Athletics: Campbell stuns US golden duo with lightning power surge

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The Independent Online

But with the thunder came lightning - and nowhere more so than in the women's 100 metres race at the annual Weltklasse Golden League meeting, where the competition was, well, electric.

Although the withdrawal through injury of the world 100m record holder Asafa Powell had robbed last night's meeting of its most obvious rivalry, leaving the men's short sprint at the mercy of the Olympic and world champion Justin Gatlin, this race had more than enough intrigue to make up for it, given that it included the two 19-year-old Americans who took the world 100m and 200m titles last week, respectively Lauryn Williams and Allyson Felix, and Christine Arron, the only woman apart from Russian triple jumper Tatyana Lebedeva still in contention for a share of the $1m (£560,000) jackpot on offer to those going unbeaten through the series.

The winner came in the unexpected form of Jamaica's Olympic 200m champion, Veronica Campbell, who came through with a late surge from lane six to beat Williams by three hundredths of a second in a personal best of 10.85sec that was scarcely credible in the conditions.

Felix, seventh in 11.18sec, could afford to smile, given that she is still working on her short speed. Arron, ever gracious, smiled even though she could not afford it, having lost her chance of golden riches with fourth place in 10.99.

Tim Benjamin, who finished fifth in the 400m at the World Championships, was one of very few British athletes at a meeting which took place just two days before tomorrow's British Grand Prix in Sheffield. He found it tough going in what was a virtual rerun of the Helsinki final, finishing seventh in a rainswept race won by the world and Olympic champion, Jeremy Wariner, in 44.67sec.

Running in lane seven - the position he was in when he broke 45 seconds for the first time last month in defeating the Olympic champion at Crystal Palace - the 23-year-old Welshman had hoped to run another 44-second race, but had to settle for a time of 45.45sec.

"I got to 150 metres, where I usually kick, and I had absolutely nothing," said Benjamin, who spent the best - or the worst - part of March in hospital after a back injection accidentally pierced his spinal column.

He went on: "I am so tired. I had wanted to get another sub-45sec run, but the conditions made that almost impossible. Maybe the lack of training is telling on me. I'm running Sheffield on Sunday, and I'm due to run at Brussels, but I may have to reassess things now."

Earlier in the evening, James McIlroy ran a season's best of 1min 45.35sec - 0.05sec off his personal best - to finish sixth in the 800m B race behind winner Antonio Reina, of Spain, who clocked 1:44.32.

"I wanted to get under 1min 45sec, but I didn't quite make it," said the Northern Ireland athlete who reached the semi-finals at last week's World Championships. "Maybe I went off too quickly. But hopefully the next two or three races this season will see me do it. I was a little undercooked at the World Championships, but I know I can run faster. I would love to get into [the 28 August Grand Prix in] Rieti - that could be where I do it." If McIlroy can break through that barrier, he will be the first Briton to have done so for 17 years.

The 5,000m specialist Mo Farah offered British athletics another glimmer of hope for the future as he ran 3min 38.62sec to finish seventh in the Under-23 1500m race, a personal best by more than four seconds. Bernard Kiptum, of Kenya, won in 3:35.52.

The opening main event, the women's 3,000m, was won in 8min 29.45sec by Maryam Jamal, one of a number of Ethiopians who has been lured by the superior finances of Bahrain. She received an especially warm reception from the Kop-like crowd under the crown of the bend stand at the Letzigrund, as she lives and trains in Switzerland. A sign of the flexible times.

Another flexible friend - former Kenyan Stephen Cherono, now running for Qatar as Saif Saeed Shaheen - followed up his successful defence of the world 3,000m steeplechase title with an attempt on his world record of 7min 53.63sec, which might have come off despite the rain had he not fallen at the final water jump. He won in 8min 02.69sec, and will now seek to better his record next week at the Brussels meeting where he set it last year.

The men's 110m hurdles involved all three of the Helsinki medallists - but it was won by an outsider, Dominique Arnold of the United States, who was timed at 13.03sec. Michelle Perry claimed the win in the 110m hurdles in 12.55sec ahead of her fellow American, Joanna Hayes.

The women's 400m saw Tonique Williams-Darling, the newly crowned world champion, give best to the 20-year-old American, Sanya Richards, who took silver in Helsinki. Richards won in 48.92sec, the fastest time in the world this year despite the rainy conditions, with Williams-Darling finishing in 49.30.

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