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American Gay makes his mark at World Cup

Written by: Staff

ATHENS, Sep 16 (Reuters) American Tyson Gay further underlined his growing reputation when he ran another sub-10 second race to win the men's 100 metres at the World Cup.

The 24-year-old's time of 9.88 into a 1.1 metre per second headwind was enough to see off European champion Francis Obikwelu and Trinidadian Mark Burns, who was the Americas's replacement for world record holder Asafa Powell.

Powell almost saw some action in the 4x100 metres relay but his Americas team mates dropped the baton before it reached him.

The World Cup brings together teams from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, Oceania and the U.S. plus three European nations -- Russia (men and women), France (men), and Poland (women) who qualified via the European Cup -- plus hosts Greece.

Another American, LaShawn Merrit, reversed last weekend's result in Stuttgart when he beat African champion Gary Kikaya in the 400 metres, while Kerron Clement took advantage of the absence of European champion Pericles Iakovakis - absent with a hamstring injury -- to win the 400 metres hurdles.

The U.S. completed a sweep of the day's sprint events by taking the short relay with Gay running the final leg.

However, they still finished the first day -- the halfway point in the competition -- two points behind Europe who benefited from Ralf Bartel's win in the shot put and Tomas Janku's victory in the high jump.

Kenyan Alex Kipchircher helped Africa into third place by adding the 1500 metres to a long list of successes in 2006.

He won gold medals at last week's World Athletics final in Stuttgart at 1500, the African Championships at 800 and 1500 and the Commonwealth Games in the 800 metres.

Saif Saaeed Shaheen, running for Asia, took the 5000 metres.

EVENLY BALANCED The women's competition is evenly balanced with Russia and the Americas level on 65 points, five ahead of Europe.

The Americas had a great day on the track with sprinter Sherone Simpson running 10.97 in the 100 metres to hold off Torri Edwards, the U.S. replacement for Marion Jones who had decided she was not fit enough to run in Athens.

Cuban Zulia Calatayud came home ahead of the Kenyan Janeth Jepkosgei in the 800 metres for the second time in a week.

Sanya Richards set a U.S. record in the 400 metres. Her time of 48.70 seconds broke Valerie Brisco's national record set when she took gold in Los Angeles in 1984.

''I was just overwhelmed. I can't believe it is a national record. I am so happy,'' said Richards whose time was the fastest in the world since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva had arguably the most comfortable evening, needing just one jump to win the women's pole vault at a height of 4.60 metres.

Isinbayeva, however, looked extremely disappointed at not being able to raise the bar immediately to five metres and failed three times at 4.80 as she challenged her world record.

Fellow Russian Tatyana Lebedeva edged Greece's Hrysopiyi Devetzi in the triple jump as both cleared 15 metres.

Reuters PDS VP0132

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