Kim Batten broke the world record for the women’s 400 hur
GOTEBORG, Sweden (AP) _ Kim Batten broke the world record for the women’s 400 hurdles, and so did fellow American Tonja Buford, as they finished 1-2 in the event at the World Championhips today.
In other events, Sergei Bubka of Ukraine won the pole vault title for the fifth time in a row and Kenya’s Moses Kiptanui clinched his third 3,000 straight steeplechase title.
Batten was timed in 52.61 seconds and Buford in 52.62, both well inside the 52.74 owned by Britain’s Sally Gunnell, set at the last Worlds at Stuttgart two years ago.
It was the first world record set by an American woman since Florence Griffith Joyner set the 200-meter mark at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.
Batten was ahead from the start but Buford produced a late charge in the final straightaway to run her close at the line. Third place Deon Hemmings of Jamaica was third in a national record 53.48.
``Yesterday I had a dream that I broke the world record. It was the most vivid dream I ever had,″ Batten said. ``I knew Tonja was going to be tough to beat and that I had to run fast to win.
``People talking about it being a weak field (without injured Gunnell) didn’t know what they were talking about.″
In the second disqualification in two days for an athlete running out of a lane, defending champion Maria Mutola of Mozambique was eliminated after winning her 800 meters semifinal.
The athletes, who start on a bend, are separated by lanes at the beginning and Mutola was seen running on the line inside her, which breaks the rules because it gives her a slightly smaller distance to run.
The 1993 titlist burst into tears when she was told she had been disqualified from Sunday’s final.
Sprinter Gwen Torrence wept over comments made by rival Merlene Ottey that she cheated in the World Championship 200-meter final also by running out of her lane on a bend.
The 30-year-old American, who earlier won the 100 meters title, was disqualified minutes after finishing first in the 200 final and later heard Ottey say that what the American did was cheating by effectively running two meters shorter than the others..
``She didn’t hurt me as a runner, she hurt me as a person,″ an emotional Torrence said.
``I am very very disappointed, not so much as a competitor but as a mother,″ said the Olympic 200 meter champion, who wiped away tears and spoke in a quivering voice at a news conference.
``I have always tried to instil in my little boy (5-year-old Manley Jr.) that you do not have to cheat to do anything.
``My little boy can read. He picks up the paper and can see what his mother does. He had to read this this morning,″ Torrence said.
``How am I going to explain this to my boy? I’m afraid to call him. Somebody gave him the news that his mother cheated to win.″
``I never tried to step on the line. I serves no purpose to risk being disqualified. If I had thought that I was too close I would have tried to correct it.″
Bubka was the only vaulter to clear 19 feet, 5 1/4 inches and then failed in a bid to break his world record of 20-1 3/4 7/8. He had the bar raised to 20-2 1/4, but three times failed to clear the height.
Olympic champion Maksim Tarasov of Russia won the silver and Jean Galfione of France the bronze.
Kiptanui won the 3,000 steeplechase title for the third Worlds in a row. But the chance of a first ever Kenyan 1-2-3, like the Olympics, was wrecked when Olympic champion Matthew Birir fell twice on the final lap and finished ninth.
Kiptanui’s winning time of 8 minutes 04.16 beat his own championship record while Kenya’s Christopher Koskei was second in 8:09.30 and Sa’ad Shaddad Al-Asmari finished third to win Saudi Arabia’s first world championship medai in 8:12.95, an Arabian record.
It was the third time in a row Kenyan runners had finished first and second.
Michael Johnson breezed into the final of the 200 meters later today in the fastest time in the world this year, 20.01.
Aiming for an unprecedented double triumph, Johnson won the 400 title Monday in the second fastest time in history, 43.39.
Two-time Olympic champion Roger Kingdom, who qualified for the semifinal of the 110 meters hurdles, described how Torrence’s disqualification would spark the United States team into even greater efforts in the final three days of the championships.
Torrence finished so far ahead of rivals Ottey and Irina Privalova in the World Championships 200 meters final, she was already savoring the glory of a double triumph when it was ruled she had run several steps on the line or out of her lane.
``It’s a sad situation and I wish it hadn’t happened to her,″ Kingdom said. ``It was almost the race of her life.