, has vaulted higher than his former compatriot. After clearing his winning height, Markov missed three times at 20 feet.

''I'm not ready to break the world record yet,'' Markov said.

Aleksandr Averbukh, now competing for Israel, and Hysong both cleared 19-2 1/2, but Averbukh got the silver on fewer misses.

The 200 was a race devoid of many top stars, including 1999 champion Maurice Greene, 1997 winner Ato Boldon of Trinidad & Tobago, and 1993 champion Frankie Fredericks of Namibia.

Meanwhile, drug tests for the endurance-boosting hormone EPO at the championships resulted in one positive.

IAAF general secretary Istvan Gyulai said Thursday that six other athletes' out-of-competition urine tests showed no evidence of EPO use.

One of the six, he said, was Yegorova.

The name, gender, event and nationality of the athlete testing positive was not disclosed, pending a second sample test from the athlete.

Gyulai said the urine tests were administered after the athletes' blood tests showed elevated red blood cell counts, a possible indicator of EPO use.

Yegorova was suspended last Sunday after her urine test showed traces of EPO at a meet in Paris in July. The ban was lifted because her blood wasn't tested, too, as required by IAAF regulations.

Reinstating Yegorova triggered the boycott threat by Szabo, this year's 1,500 champion. Szabo later changed her mind and decided to run, saying she would not let Yegorova's presence deter her bid for a third title.

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