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WORLD MEET ONLY A BORE FOR THE LOSERS

Michael Johnson didn't have the same perspective as Carl Lewis on the just-concluded fifth World Championships.

One reason could be that only the United States took more gold medals than the American speedster."It was a great week. I'll never forget it," said Johnson, who came close to breaking two world records and became the first man to win both the 200- and 400-meter titles at a major international championship.

For his part, Lewis, who was injured and didn't compete, thought the meet was boring.

After running the fourth leg of the 1600-meter relay, Johnson wound up with more gold medals than any other athlete. He now totals six, four fewer than Lewis, who failed to compete in the long jump or relay because of injury.

"One athlete in particular complained it wasn't a good championships and it was boring," Johnson said, without mentioning Lewis by name. "This was my third World Championships and it was one of the best I've been to."

There were other athletes who probably would disagree with Lewis.

Triple jumper Jonathan Edwards broke the world record twice with consecutive leaps; sprinter Gwen Torrence crossed the the line first in three races but was disqualified in one, and her rival, Merlene Ottey, went home with three more medals to raise her total to 13, three more than Lewis.

Kim Batten and Tonja Buford were inside Sally Gunnell's world record in the 400-meter hurdles, only .01 separating the two Americans as they dipped for the line.

Triple jumper Inessa Kravets added .41 centimeters - slightly more than 11/2 inches - to the world record and Cuban long jumper Ivan Pedroso - who's waiting to hear if his leap of 29 feet, 43/4 inches is ratified to beat Mike Powell's world mark - took away the American's world title.

Because he was injured, Lewis didn't get the chance to contribute to the American team's total of 12 golds, two silvers and five bronze medals. No other nation managed to get more than two golds.

Sergei Bubka maintained his sweep of titles in the pole vault, taking it to five, and four athletes - decathlete Dan O'Brien, steeplechaser Moses Kiptanui, discus thrower Lars Riedel and 1,500-meter runner Noureddine Morceli - all won for the third straight time.

In Sunday's final day of competition, the U.S. swept both women's relays, taking the 400 in a 1995 world-leading 42.12 seconds as Gwen Torrence outdueled Jamaica's Ottey on the anchor. They also won the 1,600 in 3:22.39, the fastest by an American team this year.

Canada, anchored by 100-meter champion Donovan Bailey, won the men's 400 relay in 38.31. The Czech Republic's Jan Zelezny, the Olympic gold medalist and world record-holder in the men's javelin, won his second straight title with a toss of 290-7.

Kenya's Ismael Kirui, 20, won his second consecutive men's 5,000 title in 13:16.77, and Bulgaria's Stefka Kostadinova, the world record-holder in the women's high jump, won at 6-7 for a repeat of the title she won in 1987.

Then there was Ana Quirot.

"This is the most beautiful victory of my life," said the Cuban winner of the 800 meters final 21/2 years after she was nearly burned to death.

A mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water, which she was using to wash her clothes on the stove, flowed over the lip of the pot, down the sides and burst into flames. Quirot had not realized the cooker was on when she poured the alcohol into the pot.

Still badly scarred, Quirot has made a remarkable comeback and crowned it with Sunday's victory in Ullevi stadium. She produced a late burst to get past two rivals and win the title in 1:56.11 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year.

"In my worst moments," she said. "I never thought that I could come so strongly."