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Tenth World Athletics Championships End With Flurry of Events


Eight medal events filled a busy final day at the World Athletics Championships in Finland. VOA's Jim Stevenson has more from Helsinki where a British long distance runner found redemption.

Paula Radcliffe wanted to put the pain of dropping out of two Olympic races in Athens behind her. She again entered both the 10,000-meter race and marathon at the world championships. Her shorter race more than a week ago produced just a distant finish. But on Sunday, the marathon world record holder took charge on the cool, damp Helsinki streets.

Radcliffe was never challenged and ran alone into Olympic Stadium to win her first world title in two hours, 20 minutes, 57 seconds. She says the diverse crowd entertained her along the way.

"I heard French voices, I heard German voices, a lot of Finnish. At one point, my name was written on the road like on the Tour de France (cycling race), which was really nice," Ms. Radcliffe says.

Marathon great Catherine Ndereba of Kenya was second (2:22.01) ahead of Romanian Constantina Tomescu (2:23.19).

Osliedys Menéndez set the third and final world record of the championships. The Cuban let the javelin soar 71.70 meters, and says it might have gone farther.

"I do not think my throw was perfect in the technical sense. If I could have been able to throw technically better, maybe the world record would have been even a little better," Ms. Menéndez says.

Bouchra Ghezielle of France was the women's 15-hundred meter winner (4:02.45). The high jump title went to Yuriy Krymarenko of Ukraine (2.32 meters).

Kenya picked up a gold thanks to William Yiampoy, who ended years of personal frustration in the men's 800-meter race (1:44.55).

"Six years ago, I just lost the gold medal at the line," he says. "You know, it is very difficult for us to make a team in Kenya. But this year, I made the team. And finally I have done it this evening. I have secured the gold medal for Kenya. And I am very proud of it."

Russia collected two gold medals on the final day, led by Olga Yegorova who won her second world title in the women's 15-hundred meter event (4:00.35).

"Both were very fun. And both are equal medals to me. And I have different kind of emotions. Maybe the second time a bit less," Ms. Yegorova says.

The Russian women's relay team then passed off the baton to win the four-by-400 meter race. Jamaica placed second while Britain was third.

The final national anthem to be played was fittingly for the United States, whose men's four-by-400 meter relay team (2:56.91) finished first ahead of the Bahamas (2:57.32) and Jamaica (2:58.07).

The win gave the United States a record-setting 14 gold medals, one more that the 1993 U.S. team won in Barcelona, Spain. The 25 overall U.S. medals included eight silver and three bronze. Russia placed second with seven gold, eight silver, five bronze. Ethiopia was third with three gold medals, four silver and two bronze.

The next World Athletics Championships will be in Osaka, Japan In 2007.