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September 25, 2000
Much ado about very littleThe Rediff Team
In contrast to the electricity of Super Saturday, Sunday proved to be a bit of a Sabbath at Stadium Australia. Lots of medals, little drama, pretty much summed up the story of the day's proceedings.
Sergey Kliugin of Russia was the only man on the field to clear 2.35 meters (7 feet-8 1-2 inches) in the men's high jump, and took the gold. Jumping superstar Javier Sotomayor of Cuba, back after a controversial drugs ban, played mental chess to take the silver with 2.32 (7-7 1-4). Abderrahmane Hammad of Algeria also cleared 2.32 (7-7 1-4), but had to settle for bronze because clever passing by the Cuban ensured that he had less failed tries on the board.
The Sydney weather turned for the worse, with cold and blustery conditions throughout. Sotomayor and his peers took their final jumps in rain -- hardly Olympic conditions.
Denise Lewis of Britain, struggling with a cornucopia of injuries ranging from the bland to the bizarre, won the heptathlon with 6,584 points. Yelena Prokhorova of Russia took the silver with 6,531 and Natalia Sazanovich of Belarus, the 1996 silver medalist, got bronze this time with 6,527.
In the women's triple jump, Tereza Marinova of Bulgaria won with a leap of 15.20 meters (49-101/2). Tatiana Lebedeva of Russia jumped 15 meters (49-2 1-2) to take silver, while Olena Hovorova of Ukraine got the bronze at 14.96 (49-1).
The men's hammer throw went to Szymon Ziolkowski of Poland, who sent the ball-on-a-chain hurtling to a distance of 80.02 meters (262-6). Nicola Vizzoni of Italy took the silver at 79.64 (261-3) and Igor Astapkovich of Belarus gained the bronze at 79.17 (259-9).
Australian Cathy Freeman braved the rain to head the field in her heats in the women's 400m semifinal, while India's Binamol finished up last. In the men's version of the event, favourite Michael Johnson seemed more intent on not getting his golden shoes spoilt than in actually running a fast race, coming second in his heat and allowing compatriot Alvin Harrison to lead him home. Harrison timed 44.53 seconds, while Johnson was second in 44.65. Antonio Pettigrew, also of the US, placed first in the other semifinal, coming home in 45.24. Johnson has set his sights on a sub-43 run, though given the weather it seems an unlikely prospect in Sydney.
The 110m hurdles, meanwhile, heads for a showdown between Colin Jackson, the British world champion, and 1996 Olympic champion Allen Johnson.
If the athletes in the evening session braved rain, Naoko Takahashi braved high humidity to win the women's marathon, shattering Joan Bennet's 1984 (Los Angeles) Olympic record in the process while timing 2 hours, 23 minutes, 14 seconds. In the process, she also became the first Japanese woman to win an individual gold medal. Lidia Simon of Romania won silver in 2:23.22 and Joyce Chepchumba of Kenya won bronze.
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