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Boldon ties 60-meter best, runs fastest 200 time; Ottey, Jackson beaten

February 23, 1997

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) _ Ato Boldon of Trinidad tied the year’s fastest time for 60 meters, then ran the season’s best for 200 Sunday when he charged to spectacular victories at the BUPA Indoor Grand Prix meet.

The Olympic bronze medalist at both 100 and 200 meters was pulling away from the field when he crossed the finish line in the 60 in 6.49 seconds at the National Indoor Arena. That tied the time set by Jamaica’s Michael Green at Lievin, France, a week ago.

Nigeria’s Davidson Ezinwa was second in 6.53 and Jamaica’s Ray Stewart third in 6.55, while runners of the quality of Olympic silver medalist Bruny Surin of Canada and Dennis Mitchell, bronze medalist in 1992, failed to qualify for the final.

In the 200, Norway’s Geir Moen took the early lead, but when the field reached the final bend, Boldon was ahead and he crossed the line in 20.35. Moen ran 20.47, his best of the year.

``I didn’t think I was running that fast,″ Boldon said. ``I was frustrated at meets at Lievin and Stockholm and I don’t like to lose. I just wanted to come here and recover.″

Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey, owner of more medals in major championships than any other woman, was beaten in the women’s 60 by Nigeria’s Christy Opara-Thompson, but vowed she would be a strong challenger at both the world indoor and outdoor championships this year.

Opara-Thompson clocked 7.09 to beat Ottey by .01 second.

``I’ve been talking about retirement since 1994,″ Ottey said. ``But there are not new faces out there, so I feel I can still finish in the top three at least. So I’ll see how the results go and continue on.

``It’s more fun now because there’s no pressure.″

Another Nigerian, Charity Opara, set the fastest 400-meter time of the year, clocking 51.21 to beat Britain’s Phylis Smith by .48. Britain’s Sally Gunnell, the 1993 world champion and 1992 Olympic 400 hurdles gold medalist who often runs flat 400s to improve her speed, finished fourth in 52.22.

The new men’s star in the 400, Britain’s Jamie Baulch, beat world indoor champion Darnell Hall for the fifth time this season, clocking 45.74 and collected $20,000 for winning all four of the Ricoh Tour races at Ghent, Lievin, Stockholm and Birmingham. Hall finished last in the five-man field in 47.48.

World record-holder Colin Jackson of Jackson sustained a rare loss, finishing second to Cuba’s Anier Garcia in the 60-meter hurdles. Garcia won in 7.48, with Jackson, who had lost only to Olympic champion Allen Johnson in five starts this season, .04 slower. American Courtney Hawkins was third in 7.63.

Olympic bronze medalist Steve Smith of Britain posted the best performance of the year in the high jump, clearing 7 feet, 8 inches. He then missed three attempts at 7-9 3/4.

The meet had six world indoor champions although Maria Mutola of Mozambique, the world indoor 800-meter champion and Olympic bronze medalist, withdrew after the death of her father in an auto accident two days ago.

With Mutola absent, Letitia Vriesde of Surinam won the 800 in 1:59.21. Only Mutola has run faster this season with 1:58.47.

Michelle Freeman of Jamaica won her fourth Ricoh Tour 60-meter hurdles race to collect $20,000. She clocked 7.84, beating Olympic silver medalist Brigita Bukovec of Slovenia, who ran 7.97.

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