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Friedrich stuns Vlasic to triumph in Berlin

ARIANE Friedrich beat Blanka Vlasic in the Golden League again on Sunday, clearing a world-leading 2.06 meters to win the women's high jump at the ISTAF meet in Berlin, Germany.

Home favorite Friedrich, who won the last Golden League meet in Brussels, Belgium, last year to prevent Croatia's Vlasic from winning a share of the US$1-million jackpot, then failed to equal the world record of 2.09. Vlasic cleared 2.03 meters.

The two rivals will meet again in the same stadium in August at the world championships.

Marina Aitova of Kazakhstan took the bronze with a jump of 1.93 meters.

Sanya Richards of the United States and pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, who shared the jackpot in 2007, also won in the first of six Golden League events. The US$1 million is shared equally between athletes who win their event at all six meets.

Richards, who is trying to become the first woman to win the jackpot for the third time after also achieving the feat in 2006, won the women's 400 meters by clocking 49.57 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year.

"I came here to run fast. I didn't even go shopping before the race because I wanted to save all my energy," Richards said. "I am looking forward to coming back in August and leaving with the gold."

Isinbayeva settled for a modest 4.83 meters after failing to clear higher attempts.

Daniel Bailey of Antigua took advantage of a weak field to win the men's 100 meters in 10.03 seconds. Olympic champion and world record-holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica skipped the event.

"I am sure I can go faster at the world championships," Bailey said.

Jamaica's Kerron Stewart won the women's 100 in 11 seconds flat despite a slow start. "I didn't expect to run that fast, and I even stumbled out of the blocks, so I have no complaints," Stewart said."

Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia shook off any injury concerns to win the 5,000-meter race in 13 minutes, 0.76 seconds.

Bekele, who dropped out of a 1,500 race in the Netherlands this month with a suspected thigh injury, withheld a strong challenge from three Kenyan runners. He has now won 12 straight 5K races, a streak dating back to July 2006.

Three Americans swept the men's 110 hurdles, with Dexter Faulk winning in 13.18 seconds ahead of Ryan Wilson and Davis Payne.

Damu Cherry of the United States won the women's 100 hurdles in 12.76 seconds, while Finland's Tero Pitkamaki won the men's javelin with a throw of 86.53 meters.


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