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KIPTANUI COMES CLOSE TO STEEPLECHASE RECORD

Moses Kiptanui ran the second sub-8 minute steeplechase in history Friday, finishing only .35 seconds shy of the his own world record at the Van Damme Memorial.

In cold and windy conditions, Kiptanui ran most of the race on his own and finished in 7:59.53 minutes, just short of the record the Kenyan champion set in Zurich last week.Americans Michael Johnson and Gwen Torrence and Britain's Linford Christie all won and remained in the running for some 40 pounds of gold that is the prize for sweeping their events in all Golden Four meets.

After Oslo, Zurich and Brussels, only the Berlin meet remains on Sept. 1, and the gold will split among those who sweep their speciality in all four meets.

Torrence ran the second-fastest 200 of the year on Friday to beat her rival Merlene Ottey in 21.87.

Christie, who was hampered by a hamstring injury during the World Championship final early this month, beat world champion Donovan Bailey for a second time in as many weeks, and took the 100 meters in 10.08 seconds. Olapade Adeniken of Nigeria and Jon Drummond of the United States followed Christie across the finish line.

With fellow-American Butch Reynolds absent, Johnson missed his main rival but gained two strong challengers in Derek Mills and Jamaican Greg Haughton, who chased him up to 20 meters from the line. Johnson finished in a time of 44.64 seconds.

Maria Mutola of Mozambique set a world mark in the rarely-run women's 1,000 meters.

Mutola became the first woman to run the distance under 21/2 minutes. She finished in 2:29.33 seconds.

She broke the record of 2:30.67 set by Christine Wachtel of the former East Germany in 1990.

"I am delighted . . . especially since I felt so bad after my disqualification at the world championships," Mutola said.

The happy scene contrasted sharply with those from Goteborg early this month, when she was favored to win the 800.

But in the first heat, she was disqualified for running outside her lane and broke down in tears.