Golden farewell to Osaka by U.S.

Sep 2, 2007 - 2:56 PM By David Martin Special to PA SportsTicker

OSAKA, Japan (Ticker) - Team USA matched the 14 gold medals it won two years ago as it ended the 11th World Athletics Championships on another high note in Osaka on Sunday.

And the U.S. athletes did it in style.

Bernard Lagat became the first man to win the 1,500 meters and 5,000m double, while the sprinters ensured the USA became the first nation to capture all four relay crowns at the same championships.

Breaux Greer's third place in the javelin saw the world's mightiest track and field nation finish with 14 gold, four silver and eight bronze medals.

That put it way ahead of second-best Kenya, who claimed five golds.

Lagat, winner of the 1,500m title in midweek, set the ball rolling, taking the 5,000m.

In a slow race, the opposition played into the hands of the Kenya-born star, who became a U.S. citizen three years ago.

Lagat, representing the USA for the first time at this level, relished the early slow pace - the first kilometer was just outside three minutes and was as slow as in Saturday's women's final.

It set him up for an easy win, even after Britain's European silver medalist, Mo Farah, injected some pace 700m from the finish line.

Farah led until the final 200m when Kenyan's former champion Eliud Kipchoge and Moses Kipsiro, of Uganda, went past, tracked by Lagat.

Once into the home straight, Lagat produced a decisive sprint for the line to win in 13 minutes 45.87 seconds - the slowest time in championship history.

Kipchoge claimed the silver medal, clocking 13:46, with 20-year-old Kipsiro third in 13:46.75.

Lagat said: "I was surprised that the pace was so slow, but that was good for me. Everybody waited until the last lap. I waited until the last 100m. I think I ran a smart race.

Lagat ran the last 400m in 52.8 seconds.

Allyson Felix was a revelation in the 4x400m relay, setting up the win in the second leg after taking over from DeeDee Trotter.

With Mary Wineberg and Sanya Richards maintaining the momentum, the side clocked the fastest time in the world this year - 3 minutes 18.55 seconds.

That wrecked the hopes of Jamaica and Britain, although both posted national records of 3:19.73 and 3:20.04.

"It's great to work together," said Felix, adding to her 200m and 4x100m relay gold medals.

"I ran a very strong leg, but I wasn't sure where I was compared to others. It was my first time running the(400m) relay and it has been amazing."

The men posted the third fastest time of 2:55.56, and finished well clear of the Bahamas and Poland, who responded with marks of 2:18 and 3:05.

LaShawn Merritt and Angelo Taylor, the individual silver and bronze medalists, opened a huge gap of over 20 meters on the first two legs.

Darold Williamson did lose some ground before handing to his training partner, Jeremy Wariner, the individual champion, who was never troubled on the final circuit.

"The other guys put it right before me and I just got it home strong," Wariner said. "We had the the top three for the quarter, so we were dominating the relay."

Wariner added: "World record? The first goal was to win the gold medal and a second goal would have been the world record. We can do that another time."

Greer, who came to Osaka as world leader in the javelin, never got his act together and finished behind Finland's Tero Pitkamaki and Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen.

The Finn threw a massive 90.33m to win the gold medal from his Norwegian rival with Greer producing a best of 86.21m.

"No, I am not really happy," said Greer the U.S. champion. "I hope next year will be better. Sometimes you take what you can get.

"I was bad, I was just off. It would have been nicer to catch one really good throw. I had planned on coming out on the first throw - over 90m - but it did not work."

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