Williams wins gold, Howard silver in Helsinki

08-08-2005

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Tom Surber
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HELSINKI, Finland - It was "Ladies Night" Monday as Lauryn Williams (Miami, Fla.) and Chaunte Howard (Atlanta, Ga.) won the first women's medals for Team USA at the 2005 World Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Helsinki.

Just before the start of the women's 100m final, a strong rain shower began to fall at Olympic Stadium. At the gun Williams burst out of the blocks and grabbed an early lead that she never relinquished in winning the gold medal in 10.93 seconds. The 2004 Olympic 100m silver medalist in Athens, Williams defeated 2004 Olympic 200m gold medalist and 100m bronze medalist Veronica Campbell of Jamaica, who finished second in 10.95. 2004 Olympian Christine Arron of France finished in 10.98 to win the bronze medal.

2005 USA Outdoor champion Lisa Barber (Raleigh, N.C.) placed fifth in the final in 11.09 seconds, with 2005 USA Outdoor runner-up Muna Lee (Baton Rouge, La.) finishing seventh, also in 11.09. In addition to Barber and Lee, two other competitors, Chandra Sturrup of the Bahamas (fourth) and Jamaica's Sherone Simpson (sixth), also were timed in 11.09.

In the nine previous World Outdoor Championships, American women have won the 100m gold medal on six occasions. In addition to Williams, other U.S world 100m champions include Gail Devers (1993, 10.82), Gwen Torrence (1995, 10.85), Marion Jones (1997, 10.83 - 1999, 10.70) and Torri Edwards (2003, 10.93)

Earlier Monday evening, Barber and Lee competed in the first 100m semifinal, with Barber finishing third in 11.08, and Lee placing fourth in a seasonal best time of 11.10. In the second semifinal, Williams took command with 30 meters to go and cruised to the victory in 11.03 seconds.

Howard wins silver medal in women's high jump

An exciting women's high jump competition came down to a classic one-on-one battle for the gold medal between Chaunte Howard (Atlanta, Ga.) and Sweden's Kajsa Bergqvist.

Bergqvist cleared 2.00 meters/6-6.75 to put the pressure on Howard, who responded with a clearance at that height on her final attempt, which equaled her personal best set in Liege, Belgium, on July 20, 2005. A two-time world outdoor championships bronze medalist (2001, 2003) Bergqvist cleared a world-leading 2.02m/6-7.5 on her first attempt to take the lead for good. Howard missed on her three attempts at that height, with her final attempt being her best.

With her effort, Howard becomes the first American woman to win a world outdoor championships high jump medal since National Track & Field Hall of Famer Louise Ritter won bronze at the inaugural World Outdoor Championships in Helsinki in 1983.

After not qualifying for the final at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Howard has enjoyed a strong 2005 season that includes runner-up finishes at the USA and NCAA Outdoor Championships.

Webb advances to 1,500m final

Shortly after the start of the second men's 1,500m semifinal, reigning U.S. champion Alan Webb (Reston, Va.) grabbed the lead and built it to as much as 10 meters. Webb held on to that advantage until he was caught and passed by Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain, who went on to win the race in 3:34.69. Webb qualified for Wednesday evening's final with his runner-up finish in 3:36.07.

2005 USA Outdoor third-place finisher Rob Myers (Rushville, Ohio) ran 3 minutes, 42.38 seconds with his 10th place finish in the first men's semifinal, and two-time U.S. Junior champion Chris Lukezic (Alexandria, Va.) placed eighth in the second semi -- neither advanced to the final.

Richards, Trotter, Henderson qualify for 400m final

2005 U.S. Outdoor champion and 2004 Olympic 4x400m relay gold medalist Sanya Richards (Austin, Texas) posted the second-fastest time in women's 400m semifinal action Monday night in winning the first semifinal in 50.05 seconds.

Richards will be joined in Wednesday night's final by her Olympic relay teammate Dee Dee Trotter (Knoxville, Tenn.) who was the runner-up in the second semifinal in 50.73, and fellow Olympic relay gold medalist Monique Henderson (Bonita, Calif.), who placed fourth in the third semifinal in 50.73.

Elsewhere on the track, two-time Olympic Games finalist Abdi Abdirahman (Austin, Texas) finished 13th in the 10,000 meters in 27:52.01. 2004 Olympic Games marathon silver medalist Meb Keflezighi (San Diego, Calif.) dropped out of the race with 10 laps remaining with a sore right quadriceps muscle.

Four-time USA champion Elizabeth Jackson (Salt Lake City, Utah) who won convincingly at the 2005 USA Championships in June, placed ninth in the women's 3,000m steeplechase final in 9:46.72. 2004 USA Outdoor Championships third-place finisher Carrie Messner (Carbondale, Colo.) was 15th in 10:11.20.

For more information on Team USA at the 2005 World Outdoor Track & Field Championships, visit www.usatf.org.