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Stars earn their stripes in Lausanne

American sprinter Marion Jones celebrates after winning the 100m race at Athletissima

(Keystone)

The Athletissima meeting may have begun in unexpectedly controversial fashion, but the sports event itself offered few surprises with American hot favourites Marion Jones and Maurice Greene running away with the showcase 100 metre sprints.

Greene was unable to beat his own world record of 9.79 seconds, but the Olympic gold medallist still lived up to his promise of delivering a fast time on the Pontaise stadium's speedy track. Finishing in 9.90 seconds, the American matched his best time of the season to comfortably beat Trinidadian training partner Ato Boldon into second place.

"I still need to improve on my start," Greene told swissinfo after coming from behind to overtake Boldon. "But I'm getting better as the season goes on. The track here is good and I've had a lot of fun competing here, so that's the main thing."

Jones had made a sluggish start to this season by her own high standards coming into the Lausanne meeting. But the Sydney five-medal winner found just enough speed on Wednesday to cross the women's 100 metre finish line just one hundredths of a second in front of the Bahamas' Chandra Sturrup.

Not to be outdone by the glamorous Americans, Lucerne's Andre Bucher provided the biggest cheer of the evening after comfortably winning his race in the 800 metres. Despite taking on a relatively weak field, the world championship medal hope finished with a blistering time of 1'43"58 - the fastest time recorded by any runner over 800 metres this season.

"That's fantastic," Bucher told swissinfo afterwards. "It's the best thing you can do in sport, running in front of a home crowd who are going crazy cheering for you. And then to win, and with the year's best time - well, what else can you ask for?"

Bern's Alain Rohr became the sixth Swiss athlete to qualify for the world championships, which get underway next month, after recording his best time of the season in the 400 metre hurdles.

Rohr had missed out on the qualifying time for the championships by just eight hundredths of a second during last weekend's Swiss championships in Geneva, but on Wednesday he made the mark, finishing more than three tenths of a second within the 49"50 limit.

Zurich's Marcel Schelbert is still in the hunt for a world championship place, though, after missing out on the qualifying time for the same event by just over two tenths of a second.

by Mark Ledsom, Lausanne


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