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August 21, 2009

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Berlin cheers Harting's big win, Kamel conquers 1,500

USAIN Bolt was back on the track but the biggest roar of the world championships in Berlin so far was reserved for local hero Robert Harting when he won the men's discus with a monster throw on his final attempt on Wednesday.

There were also great distance performances as Yusuf Saad Kamel won a thrilling men's 1,500 meters and 18-year-old South African Caster Semenya delivered a crushing performance in the women's 800 only hours after the IAAF announced she was being gender tested after suspicions about her rapid progress.

Bolt progressed impressively to the 200 meters final with an all-too-easy 20.08 then watched teammate Brigitte Foster-Hylton mine more gold for Jamaica with a 12.51 seconds victory in the women's 100 hurdles. Compatriot Delloreen Ennis-London added to the island's tally with bronze (12.55) behind Priscilla Lopes-Schliep of Canada (12.54).

Discus is a popular event in Germany and there was huge disappointment earlier in the day when 41-year-old three-time champion Franka Dietzsch failed to make the women's final and then announced her retirement.

Things did not look too good for the home fans later when Pole Piotr Malachowski twice broke his national record to lead with 69.15 meters after five rounds. Berlin-based Harting was sitting in second but, after revving the crowd into a frenzy, he then found a 69.43 effort to snatch gold and set off on a new take on the lap of honor as he hoisted the dancing six-foot furry mascot on to his shoulder.

Kamel, one of a throng of leading Kenyans who switched allegiance to the Middle East earlier in the decade, spent much of this year trying to engineer a return from Bahrain but ended the night draped in the flag of his adopted nation.

Ethiopian Deresse Mekonnen tried to win it from the front but his brave effort fell just short as Kamel, the son of a former twice 800 world champion Billy Konchellah, emerged from the pack 70 meters out to run him down and win in 3:35.93.

Mekonnen took silver while 2007 champion Bernard Lagat, a Kenyan-turned American, held off Asbel Kiprop and Augustine Choge, two Kenyans actually running in Kenya vests, for bronze.

Semenya put all the distractions behind her to win the final with an awesome display of front running, securing gold in 1 minute, 55.45 seconds - slicing more than another second off her best time. Jepkosgei, reinstated after her heats trip, finished second, but more than 15 meters adrift.


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