Cooray fails in marathon bid
Channaka de Silva reporting from Helsinki, Finland
Sri Lanka’s challenge at the 10th World Athletics Championships ended here in a blank as expected as the last remaining competitor Anuradha Indrajith Cooray failed to finish in the men’s marathon last evening here at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki.

Cooray gave up through injury 23 kilometres into the race following the failures of his two other teammates at the championships, high jumper Manjula Kumara Wijesekara and 400-metre runner Prasanna Sampath Amarasekara who had earlier been eliminated in the first round of their respective events.

Cooray, who has a personal best of 2:16.38 he posted in winning the South Asian title last year, said before the race he aimed to post a time below 2:14.00 and he started off well yesterday remaining in the first bunch of runners till he gave up the raceAfter five kilometers, he was 30th in a time of 15:22, after 10 kilometres he improved to 17th in a time of 30:23-mere 0.01 off the pace of the leader. Then at 15 kilometres, he was lying in 37th place with a time of 45:44 still just 0.11 minutes behind the leader. By the 20th kilometre mark he was beginning to drop and was lying at 38th in a time of 1:01.59, a full minute separating him from the leader.

Defending world champion and championship record holder Gharib Jaouad of Morocco retained his title with an impressive lead, winning in a time of 2:10.10 while Isegwe Christopher of Tanzania claimed the silver in 2:10.21. Ogata Tsuyoshi of Japan won the bronze in a time of 2:11.16.

Interestingly, one of the favourites for the title, Olympic champion Stefano Baldini of Italy also did not finish the race through injury. Meanwhile, Indian Discus Thrower Neelam Jaswant Singh yesterday became the first athletes to test positive for a banned drug at the championships and has been provisionally suspended by the IAAF. The 34-year old who won the women’s discus title at the Asian Games in Busan, Korea had tested positive for the prohibited substance, pemoline, the IAAF said in a release yesterday. The test had been conducted in-competition in Helsinki on last Sunday.

Over 700 of the 850 targeted tests for the championships had already been carried out, and this was the first positive case, the IAAF said. In a major anti doping drive, the IAAF testing almost every one of two athletes here.
Ladji Doucoure of France stunned everyone in the men’s 110 metres hurdles final which was expected to be a contest between China’s Olympic champion and joint-world record holder Xiang Liu and four-time world champion Allen Johnson of the United States.

The 22-year-old Frenchman clocked 13.07 for his victory, with Liu finishing second at 13.08 and Johnson third at 13.10. Johnson hit seventh and eighth hurdles but managed to stay abreast with the other two runners and it was a very close finish with all three first men hitting the finish together.

Another of America’s impressive young brigade at these championships,19-year old Allyson Felix won the women’s 200 metres in a time of 22.16. Her teammate Rachelle Smith produced a brilliant dash in the final 50 metres to emerge from the fourth to second for the silver over France’s Christine Arron who collected her second bronze at the championships. Both Arron and Smith clocked an identical 22.31, but Smith won on photo finish evidence.


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