American Perry retains hurdles title; Lagat wins 1,500 for U.S.

OSAKA, Japan &

Perhaps breaking a leg was the best possible career move for American Michelle Perry. Becoming a U.S. citizen didn't hurt Bernard Lagat, either.

When Perry stood atop the 100 hurdles victory podium listening to the Star Spangled Banner, Kenyan-born Lagat interrupted his 1,500 victory lap to turn to the flag, held his hand to his heart and made it an impromptu double-victory ceremony.

"This is for the American people," he said. "When you're carrying this flag, it means a lot."

Minutes earlier Lagat was in a seemingly poor position off the final bend but produced the kick of his life to end a career of minor-medal finishes for Kenya and become a world champion.

Over the final stretch, he overtook former countrymen and held off defending champion Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain to finish in — minutes 34.77. Kenya's Shedrack Kibet Korir took bronze.

"I really accelerated at the end, because I really wanted it for America," he said.

At 32, he wanted it for himself, too. He had won bronze and silver at the Sydney and Athens Olympics and silver at the 2001 world championships. The big one, though, always eluded him, until today.

He has lived in the United States in 1996, became a citizen in 2004 and only became eligible to compete for his adopted country on the eve of these championships in Osaka.

American Alan Webb, the year's top performer, led after the first lap but faded to finish eighth.

Perry took her second straight world title in the 100-meter hurdles on Wednesday, 14 years after a freak accident forced her to quit soccer. She had to dig deep for victory, making the difference only after the last hurdle with a desperate lunge at the line.

"It was amazing for the first 60 and a fight to the end," Perry said. "I came off the 10th hurdle and pressed to the finish and pulled it out."

Her time of 12.46 seconds held off 2003 champion Perdita Felicien of Canada by .03 seconds. Delloreen Ennis-London of Jamaica was third in 12.50.

With Perry and Lagat's titles, the United States improved to five golds and 10 medals overall. Russia has three gold and nine total.

Perry maintained her dominating season. She is one of three athletes still in the running for the $1 million Golden League jackpot, rewarding the athletes who remain perfect in the world's six biggest one-day meets.

On an evening of career reversals, Christine Ohuruogu won the 400 only weeks after ending a one-year suspension for missing three doping tests. Ohuruogu came back stronger than ever, clawing back over the last 20 meters to sweep past Jamaican Novlene Williams and dragging Nicola Sanders in her wake to silver for a 1-2 British finish.

The British athletics federation said Ohuruogu's violation was because of forgetfulness. The 23-year-old is also appealing a British lifetime ban from the Olympics.

"At this time last year I was in complete turmoil. I didn't know what I was doing," Ohuruogu said. "It hasn't quite sunk in yet. I'm just happy that I've worked hard and everything has come together at the right time."

Jeremy Wariner proved the U.S. team can expect another gold from him. Barely one minute after starting his 400, he already was explaining to television crews how he had cruised in his semifinal to a 44.34-second time, jogging over the line.

Angelo Taylor and LaShawn Merritt joined him among the top three finishers, making a U.S. sweep on Friday a real possibility.

"It's very possible. We're deep, very deep and everybody is running fast," Taylor said.

Donald Thomas of Bahamas won the high jump gold medal at 7 feet, 81/4 inches.

Thomas missed his opening attempt at 7 feet, — inches and only cleared 7-7&

190; at his third attempt, but was successful with his first leap at the winning height.

At 39, defending champion Franka Dietzsch gave Germany its first gold when she beat Russia's Darya Pishchalnikova and Cuba's Yarelis Barrios in the discus. Dietzsch also won the title in 1999.

Veronica Campbell kept her challenge for a sprint double alive Wednesday. So did long jump champion Tatyana Lebedeva.

One day after winning the long jump, the Russian needed just one attempt of 47 feet, 9&

190; inches to qualify for Friday's triple jump final, saving as much energy as she could in the draining heat and humidity.

Jamaica's Campbell kept her winning ways going, beating Torri Edwards in her 200 heat to reach Thursday's semifinals. Also advancing were defending champion Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards.

Campbell won the 100 by three one-thousandths of a second over American Lauryn Williams. She had far less trouble in her heats on Wednesday, happy not to be pushed too hard.

"I'm tired, but by the final I will be OK," she said.

Felix, who gave up the 100 to concentrate on the 200, also held back.

"I didn't want to put out any more energy than I had to. It's going to be a tough final," she said.

For Sanya Richards, who had the evening's top time of 22.31 seconds, the situation is different.

She would have been the overwhelming favorite later Wednesday to win the 400, which she has dominated for the past two years, but she failed to qualify for the U.S. team.

That race is now wide open since Olympic and defending champion Tonique Williams-Darling is out injured.

"It's been really hard to watch the 400," Richards said. "I would've run really well. That's depressing, but I think the 200 is going to be exciting, too."

Tyson Gay will also seek to get closer to his sprint double. After beating his archrival Asafa Powell in the 100 over the weekend, he has his semifinal in the 200 late Wednesday.

Liu Xiang is Olympic champion and has the world record. Now he wants the 110 hurdles world title too.

The Chinese track star ran clean over the 10 hurdles to win his opening heat in 13.36 seconds, well off his world record of 12.88. Time was the least of his worries though &

a relaxed opening run was most important.

"It was easy. I was not forced to show my best," Liu said.

In one of the most competitive events of the championships, U.S. hurdler Terrence Trammell advanced in 13.40. Defending champion Ladji Doucoure of France had an early scare, qualifying in second place behind Cuban Dayron Robles.

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