Jeremy Wariner of the US, centre crosses the line ahead of Christopher Brown of the Bahamas, left, and Davian Clarke of Jamaica, to win the final leg of the Men's 4x400 meters relay at the World Athletics Championships in Helsinki, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2005. Bahamas took the silver medal and Jamaica the bronze.
AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus
HELSINKI, Finland Fittingly, the last event of the world track and field championships went to the Americans.
The 1,600-meter relay team, anchored by 21-year-old Jeremy Wariner, raced to victory Sunday night, a record 14th gold medal for the United States in the nine-day competition.
''I was fortunate to have a great bunch of guys running with me,'' Wariner said. ''Each leg put each other in a great position. Getting the stick around was our main goal.''
The four carried a big U.S. flag in celebration, each waving smaller Finnish flags to show thanks to the near-capacity crowd.
Wariner was the right one to top off America's big show in Helsinki. Of all the rising young U.S. track stars, he is the most impressive.
In successive years, the smooth-running, soft-spoken Texan has won the 400 meters at the Olympics and the world championships, and has been part of the victorious 1,600-meter relay teams in both as well.
''I feel real confident,'' he said. ''I came into this meet and ran a great open race, and a great relay. I can just improve from that over the rest of the year.''
The team of Andrew Rock, Derrick Brew, Darold Williamson and Wariner won in 2 minutes, 56.91 seconds. The Bahamas was second at 2:57.32, followed by Jamaica in 2:58.07.
The U.S. gold haul surpassed the previous record of 13 set at the 1993 world championships in Stuttgart, Germany. With two botched relays, the Americans still wound up with 25 medals overall, one shy of the record 26 they won at the 1991 worlds in Tokyo.
''Normally, you might have a letdown after an Olympic games,'' said Craig Masback, executive director of USA Track & Field. ''But you had a group of young athletes that are so exuberant that they want to do better each year.''
Two years ago at the worlds in Paris, the United States won 17 medals, eight of them gold.
The relay provided the Americans with their only chance to shine on a gorgeous final evening of a meet often marred by rain and wind at the cozy, 40,000-seat Olympic Stadium, where the Helsinki Olympics were held in 1952.
The day's events began with a race of atonement for Britain's Paula Radcliffe, who led almost from the start to win the marathon, the first worldwide triumph for the world record holder.
Radcliffe said she was ready for this one after failing to finish the marathon last year at the Athens Olympics.
''This year was totally different,'' she said, ''because I came in very strong and knowing that I was in good shape.''
It was the Brits' lone gold of the meet.
Osleidys Menendez of Cuba was the third to set a world record at the meet, breaking her own javelin mark with a heave of 235 feet, 3 inches on her first attempt. She set the old mark of 234-8 in 2001. The meet's other world marks were by Russians Yelena Isinbayeva in the pole vault and Olimpiada Ivanova in the 20-kilometer walk.
Russia had a big final day to finish second in the medals competition with 20, seven gold.
Russian women went 1-2 in the 1,500, defending champion Tatyana Tomashova beating Olga Yegorova for the gold. The Russians appeared to have a sweep, but second-place finisher Yuliya Chizhenko was disqualified for obstruction after a protest was filed by Bahrain.
In the absence of the United States, the women's 1,600-meter relay was won by Russia in 3:20.95.
Both of those relays had been considered automatic medals for the Americans if they could safely get the baton around the track.
Olympic silver medalist Matt Hemingway of the United States made an early exit from the high jump, won by Yuriy Krymarenko of Ukraine on his final attempt, an exceedingly low winning height of 7-7 1/4.
Kenya, usually a distance-running powerhouse, earned its lone gold medal of the meet when Benjamin Limo outsprinted 10,000-meter silver medalist Sileshi Sihine of Ethiopia to win the 5,000 in a slow 13:22.55. Kenenisa Bekele, the 5,000 and 10,000 world record holder and 10,000 winner in Helsinki, elected not run in Sunday's' race.
That cleared the way for an elated Limo.
''My son was born on Monday,'' Limo said, ''and it is obvious that I will name him 'Helsinki.'''
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