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Phillips leaps to join elite group

FORMER world champion Dwight Phillips became the joint fifth-best long jump athlete of all time when he leaped 8.74 meters at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, on Sunday.

Phillips, the 2003 and 2005 world title winner, outdistanced Panamanian Olympic champion Irving Saladino by matching the longest jump in the world since 1994. Fellow American Mike Powell set the world record of 8.95 in 1991.

Saladino was second on Sunday at 8.63.

"I have been to the top. I have been to the bottom. I think I am back on the upswing," said Phillips, who was hampered by injuries last year and failed to make the US Olympic team.

Only Powell, Bob Beamon, Carl Lewis and Robert Emmiyan have jumped farther than Phillips. Americans Larry Myricks and Erick Walder have equalled the distance.

"Those guys are the gods of long jump," said Phillips.

In other events, former 100-meter world record holder Asafa Powell was beaten into second by upcoming American Michael Rodgers but expressed confidence he was on the road to recovery from an ankle injury.

"I am not worried," said the Jamaican, who ran 10.07 seconds to Rodgers's personal best of 9.94. "I didn't try to push it. I was out of the blocks slow."

Best performances of the year also came in the men's mile and shot put and women's 400.

Kenyan Olympic medalist Asbel Kiprop won the mile in 3:48.50, US world champion Reese Hoffa bested the three Beijing shot put medalists with a toss of 21.89 meters and Olympic bronze medalist Sanya Richards won the women's 400 in 49.86 seconds.

Olympic champions Angelo Taylor, Andrey Silnov, Dawn Harper and Shelly-Ann Fraser suffered defeat.

Beijing bronze medalist Bershawn Jackson relegated fellow American Taylor to fourth in the men's 400 hurdles. Jackson clocked 48.38 seconds with Taylor running 48.79.

Silnov wound up fifth in the men's high jump, which fellow Russian Ivan Ukhov won at 2.34 meters.

Harper failed to finish the women's 100 hurdles which US world champion Michelle Perry won in 12.74 seconds. American runner-up Damu Cherry was given the same time.

Jamaican Fraser placed fourth in the women's 100. American Carmelita Jeter took the race in a wind-assisted 10.85 seconds.

Olympic 400 champion LaShawn Merritt claimed the infrequently run 300 meters in 31.30 seconds, the second fastest ever.


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