Kenya claims first gold in Japan

Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell finished second in their heats in the first round of th 100m at the track and field world championships on Saturday.

updated: August 27, 2007 07:08 IST
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Osaka, Japan:

Tyson Gay planned to go slower. He just couldn't.

Gay and world record holder Asafa Powell finished second in their heats in the first round of the 100 meters at the track and field world championships on Saturday, both trying to conserve energy for the next rounds.

In the opening heat, Gay was slow out of the blocks and finished behind Japan's Nobuharu Asahara in 10.19 seconds - his slowest time in competition this season.

It was the first time he's been beaten to the finish, yet it still was faster than he planned.

He said his goal was to run 10.30, so beating that mark was a surprise.

"The track would not allow me to do it," he said. "I could not really run slow."

Gay has his eyes on the gold on Sunday and Powell's record of 9.77. The second round of heats are set for late Saturday. Semifinals and final are on Sunday.

Jamaica's Powell cruised after a fast start to cross in 10.34, behind Keston Bledman of Trinidad and Tobago. He left the stadium with his thumbs up.

Once Powell had used his strong start to cruise ahead, he kept on watching the stadium screen, making sure he would not have to use one stride too much in the sun and heat.

Aside from Mark Jelks, who pulled up lame halfway through his heat with a right ankle injury - more bad news for the US relay team already struggling with no-shows - the sprinters generally thrived in hot conditions that made racing difficult for the distance runners.

Record win

Luke Kibet won the men's marathon by the biggest margin - 79 seconds - in the history of the championships.

Although when Kibet hit the tape drenched in sweat in 2 hours, 15 minutes and 59 seconds, he had just won the slowest major championships race at low altitude in 51 years, going back to the Melbourne Olympics.

Mubarak Hassan Shami of Qatar was second in 2:17:18, and Viktor Roethlin of Switzerland took bronze. The marathon is Japan's favorite event and failing to medal was a huge disappointment to the thousands lining Osaka's downtown streets.

"I wanted to get a medal today, the color would not be important," said Tsuyoshi Ogato, who was fifth.

The marathon, which started at 7 am local time and finished in 33 Celsius heat heat, was the first event of the program.

Carolina Kluft got off to a great start in the heptathlon, equaling her personal best in the 100 hurdles. The Swede was in a good position to extend her five-year unbeaten streak and win an unprecedented third straight gold in the event on Sunday.

In the shot put, defending champion Adam Nelson and world leading performer Reese Hoffa easily qualified for the final later Saturday.

The only other final is the women's 10,000, where Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba is a favorite to defend her title .

Bernard Lagat made his first appearance wearing a US singlet in a major international competition, advancing through the first round of the 1,500 meters.

Lagat, who has lived in the United States since 1996, became a US citizen in 2004.

He was prohibited by international rules from competing for the United States in a world championships or Olympics until Friday, one day before the Osaka meet began. Lagat won an Olympic silver medal for Kenya in 2004 and a bronze in 2000.