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Mutola wins record sixth title

March 08, 2004 09:55 IST
With the nonchalance of a champion, Mozambique's Maria Mutola effortlessly swept to a record sixth world indoors 800 metres title on Sunday but the final day of the Budapest event failed to bring an expected sprint-and-hurdles double for American Gail Devers.

Mutola, 31, surpassed the five indoor world titles held by Cuban long jumper Ivan Pedroso to etch her name in history.

Her celebrations were soured, though, when she branded silver medallist Jolanda Ceplak "pathetic" after the Slovenian complained she had been pushed by her rival during the race.

Russia topped the medals table with eight golds, well ahead of the United States who mustered four.

Their dominance was underlined with another world record on Sunday when the women's 4x400 metres relay team, anchored by individual world champion Natalya Nazarova, beat their own best set five years ago to the day.

It was the third world record at the championships for Russia's women following new marks in the pole vault and triple jump on Saturday.

Russian Tatyana Lebedeva also confirmed herself as the outstanding athlete here by adding long jump gold to her triple jump title and the furthest leap in indoor history.

Mutola's run of indoor titles began in 1993 and was only interrupted six years later when Ludmila Formanova outsprinted her. The Czech also beat her to world outdoor gold in 1999 but Mutola has not been beaten at a major championships since.

Showing no ill effects from a hip injury sustained in a fall in Birmingham last month, the Olympic and world champion overtook Ceplak midway down the back stretch to ease home in 1:58.50.

"I never dreamt that I could win it for the sixth time," she said. "When I first won it in 1993 I was hoping for just one or two titles."


Devers was also bidding to add another milestone to her illustrious career but the 37-year-old found world outdoor champion Perdita Felicien just too good in the 60

metres hurdles and had to settle for silver to add to her sprint gold from Friday.

"It was a big undertaking," said the vanquished champion after narrowly losing her crown to the surprise gold medallist in Paris last year, Canadian Felicien clocking 7.75 to her 7.78 in a head-bob finish.

Her participation at the Athens Olympics is by no means certain though, with the sport's greatest ever sprinter-hurdler saying she needed to "go away and try and figure out where to go now".

The exertions of breaking the women's world indoor triple jump record twice proved no hindrance to Lebedeva who secured her place in the record books by leaping to long jump gold and a unique double.

Less than 24 hours after her extraordinary performance when she equalled Ashia Hansen's record and then twice extended it to a mark of 15.36 metres, Lebedeva underlined her dominance of the jumping disciplines with a winning mark of 6.98.

Sunday's men's triple jump final also witnessed another great leap when Sweden's Christian Olsson equalled the world record of 17.83 metres, first established seven years ago by Cuban Aliecer Urrutia.

The decision to scrap the 200 metres from future international indoor championships -- inside runners struggle to stay in lane on the tightly-banked indoor circuits -- was vindicated by the outcome of both finals.

Men's winner Dominic Demeritte from the Bahamas and women's gold medallist Anastasiya Kapachinskaya of Russia both triumphed from the far outside in lane six. The last-placed runners started from lane one.

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