Powell proceeds with caution after pulling up in 100-meter heat

Updated: July 11, 2008, 4:27 PM ET
Associated Press

ROME -- Olympic silver medalist Francis Obikwelu won the 100 meters at the star-studded Golden Gala meet Friday after former world-record holder Asafa Powell pulled out of the final with a groin injury.

Obikwelu, a Portuguese sprinter who finished second to Justin Gatlin at the 2004 Athens Games, finished in 10.04 seconds, while Derrick Atkins of the Bahamas was second in the same time.

Powell burst out of the blocks in the heats and took the midway lead, but pulled up and finished fifth in 10.19 seconds. He took the final qualifying spot for the nine-man final, but decided against running.

"He's OK, but he felt his groin cramp up and stopped running as a precaution," said Powell's manager, Paul Doyle. "He's not going to take any chances. It's an Olympic year."

Doyle said this was a new injury, though Powell "has had problems with his groin in the past."

Powell's fellow Jamaican Usain Bolt set a world record of 9.72 seconds in New York on May 31, improving on the 9.74 Powell ran last September in Rieti, Italy.

Midway through the meet, only one athlete has a chance at the Golden League's $1 million jackpot -- Pamela Jelimo in the 800 meters.

Jelimo, an 18-year-old Kenyan who burst onto the international scene this year, confirmed her status as the best 800 runner in the world with a meet-record 1:55.69 -- well ahead of world champion Janeth Jepkosgei, who crossed second in 1:58.74.

Josephine Onyia's jackpot hopes were erased when the Spanish sprinter finished sixth in the 100 hurdles, which was won by Brigitte Foster-Hylton in 12.60.

Athletes competing later include Bershawn Jackson in the 400 hurdles, Hussein Al-Sabee in the long jump and Blanka Vlasic in the high jump.

Competitors who win their event in all six Golden League meets will share the jackpot. Rome is the third meet in the series after Berlin and Oslo, followed by Paris (July 18), Zurich (Aug. 29) and Brussels (Sept. 5).

Dayron Robles of Cuba kept up his impressive form in the 110 hurdles, timing a comfortable 13.08 to win by several strides ahead of Sergiy Demidyuk, who clocked 13.40.

Robles broke Liu Xiang's world mark when he ran 12.87 seconds in Ostrava, Czech Republic, on June 12.

Tero Pitkamaki, the Finn who pierced French long jumper Salim Sdiri with an errant javelin throw last year, won the javelin at 87.70 meters, while Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen finished a disappointing fourth.

The javelin competition was moved up to the start of this year's meet so as not to risk any interference with the long jump.

Later, double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius resumes his bid to qualify for the Olympics in the 400 meters.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press