USA's Gay runs 200m in third-fastest time ever

Updated: September 11, 2006, 2:20 PM ET
Associated Press

STUTTGART, Germany -- Michael Johnson's world records are starting to look within reach.

Tyson Gay
Friedemann Vogel/Bongarts/Getty Images"I never heard a crowd scream that loud," Gay said after running the third-fastest ever 200 meters on Sunday.

Tyson Gay joined exclusive company Sunday when he won the 200 meters at the World Athletics Final in 19.68 seconds. Only two men have run faster times: the 19.63 clocked by fellow American Xavier Carter earlier this year and the decade-old 19.32 mark Johnson set in winning at the Atlanta Olympics.

"I believe it is attainable," Gay said of Johnson's record.

In the 400, Jeremy Wariner has been steadily closing in on the seven-year-old mark held by Johnson, who is also his manager.

"Michael Johnson wants me to break it. I know he does. We will see about that in 2007," Wariner said after winning the 400 Saturday to remain unbeaten this season.

Johnson set the mark of 43.18 to win the world title in 1999 and Wariner set a personal best in July, coming within 0.34 seconds.

However, all eyes were on Gay on Sunday.

After finishing third in Saturday's 100, Gay was blisteringly fast through the turn and kept accelerating in the straightaway to finish in a time also run by Frank Fredericks of Namibia.

"That was kind of crazy -- I never heard a crowd scream that loud," Gay said of the reaction of the 30,000 fans during the race.

Compatriot Wallace Spearmon ran a personal best 19.88, while Jamaica's Usain Bolt took third in 20.10.

Gay says staying healthy has been the key to his recent fast times.

"I haven't been injured and I've been training consistently," Gay said.

The competition is heating up in the 200, especially after Carter's 19.63 in Lausanne earlier this season.

"All the guys are motivated now," Gay said. "There should be no ducking, no hiding."

The American is happy with his start and finish, but needs to work on the bit in between.

"It is something in the middle that is missing," Gay said.

Yelena Isinbayeva won the pole vault but could not get close to her world record of 16 feet, 5¼ inches. She cleared 15-7, but failed at 15-11.

Poland's Monika Pyrek was second at 15-3.

Isinbayeva, who complained of fatigue, has three competitions to set a 20th overall world record.

"With one week's rest," she said, "I won't feel tired at the World Cup in Athens" next weekend. "I still have the world record in mind."

Kenenisa Bekele put complaints about a long season aside to cruise to victory in an exceptionally slow 5,000. The Ethiopian took the lead one lap from the finish and kicked with 250 meters to go, finishing in 13 minutes, 48.62 seconds -- 0.83 seconds ahead of Kenya's Edwin Cheruiyot Soi.

Tatyana Lebedeva became the only double-winner of the two-day event, adding the triple jump to her long jump title from Saturday. Lebedeva won with a mediocre 48-7½, but it was good enough to beat Chrisopiyi Devetsi by 9½ inches.

"I wanted to jump farther, but I just could not find the adrenaline," Lebedeva said.

The best duel of the weekend ended in a draw Sunday. After world champion Tirunesh Dibaba beat Meseret Defar by 0.01 seconds in Saturday's 5,000, it was payback time in the 3,000.

Again, the Ethiopians were neck-and-neck over the last lap, but this time Olympic 5,000 champion Defar had the freshest legs, winning in 8:34.22 to beat Dibaba by 0.52 seconds.

In the concluding 100, Jamaica's Sherone Simpson kept a near-perfect season going with a win in 10.89, edging Torri Edwards, Allyson Felix and Me'Lisa Barber.

In the 400 hurdles, European champion Periklis Iakovakis of Greece surged past Bernshawn Jackson on the finishing straight to finish in 47.92 seconds. Jackson faded fast and L.J. Van Zyl of South Africa beat him at the line in 48.08, with the American .16 seconds behind.

Olympic champion Koji Murofushi of Japan kept his season-long unbeaten streak in the hammer throw, winning with 267-1 and edging double world champion Ivan Tikhon by 11¾ inches.

Panama's Irving Saladino won the long jump with a leap of 27-7¼, holding an edge of just 2¾ inches over Saudi Arabia's Mohamed Salman Al Khuwalidi. Louis Tsatoumas of Greece was third with a jump of 27-2½.

World champion Zulia Calatayud won the 800 in a tight finish with Janeth Jepkosgei, the season's top performer so far. The Cuban crossed in 1:59.02, holding off the Kenyan by .08.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press