U.S. shines in indoor athletics

Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva celebrates on the podium during the medal ceremony for the women's pole...

Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva celebrates on the podium during the medal ceremony for the women's pole vault at the 2012 IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships at the Atakoy Athletics Arena in Istanbul on March 11, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ADRIAN DENNIS

Alison Wildey, Reuters

, Last Updated: 2:26 PM ET

There were twists, turns and a back flip at the world indoor championships on Sunday but no world records, despite pole vault winner Yelena Isinbayeva’s best efforts.

Four-times champion Meseret Defar lost her 3,000 metres title to Kenyan Hellen Obiri and American hurdler Aries Merritt pulled off a surprise victory over China’s Liu Xiang as the U.S. dominated proceedings to finish top of the medal table with 10 golds for their best showing at the three-day championships.

Bernard Lagat gained some revenge for his defeat in last year’s world outdoors 5,000 final by beating Mo Farah in the men’s 3,000.

Briton Farah, one of the host nation’s best hopes for gold in this year’s London Olympics, finished fourth and was then promoted to bronze after Kenya’s Edwin Soi was disqualified for obstruction only to have the medal taken away again on appeal.

Two jumps - clearances at 4.70 metres and 4.80 - were enough to secure the title for Isinbayeva as she asserted her superiority in the pole vault to claim a fourth world indoor title.

The Olympic champion failed at an indoor world record of 5.01 but still got the crowd to raise the roof when she ended her competition with a celebratory back flip on the mat.

France’s Vanessa Boslak was second on countback from Britain’s Holly Bleasdale after both cleared 4.70.

“I was waiting for this victory like a mother is waiting to give birth to her baby,” Isinbayeva told reporters.

“It was very important for me. The last three years showed me how important it is for me to win. I am so happy as if it was the first time,” added the 29-year-old, whose struggles with form caused her to take a break from the sport in 2010.

American Lagat showed that with age comes experience as the 37-year-old master tactician timed his attack in the 3,000 final to perfection to win a third world indoor title.

With 150 metres to go Lagat hit the front and crossed the line in seven minutes 41.44 seconds. Kenyan Augustine Choge was second and Soi third 0.01 ahead of Farah, who made a desperate lunge for the line.

“It was all about tactics and speed and that proves again that you can’t take anything for granted,” Farah told reporters.

“The good thing is that this isn’t in the Olympics so it’s all a learning curve, (I have to) keep racing and working on my speed.”

A scorching last lap from Kenyan Obiri ended Defar’s hopes of becoming the first woman to win five successive world indoor titles.

The 22-year-old Obiri recorded a time of 8:37.16, a second ahead of the 2004 Olympic 5,000 champion.

“I am very disappointed and very sad,” Ethiopia’s Defar said. “The last 200 were very hard and I did not expect this. My feelings right now are very bad.”

LIU BEATEN

Another pre-race favourite who came off second best was Liu in the 60 hurdles. The 2004 Olympic high hurdles champion put his defeat to Merritt down to being in too much of a hurry.

“I knew Aries Merritt is a fast starter so I got out in a rush and wasn’t able to control my technique over the first hurdle. By the third one I felt there was no chance for me,” the Chinese said.

Earlier, Pamela Jelimo of Kenya had majestically pulled away on the final lap of the 800 to leave her rivals racing for the minor medals, winning in a world leading time of 1:58.83.

“It feels great to be a world champion, it is great to be at the top again,’ said Jelimo, who after becoming Kenya’s first female Olympic champion in 2008 struggled for form and did not race last year.

”These last three years with my injury were a disaster for me... but I did not give up and my coach motivated me a lot.“

Nataliya Lupu of Ukraine was second (1:59.67) with Erica Moore of the U.S. third (1:59.97). The men’s 800 was won by Ethiopia’s Mohammed Aman.

Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown left it late to retain her 60 title, coming through in the final few strides to win in 7.01 seconds - the fastest time of the year - and edge Murielle Ahoure into second. Former world outdoor long jump champion Tianna Madison was third for the U.S.

Greece’s Dimitrios Chondrokoukis cleared 2.33 metres to win the high jump on countback from Olympic champion Andrey Silnov of Russia.

Elsewhere in the jumps, though, the U.S. reigned supreme.

Brittney Reese became the first woman to win successive long jump titles when a championship record leap of 7.23 metres in the final round took her above compatriot Janay DeLoach (6.98).

Will Claye jumped seven centimetres further than his team mate and outdoor world champion Christian Taylor to take gold in the triple jump.

The Americans won the men’s 4x400 metres relay but Britain pulled off a shock in the women’s race when Perri Shakes-Drayton held off the U.S.’s individual champion Sanya Richards-Ross on the final leg.


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