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Athletics Records and Personal Triumphs in Helsinki

A world record, a victory over injury and the world's fastest man all highlighted the second day of competition at the World Athletics Championships in Finland.

Race walker Olimpiada Ivanova of Russia opened the medal events Sunday with the first world record of the championships. Ivanova dominated the women's 20-kilometer walk from start to finish, crossing the line in one hour, 25 minutes, 41 seconds. She beat the two-year-old mark by 41 seconds.

The day was also special for Carolina Kluft of Sweden, who successfully defended her world heptathlon title despite a sore ankle. The 22-year-old totaled 6,887 points in the seven-event competition. Her victory over arch-rival Eunice Barber of France came down to a slim margin in the last event, the 800-meter race.

"My heptathlons before have gone very well. I did not have problems with injuries," Ms. Kluft says. "I did not have problems with winds. And they pretty much went the way I thought. But this time it was really tough to get into the competition and not be in 100 percent. And the high jump was very bad for me. And really I had to push myself to keep doing your best until the end."

Meanwhile, two-time Olympic champion Virgilius Alekna of Lithuania retained his world discus throw title. The 33-year-old's final toss was a championship record 70.17 meters. He edged Gerd Kasnter of Estonia by less than two points (68.95). American Jarred Rome was in the early running, but found himself overtaken and impressed by Alekna.

"Usually he is winning by such a big margin," he says. "But the fact that Alekna came back, only legends and people like that do that. Because that is very hard to do. I am very impressed."

U.S. Olympic sprint champion Justin Gatlin clocked a personal best time of 9.8 seconds to win the men's 100-meter title. Gatlin surged from the pack, leaving Michael Frater of Jamaica to fight for the silver medal ahead of Kim Collins of St. Kitts and Nevis. Gatlin describes his approach to the race.

"I think being a sprinter, sometimes you over-analyze your technique, who is waving at you, what teammates are cheering you on, who is calling your name," Mr. Gatlin says. "So you have to block all that out when you go to that starting line. You have to focus on what you have to do. (And) make sure you are the first one coming out of the blocks and you are the first one coming to the finish line."

Also Sunday, Trecia Smith of Jamaica won the women's triple jump with a leap of 15-meters-11 (centimeters).