Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Independent: Abeba Aregawi wins 1,500 at Athlethics Worlds
Thursday, 15 August 2013, 21:53

Sweden capped an eventful world championship day with its first gold medal after one of its high jumpers set off a controversy over Russia's anti-gay law in the morning with a rainbow-colored protest that drew pole vault great Yelena Isinbayeva into condemning homosexuality.

Abeba Aregawi won the closing 1,500 meters Thursday, beating defending champion Jenny Simpson of the United States with a great last-lap effort.

Earlier in the day, Aregawi's teammate Emma Green Tregaro flaunted her rainbow-painted fingernails in the morning as she qualified for the weekend high jump final, a show of support of gays and lesbians in Russia.

It set off Isinbayeva, the Russian pole-vaulting star, who criticized homosexuality and defended the new anti-gay law which has drawn sharp criticism and led Western activists to call for a boycott of next year's Winter Olympics in the Russian resort of Sochi.

The law means that anyone wearing a rainbow flag on the street or writing about gay relationships on Facebook, for instance, could be accused of propagandizing.

"We are just against the publicity in our country and I support our government," Isinbayeva said.

Green Tregaro posted a picture of her fingers on social media website Instagram, saying "Nails painted in the colors of the rainbow." She followed that with several hashtags, including "pride" and "moscow2013."

"If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people," Isinbayeva said.

Another high jumper, Bohdan Bondarenko of Ukraine, seized the spotlight when he just missed out on a world record of 2.46 meters and had to settle for a championship record of 2.41 for gold, edging Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar by three centimeters.

On a night of almosts for Americans, Simpson was not the only one to settle for silver.

Jehue Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago threw himself across the finish line to hold off Michael Tinsley by .01 seconds and win the 400-meter hurdles.

Gordon came on strong down the stretch and finished in a world-leading time of 47.69 seconds to edge Tinsley. Emir Bekric of Serbia was third and two-time Olympic champion Felix Sanchez wound up fifth.

It was a similar story in the women's 400 hurdles, even if the margins were bigger. Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic beat American duo Dalilah Muhammad and defending champion Lashinda Demus.

The U.S. silver medal tally ballooned to eight, with a championship leading 14 overall. The United States also leads the gold medal standings with four.

Kenya moved up into second place together with Russia when steeplechaser Ezekiel Kemboi further established himself as the greatest of his era, winning gold ahead of compatriot Conseslus Kipruto for his third world title in a row. It was the fourth straight 1-2 finish for Kenya at the world championships.

Both nations now have eight medals overall, including three gold.

Jamaica is only sixth at the moment but is expected to add many more to its tally when sprinting takes back precedence over the last three days of the championships. The women's 200 final is Friday and both 100 champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Olympic champion Allyson Felix dominated their semifinal heats, keeping Fraser-Pryce's ambition alive for three golds — something teammate Usain Bolt achieved at two Olympics and two world championships so far.

Felix is looking for the same triple she won at the London Olympics last year, combining the 200 with the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

Felix had the top time of 22.30 seconds, but Fraser-Pryce coasted well ahead of the line and still finished with the fourth best qualifying time for Friday's final.

Fraser-Pryce is primarily a 100 sprinter and has two Olympics golds that attest to that, but she said in Moscow that she has never been as ready as this year to add the 200, too.

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