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World Athletics Championships: Medals Awarded in 3 Events on 1st Day of Competition - 2003-08-23

The first day of competition has been completed at the 2003 World Athletics Championships in France, with medals being awarded in three events. The first gold medal at the ninth championships went to Ecuador.

Jefferson Perez captured the first gold medal of the Championships Saturday morning, winning the men's 20-kilometer walk in 1:17:21 hours. The 1996 Olympic gold medalist beat favored Spaniard Francisco Javier Fernandez by 39 seconds to win the first gold medal ever for Ecuador at the worlds.

In other highlights, American runners Kelli White, Tori Edwards and Gail Devers advanced to Sunday's semifinals in the women's 100-meters. Devers was glad to move on.

"My goal was to make it round-by-round and I'm in the semifinals," she said. "I'm going to go home, get some rest, and come back and be ready for tomorrow."

But in a surprise, three-time world shot put champion John Godina of the United States was hurt by a controversial foul on his last throw and failed to advance to the final. Godina blamed himself.

"It was my fault for those first two throws to be in that position anyway," he said. "So, I am not going to blame an official when I could have done the job on the first one or two throws easily and gotten in."

Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus ended up winning the shot put gold with a personal best throw of 21.69 meters. Adam Nelson of the United States took the silver. The final gold medalist of the night was Adere Berhane of Ethiopia, who won the women's 10,000 meters in a championship time of 30:4.18 minutes.