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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 10:30, August 10, 2005
Big names shocked at rain-hit Helsinki worlds
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Qatar's Saif Saaeed Shaheen retained the men's 3,000 meters steeplechase title at the world championships which was delayed by a torrential rain storm and lightning for nearly two hours Tuesday in Helsinki.

A storm hit the Olympic Stadium just as the runners in the second heat of the women's 100m hurdles lined up. The track was soon covered by water and the athletes were forced to leave.

Lightning then started to hit close to the stadium and about thousands of the fans left the stadium.

The competition resumed after a delay of one hour 50 minutes, but the IAAF had to postpone three events, the women's discus final, men's triple jump qualifying and the men's 200m quarter-finals.

The rain hit some athletes very hard and twice world champion Felix Sanchez became the biggest victim. The Dominica's Olympic champion, who has been fighting injury since the Brussels Golden League meeting last year, pulled up after the first hurdle clutching his right hamstring on a soaking track in pouring rain.

Two little known athletes became the beneficiaries of the rain.

American Bershawn Jackson won the hurdles title surprisingly. The 22-year-old produced a personal best 47.30 seconds to edge compatriot James Carter in 47.43. Dai Tamesue of Japan held off American Kerron Clement to take bronze in 48.10.

It was the first major medal for Jackson, who is easily recognisable on the track by his distinctive head band which he wears in memory of his uncle Richard who encouraged his career in athletics.

Cuba's Zulia Calatayud, who had never won anything in the world championships or the Olympics, captured the title of the women's 800 meters.

The 26-year-old produced a surprise coming off the final bend to claim gold in devastating fashion. She then stormed home to win in a time of one minute 58.82 seconds. Morocco's Hasna Benhassi was second in 1:59.42 and Russia's Tatyana Andrianova won the third in 1:59.60.

Andrianova, who held the fastest time in the world this year, complained a lot about the rain and was disappointed after the race.

"I wanted to win and the result was weak, so I am not satisfied. The 1.5 hours delay because of the rain made it very difficult and confusing. The track was very slippery and it made the race very difficult and caused me problems.

Three-time winner Maria Mutola of Mozambique led the race from the first 200m but allowed Andrianova to pass her on the inside, getting bumped in the process.

The 32-year-old finished back in fourth in what could now be her last appearance at the worlds.

It was Kenya-born Shaheen who won the night's first of the night's three gold medals. Shaheen, also the world record holder, clocked eight minutes 13.31 seconds for the win. Kenya's Ezekiel Kemboi took the second in 8:14.95 and his compatriot Brimin Kipruto was third in 8:15.30.

Shaheen made his move just before the bell and pulled away from the field. He kicked for home off the last bend to claim a predicted gold. Olympic champion Kemboi tried to go with Shaheen but he could not chase him.

Former world record holder Boulami bravely battled down the line but was just edged out for the bronze by Kenyan Brimin Kipruto. Spain's Jose Luis Blanco led over the first 1,000m but he finished well back into the pack.

Shaheen said after the race: "It is good to win, I am very pround of defending my world title. Today's race was very much easier than in Paris two years ago.

"I tried a different tactic than how I usually run, and it worked well. I was alone for most of the race, the Kenyans did not bother me at all. I knew they were good, but after five 5 laps I was sure that I was home safe, they could not stop me."

Shaheen, whose former name is Stephen Cherono of Kenya, failed to represent his adopted country in the Athens Olympics last year because he got the Qatari citizenship too late.

According to the IOC, a competitor who has switched nationalities may represent a new country in the Olympics as long as three years have passed since the competitor represented his or her former country.

"This is just a consolation for me after missing Athens last year," Shaheen said. "The race was great, I felt good right from the start."

Kemboi said: "Silver is a good medal for me today. Under these circumstances I am satisfied with my time, but it was a difficult race for me.

"The delay and the rain casued some problems. I had to warm-up several times."

Source: Xinhua

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