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Isinbayeva loses pole vault title at worlds

OLYMPIC champion Yelena Isinbayeva lost her five-year stranglehold on the pole vault yesterday, failing to clear any height at the world championships.

In stark contrast, Kenenisa Bekele and the Jamaican sprinters were as predictable as ever.

Bekele extended his domination over the 10,000 meters with a fourth straight world title and Shelly-Ann Fraser added one to her Olympic gold in the 100.

Isinbayeva had won all major titles since the 2004 Athens Games and saw a difficult year hit an unexpected low when the bar fell down on her at 4.80 meters. As the Russian held her head in despair, Anna Rogowska of Poland, who beat her at a meet in London last month, celebrated unexpected gold. She had cleared 4.75 meters.

"I have no proper explanation," the Russian said. "Everything was perfect. I was confident. ... I did not expect it."

Unlike Isinbayeva, Bekele didn't use 10 fingers to hide his face. He was holding up just one to show he remains the undisputed No. 1 when entering the final straight, having used his famed final kick to distance Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea by about 20 meters. As if he had been out on a jog, the Ethiopian immediately went on a victory lap with his teammates.

Equaling the four world titles of Haile Gebrselassie, Bekele is challenging him ever more as Africa's greatest ever distance runner. He will decide later whether to go for a long-distance double.

Over the shortest distances, Jamaica emerged ever stronger as the greatest nation.

Fraser blasted out of the blocks and led throughout the race to give Jamaica its second sprint gold in as many days. Usain Bolt won the men's 100 in a world record time of 9.58 seconds on Sunday.

"It is a motivation because Usain Bolt was really magnificent," Fraser said. "We have to ride the occasion."

Fraser finished in 10.73 seconds, and behind her, fast approaching teammate Kerron Stewart finished in 10.75, also crossing in a blur of Jamaican yellow. United States champion Carmelita Jeter was never in the race and finished third in 10.90, edging defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown, a third Jamaican in the top four.

Adding another morose touch to the American team, sprinter Tyson Gay said he would not compete in a rematch with 100-meter champion Usain Bolt in the 200 later this week because of a nagging groin injury.

"Rather than risk further injury, I've decided that I will not compete in tomorrow's first round of the 200," Gay said in a statement. "This decision will give me the best chance to be ready for the (4x100) relay. I want to help our relay as best I can."

Gay's withdrawal left the United States under more pressure in the battle for sprint domination with the Jamaicans, a race they now trail 2-0.

If Isinbayeva's collapse was a surprise when she held her head in her hands on the mat, with the bar alongside her, so was the defeat of another Russian, Gulnara Galkina, in the steeplechase.

The Olympic champion fell back over the final lap, allowing Marta Dominguez of Spain to win gold.

Dominguez, the silver medalist at the 2001 and 2003 worlds, raced past Yuliya Zarudneva of Russia in the last 100 meters and waved her orange head band in celebration. Milcah Chemos Cheywa of Kenya was third and Galkina finished fourth.

Olympic champion Primoz Kozmus of Slovenia won the gold in the hammer throw, beating former Olympic champion Szymon Ziolkowski of Poland. Aleksey Zagornyi of Russia took bronze.

Kozmus took the lead on his second attempt but put more shine on his victory with a winning throw of 80.84 meters on his last attempt - with gold already assured.

Ziolkowski, showing his best form since taking gold at the 2000 Sydney Games and 2001 worlds in Edmonton, threw 79.30.

Yargelis Savigne of Cuba successfully defended her triple jump title, and compatriot Mabel Gay picked up the silver.

Already leading after three rounds, Savigne took the title with her best jump of 14.95 meters on her fifth attempt. Gay finished second with a jump of 14.61, and Anna Pyatykh of Russia took bronze with a jump of 14.58.

The biggest surprise came in the women's 800 semifinals when Pamela Jelimo stepped off the track after falling behind. The 19-year-old Kenyan stopped running with 250 meters to go.

She had been troubled by injury this season after a perfect 16-for-16 season last year.

The departure of Jelimo left Caster Semenya of South Africa, who won her semifinal heat, as the favorite for Wednesday's final. Defending champion Janeth Jepkosgei finished third in her heat and advanced on time.


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