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Kipketer breaks 800 mark; Devers makes final in 60 meters

March 7, 1997

PARIS (AP) _ Wilson Kipketer set an 800-meter world indoor record of 1 minute, 43.96 seconds today in his heat at the World Indoor championship.

Kipketer, who was born in Kenya and lives in Denmark, beat the record of Kenya’s Paul Ereng, who did 1:44.84 on March 4, 1989, at the world championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Gail Devers won another controversial photo finish decision when she appeared to be ousted from the 60-meters in the semifinal, but was then was placed second and qualified for the final.

Devers was timed in 7.15 seconds and tied with Ekaterini Thanou of Greece, behind world indoor record holder Irina Privalova of Russia who had 7.10. The scoreboard put Thanou second and Devers third, which meant that the American two-time Olympic 100-meter champion did not made the final.

Within two minutes, the placings were reversed.

Devers was placed second and Thanou third, a decision that was booed by Greek fans. Devers hurried away and said she would not talk until after the final later today

The semifinal finish was the latest drama to involve Devers at the end of races in major championships.

At last summer’s Olympics in Atlanta, she and Jamaican star Merlene Ottey had the same time, 10.94, but the American gained the gold medal verdict on a photo finish. Ottey, who has never won an Olympic gold medal, still refuses to accept the decision.

Privalova and Devers were joined in the final by rising star Chandra Sturrup of the Bahamas and Olympic long jump champion Chioma Ajunwa. Sturrup clocked 7.10 and Ajunwa 7.12.

Two-time defending titlist Bruny Surin also made it to the men’s 60-meter final after clocking 6.50 in his semifinal, the same as Jamaica’s Michael Green. But neither American semifinalist made it.

Tim Montgomery placed third behind Surin and Green in 6.57 and U.S. indoor champion Randall Evans, who scrambled into the semifinal as the seventh fastest loster, placed fifth in his semifinal behind qualifiers Davidson Ezinwa of Nigeria and Patrik Lovgren of Sweden.

Ezinwa was timed at 6.57 and Lovgren 6.58. Evans, who shared the year’s fastest time of 6.49, clocked 6.63 this time.

Another Greek sprinter, Haralambros Papadias and another Jamaican, Raymond Stewart also qualified from their heat. Papadias won in 6.53 and Stewart had 6.54.

Even with $2.3 million at stake for the first time in the championship, the top American male sprinters weren’t taking part.

Ato Boldon, who set the world’s fastest time this year for 200 meters at 20.35 at Birmingham, England, two weeks ago, finished second in his heat to Chile’s Sebastien Keitel, both time 20.99. The Trinidadian wound up tied for fifth fastest.

Fastest qualifier was American sprinter Kevin Little, the bronze medalist in the 1989 and ’93 world indoor championships, who clocked 20.73.

Haile Gebreselassie, the world record holder, fastest this year and Olympic 10,000 meter champion, cruised to victory in the 3,000 heats, clocking 7 minutes 50.17 seconds almost 20 seconds off his best.

United States champion Derek Mills, whose international titles have all come in relays, won his 400 meter heat with a modest 47.10. That compared with the 46.52 of Britain’s Jamie Baulch, who has the fastest this year of 45.39 and is favored to succeed another American, Darnell Hall, as world titlist.

Britain’s Sally Gunnell and Deon Hemmings of Jamaica, the last two winners of the Olympic 400 meters hurdles titles, failed to make it past the first round on the flat.

Gunnell, 1992 Olympic titlist in Barcelona, finished third in her heat in 53.05 and Hemmings, Jamaica’s first female Olympic gold medalist who triumphed in Atlanta last summer, was third in 53.22.

Nigeria’s Charity Opara, fastest in the world this year after returning from a four-year drug-related ban, was leading qualifier with 52.02 and Germany’s Grit Breuer, who served a suspension for drugs between 1992-95, won her heat in 52.43.

American Jearl Miles-Clark won her heat in 52.63 and Natasha Kaiser-Brown qualified second to Opara in 52.02.

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