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Kim scales new heights to snatch gold

SOUTH Korean teenager Kim Yu-na emphasized her dominance by becoming the first woman to break the 200-point barrier at the world championships as she skated to individual gold in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Entering the night with a commanding lead of 8.2 points, the 18-year-old electrified the Staples Center with a stunning free skate which earned her 131.59 points for a combined total of 207.71, shattering the old mark by eight points.

Her record haul was far out of the reach of Canadian silver medalist Joannie Rochette, who finished second with 191.29. It was Canada's first medal at the worlds since Liz Manley also won silver in 1988

"I didn't think about the points, I had a good performance. To be champion was my dream and I did it here - it's amazing," Kim told reporters. "I felt very comfortable because I got such a high score in the short program, but the short program is just that. I wanted to concentrate on the long, and I did very good."

The 2007 world champion, Miki Ando, leapfrogged her fellow Japanese and defending champion Mao Asada to claim the bronze.

Coming into the championships, the event had been billed as another chapter in the rivalry between teenagers Kim and Asada, but the competition never really materialized. Asada failed to land a double axel early in her routine, as she fell to fourth with a total of 188.09.

"It's very regrettable that I fell, but I didn't let it affect the rest of my performance, so I'm satisfied," Asada said. "(Kim) is a good rival for me, and she motivates me a lot."

Kim finished off a clean and playful routine with a combination spin and was showered with flowers and lengthy applause from the adoring crowd.

She wiped away tears on the podium as her country's flag was raised and national anthem played. "This is my third championships and the last two I was regretful that I couldn't do well," Kim said. "I've been training well but I wasn't sure I could do it. I'm very happy."

American Rachael Flatt finished fifth in front of the partisan crowd, followed by Finland's Laura Lepisto and Alena Leonova of Russia.

The Americans failed to medal for a third straight year. That hasn't happened since 1962-64, after a plane crash wiped out the entire US team on its way to the 1961 world championships.


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