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Americans earn 3 more golds on final day of worlds

Lashinda Demus, Allyson Felix, Debbie Dunn and Sanya Richards of the United States, from left, celebrate after winning the gold medal in the final of the Women's 4x400m relay during the World Athletics Championships in Berlin on Sunday.
Lashinda Demus, Allyson Felix, Debbie Dunn and Sanya Richards of the United States, from left, celebrate after winning the gold medal in the final of the Women's 4x400m relay during the World Athletics Championships in Berlin on Sunday.
Michael Sohn, Associated Press

BERLIN — Americans LaShawn Merritt, Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards each won a second title at the world championships in the 1,600-meter relays Sunday.

While the Jamaicans ruled the sprints, it was all U.S. in the longer relays, with the Americans winning by huge margins in both.

When 400 champion Richards took the baton home, she put the United States ahead of the Jamaicans for good in the overall medal standings.

"It was incredible. My teammates were phenomenal," Richards said.

Merritt followed it up by anchoring the men's team to victory.

"Championships are all about getting the medal," the men's 400 champion said after getting the same two golds as at the Beijing Olympics.

In the final medal standings, the United States had 10 golds and 22 overall, with Jamaica second with seven gold and 13 overall.

"We did an awesome job," Jamaican relay runner Novlene Williams-Mills said.

The United States also got a surprise individual gold from Brittney Reese in the woman's long jump, beating defending champion Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia with a jump of 23 feet, 3 1/2 inches. Reese's victory came one day after American teammate Dwight Phillips won the men's long jump.

Kenenisa Bekele earned a second long-distance double in as many years by adding the 5,000-meter title to his 10,000 victory — the same feat he accomplished at the Beijing Olympics.

The Ethiopian extended his reign after first holding off a Kenyan challenge in mid-race then outlasting defending champion Bernard Lagat of the United States in a thrilling sprint to the line.

An elated Bekele slapped his chest with an open hand and beamed.

"It was a very hard race," he said after becoming the first Ethiopian to win 5,000 world championship gold. "I'll never forget this race.

"I never made a double in the Olympics and world championships. I'm so happy."

So was Lagat, who was running with four stitches in a numbed up left ankle after he was spiked in qualifying.

"I didn't know I was going to run," the American said. "It is a huge cut."

Bekele finished in a slow 13 minutes, 17.09 seconds, with Lagat .24 seconds behind. James Kwalia C'Kurui of Qatar took bronze in 13:17.78. Both the silver and bronze medalists are Kenyan-born.

A win for Bekele partly salvaged the championships for Ethiopia, which saw its women's running team underperform while rival Kenya surged up the standings. Bekele's gold was Ethiopia's second, compared with Kenya's four.

Ethiopia could have added a third in the 1,500, but favorite Gelete Burka was pushed to the ground by Natalia Rodriguez of Spain in a hectic final 200 meters. The Spaniard crossed the line first but was disqualified, giving defending champion Maryam Jamal of Bahrain the gold medal.

Earlier on the closing day of the competition, Bai Xue shook off Yoshimi Ozaki of Japan in the latter stages of a sun-drenched women's marathon through the heart of the German capital to clinch China's first ever major title in the event.

The world's most populous country with 1.3 billion people finally had a title to celebrate as Bai waved the red flag with five yellow stars around, with a few Chinese fans dancing wildly under the Brandenburg Gate.

Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway won his first world championship javelin title after finishing second twice. Thorkildsen won with a throw of 295 feet, 1 inch.