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Maurice Greene beaten in Paris

John Mehaffey in Paris | July 24, 2004 11:15 IST

Nigerian-born Portuguese Francis Obikwelu upset Olympic champion Maurice Greene on his 30th birthday with victory in the men's 100 metres at the Paris Golden League meeting on Friday.

Obikwelu, a member of the minority Ibo tribe who emigrated to Portugal in 1994 and became a citizen three years ago, clocked 10.06 seconds to Greene's 10.14.

Francis ObikweluGreene, who will defend his Olympic title in Athens next month after finishing first in the U.S. trials, finished second in 10.14. His reaction time was the slowest of the eight men who finished the race.

The American champion's 2003 season ended abruptly when he was injured in the semi-finals at last year's world championships at the same Stade de France venue.

But he has looked back to his best this year and was full of confidence at a news conference on Thursday after flying into Paris the previous day.

But on Friday after his sluggish start and disappointing finish Greene said he should have given himself more time before starting his European campaign.

"I need three whole days before I run when I come to Europe and I only had two," he said. "I will be fine (for Athens)."

Greene, who will now remain in Europe until September, promised to run a sub-10 second time at the London Grand Prix next Friday but said he was uncertain whether he could compete in Zurich a week later.

Obikwelu, European silver medallist two years ago at the 100 and 200, said it was only two weeks since he recovered from a pulled hamstring. He showed no ill-effects on Friday, returning to the track to win the 200 in a national record of 20.12.

FIVE REMAIN

The five athletes still in contention for the $1 million jackpot shared by competitors who win each of their designated Golden League events all won at the third of the six elite European meetings.

World champion Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic, unbeaten over the 400 hurdles for three years, drew level with American champion James Carter at the fifth barrier and strode away to win in 47.99 seconds.

As he crossed the line, Sanchez pointed to the number one he had been allotted to wear on his vest then ripped it off and waved it to the crowd.

"I was a bit down on the third or fourth hurdle and then I just powered home as usual," Sanchez said.

Tonique Williams-Darling of the Bahamas clocked the fastest time of the year when she won the women's 400 metres in 49.15 seconds by five metres from Romanian Ionela Tirlea-Manolache. Her time was also a national record.

"I didn't think I'd run that fast," Williams-Darling said. "The last 200 went well, though, and this is very encouraging for the future."

The field event contenders for the jackpot, South African women's high jumper Hestrie Cloete (1.99 metres), Swedish men's triple jumper Christian Olsson (17.41) and Lithuanian men's discus thrower Virgilijus Alekna (70.21), also won.

In other events, Kenyan Bernard Lagat set a season's best with the first sub-3:30 time of the year in the men's 1,500. Lagat clocked three minutes 29.21 seconds.

American Jerome Young returned to the track where he won the world 400 title last year to jeers and whistles from some sections of an impressively large crowd of 63,851.

During the championships an American newspaper revealed Young tested positive for the steroid nandrolone in 1999 and this month the International Association of Athletics Federations annulled the result of the 2000 Sydney Olympic 4x400 metres final because Young had competed in two early rounds for the eventual champions.

Young, who has failed to qualify for Athens, finished sixth out of seven on Friday.


Athens 2004: The Complete Coverage

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