Obikwelu wins 100, Powell withdraws at Golden Gala
ROME -- Yelena Isinbayeva finally set another world record in the pole vault, Jeremy Wariner turned the tables on rival LaShawn Merritt in the 400 meters and Asafa Powell injured his groin at the star-studded Golden Gala meet Friday.
Isinbayeva cleared 16 feet, 6 inches (5.03 meters) Friday at the Golden Gala meet, improving on her previous mark of 16-5 1/4 (5.01) set at the 2005 world championships in Helsinki, Finland.
"I was ready for a world record," Isinbayeva said. "My goal today was to beat the world record."
In the 400, Wariner beat Merritt in a photo finish a week after Merritt stunned the Olympic and two-time world champion at the U.S. Olympic trials.
This time, Wariner won in 44.36 seconds -- one-hundredth ahead of Merritt.
"I got out strong. I worked my tires. I finally executed like I should have at trials," Wariner said.
He held a slight lead rounding the last turn and went ahead by a stride midway down the final straight, but Merritt made a late charge to force the photo finish. Chris Brown of the Bahamas took third in 44.73.
After losing two straight, Wariner improved his career record over Merritt to 12-3, dating back to the spring of 2005.
Merritt said he thought the race was "set up," apparently by lane assignments -- Wariner had lane 4 and Merritt lane 5.
In one of the last major meets before the Beijing Games, defending Olympic silver medalist Francis Obikwelu won the 100 meters after former world record holder Powell pulled out of the final with a groin cramp.
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.
In a preliminary heat, Powell burst out of the blocks to take the midway lead, then pulled up and crossed fifth in 10.19 seconds. He took the final qualifying spot for the nine-man final, but decided against running again.
"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."
Obikwelu was also hurting, due to a left Achilles tendon problem.
Double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius also missed out in another attempt to qualify for the Olympics, finishing seventh in the 400 B race. The South African crossed in 46.62 seconds. He needs to run a 45.55 to qualify for the Olympics.
Only two athletes kept alive a chance at the Golden League's $1 million jackpot -- Blanka Vlasic in the high jump and Pamela Jelimo in the 800 meters.
Competitors who win their event in all six Golden League meets will share the jackpot. Rome is the third meet in the series.
Bershawn Jackson's jackpot hopes ended when he was beaten by fellow American Kerrin Clement in the 400 hurdles. Clement, the world champion, won in 48.23. Jackson, the 2005 world champion, finished in 48.34.
Hussein Al-Sabee, the last man in the jackpot hunt, was eliminated when he finished third in the long jump, behind world champion Irving Saladino and Mohamed Al-Khuwalidi. Saladino leaped 27 feet, 2 3/4 inches (8.30 meters).
Josephine Onyia also saw her chances at the lucrative prize fade when the Spaniard finished sixth in the 100 hurdles, which was won by Brigitte Foster-Hylton in 12.60.
Allyson Felix made her case to be a member of the United States' 1,600 relay team at the Beijing Games by winning the 400 by a large margin. Felix crossed in 50.25, with Novlene Williams of Jamaica second in 50.79.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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