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Lagat Captures First Title as US Citizen at World Athletics Championships

Bernard Lagat has won his first world championship and his first major title since becoming an American citizen. From the World Athletics Championships in Osaka, Japan, VOA's David Byrd reports on the 1500 meters race and the rest of the day's action.

Bernard Lagat wanted to win his first gold medal before Wednesday. He had come close, winning world and Olympic silver medals while running for his native Kenya.

When he became an American citizen, he could not compete in the 2005 World Championships because of citizenship regulations.

In Osaka, Lagat fulfilled his dream when he sprinted past defending champion Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain to win the 1500 meters in three minutes, 34.77 seconds. Afterwards, Lagat said that he had waited a long time for the feeling he had on the Osaka track.

"It feels like this is a dream come true. You know what, I have been waiting since 2004 and finally it came together at the right moment. I am a champion for the United States of America," Lagat said.

Ramzi won the silver medal .23 behind Lagat. Kenya's Shedrack Kibet Korir took bronze (3:35.04).

Michelle Perry of the United States knew what it was to win world gold. The 2005 champion successfully defended her title in the women's 100 meters hurdles race in 12.46 seconds. Perry described her feelings after the race.

"Relief more than anything, because it is difficult to win two world championships. And I did, and I am thankful for the people the supported me and all the prayers that were with me," she said.

Former champion Perdita Felicien of Canada won silver (12.49) while Delloreen Ennis-London of Jamaica won bronze (12.50).

Britain won gold and silver in the women's 400 meters race. Christine Ohuruogu won the gold (in 49.61 seconds) and Nicola Sanders took the silver (49.65). Novlene Williams of Jamaica won the bronze.

In the women's discus, 39-year-old Franka Dietzsch of Germany won her third world title with a toss of 66 meters, 61 centimeters.

Darya Pishchalnikova of Russia took the silver medal (65.78 meters). Yarelis Barrios of Cuba won the bronze (63.90).

Donald Thomas of the Bahamas won the gold in the men's high jump by clearing two meters, 35 centimeters. The Bahamian is in only his second year of serious competition in the high jump.

Russian Yaroslav Rybakov, the 2005 silver medalist repeated that performance in Osaka (also 2.35 but with more attempts). Kyriakos Ioannou of Cyprus won the bronze (2.35). Athens Olympic champion Stefan Holm of Sweden finished fourth.

After five days of competition, the United States leads the medals table with 10 medals, five of them gold. Russia is second with nine medals, including three golds. Kenya is third with eight medals, including three golds.