Athletics: Schippers scorches Beijing, Merritt misses golden send-off

Schippers reacts after winning the women's 200m final.
Schippers reacts after winning the women's 200m final.REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers ran into the history books after scorching to world 200m glory on Friday, but there was no golden send-off for Aries Merritt before next week's kidney transplant.

Schippers, the 100m silver-medallist, clocked an electrifying 21.63sec, the fourth fastest time in history, as she lunged at the line to beat Jamaica's Elaine Thompson, who timed a personal best of 21.66sec - the fifth fastest time ever.

It was a remarkable win for Schippers, 23, who eclipsed the European record of 21.71sec set by Marita Koch in 1979 and matched by fellow East German Heike Drechsler in 1986.

Only Americans Marion Jones and world record-holder Florence Griffith-Joyner have run the 200m faster than Schippers, who won hepathlon bronze at the Moscow worlds two years ago.

But Schippers was quick to distance herself from doping allegations that plagued Koch, Drechsler, Jones and "Flo-jo".

"I know I'm clean and I work very hard for it," said Schippers. "I do all the dope controls and I don't want to say more than that."

The Dutchwoman added: "I'm very happy with my time and the European record. I hoped coming here for the gold medal and a time under 22 seconds.

"I did it but I can't believe it."


However, there was no golden send-off for Merritt in the men's 110m hurdles, his final race before returning Saturday to the United States for a kidney transplant.

The Olympic champion and world record holder won bronze behind two-time European champion Sergey Shubenkov of Russia and Jamaican Hansle Parchment.

"It means the world to me to be back here and to get a medal," said Merritt, who will receive a kidney from his sister on Tuesday after being diagnosed with a rare disease in the wake of the 2013 worlds in Moscow.

"I am looking forward to my kidney transplant. My sister will give me one and this is why she did not come to Beijing - she didn't want to endanger the transplantation."

The evening's two other medal events were shared between Jamaica and the US, Danielle Williams winning the 100m hurdles for the former and Tianna Bartoletta crowned long jump world champion thanks to a final effort of 7.14m.

The first gold medal of the day broke a win drought for hosts China as Liu Hong led Lu Xiuzhi to a one-two in the women's 20km walk.

Liu timed 1:27.45 for gold with Lu on her shoulder. Ukraine's Lyudmyla Olyanovska took bronze at 28sec.

Elsewhere, American Ashton Eaton sat in pole position of the gruelling multi-discipline decathlon.

The world record-holder and defending champion, also reigning Olympic and two-time world indoor champion, timed 10.23sec in the opening 100m before leaping a best of 7.88m in the long jump, both leading performances.

Eaton, whose Canadian wife Brianne Theisen Eaton claimed silver behind Jessica Ennis-Hill in the women's heptathlon, then managed a best of 14.53m in the shot put, 2.01m in the high jump and a scintillating 45sec dead for the 400m to leave him on 4,703 points overnight.

Canadian Damian Warner sat in second with 4,530 points, with Germany's Rico Freimuth third (4,406), with Saturday's second day of action comprising the 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and final strength-sapping 1500m.

"I was just trying to have fun!" said Eaton.

"It's all about having fun."