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World Track & Field Championships

Gay, Felix continue gold rush

Tyson Gay (right) hands the baton to Leroy Dixon, who held off the Jamaicans in the 400 relay, earning the US the gold medal. Tyson Gay (right) hands the baton to Leroy Dixon, who held off the Jamaicans in the 400 relay, earning the US the gold medal. (DAVID GRAY/REUTERS)

OSAKA, Japan - Tyson Gay won his third gold medal at the World Championships. For Allyson Felix, it is two - and counting.

With his ninth race in eight days, double sprint champion Gay ran a devastating final curve on the US 400-meter relay team yesterday to set up his triple. Only Carl Lewis and Maurice Greene had previously won three golds at a single World Championship.

"The 4-by-1 put the icing on the cake," Gay said. "This was the 'funnest' medal I got."

Felix can join the select group of triple titlists if she can help the US 1,600 relay team to victory today. The 200 winner won gold on successive days when the American women won their sprint relay late yesterday.

"It was my first relay tonight, it was a great feeling, and I can't wait to do it again tomorrow," she said.

The women held back their celebration until the men streaked across the line in first place soon after. Then they set up the biggest group hug of the week.

After winning the 100 and 200, Gay showed no fatigue as he set up anchor Leroy Dixon for victory over the favored Jamaicans.

"I'm extremely tired, but my teammates told me to go and do it one more time and get it done," Gay said.

As he handed the red baton over to Dixon, Gay screamed "go," urging the anchor runner on amid the din of the capacity crowd of 50,000 at Nagai Stadium.

And go Dixon did, doing enough to hold off surging world record-holder Asafa Powell, who ran a blistering leg to earn Jamaica the silver.

Gay was already pumping the air before Dixon crossed in 37.78 seconds, 0.11 ahead of Powell. Britain was third.

The three golds set up Gay as the US star heading into next year's Beijing Olympics. Lewis won three world golds in 1983 and 1987, combining the 400, 1,600 relays, and long jump. Greene's three golds were in the 100, 200, and 400 relay in '99. Lewis also won four golds at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

"I didn't come into these championships thinking about three gold medals," Gay said, arguing that the rivalry with Powell in the 100 had created enough pressure as it was. "I think that's why I got it accomplished."

To make the US night even better, Brad Walker won the pole vault by clearing 19 feet, 2 3/4 inches on his first attempt. France's Romain Mesnil took silver, jumping the same height on his second try. Germany's Danny Ecker took bronze at 19- 3/4.

A night after winning the 200, Felix helped the 400 relay team build up a lead that even 100 world champion Veronica Campbell could not close on the anchor. Torri Edwards threw her arms up in celebration as she held off the Jamaican by 0.03 seconds to win in 41.98.

Only Marita Koch of the former East Germany achieved triple golds among women at the Worlds, at the inaugural meet in 1983.

Lauryn Williams left the blocks like a bullet, before handing over to Felix, who was already well into her elegant stride. With a good handoff to Mikele Barber, the US runners had built enough of a cushion for Edwards to hold off Campbell.

After the relays, the US led the medal table with 11 golds and 22 overall. Russia had four golds and 13 overall.

Kenya's Catherine Ndereba won the women's marathon this morning, quashing Japan's best chance of gold at the meet.

Ndereba, the 2003 world champion and silver medalist in Helsinki, became the first woman to win two marathon titles at the worlds.

She won in 2:30:37 - 8 seconds clear of No. 1-ranked Zhou Chunxiu of China. Reiko Tosa finished third for Japan's first medal in Osaka.

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