Champ Dragila makes shock exit at world meet

  • Other Sport
  • Monday, 17 Mar 2003

BIRMINGHAM: Olympic and world pole vault champion Stacy Dragila suffered an embarrassing exit from the world indoor championships on Saturday as hosts Britain celebrated a double gold medal haul. 

American Dragila, who regained the world indoor record by jumping 4.78 m this month, could not muster a single clearance in qualifying. 

“What do you want to talk about? It was a bad day,” said a forlorn Dragila before slipping away from Britain's National Indoor Arena. 

America picked up two gold medals on the second day of the championships as Michelle Collins ran the third-fastest women's 200m of all-time indoors. 

Compatriot Dwight Phillips had earlier taken long-jump gold with the final leap of the competition, winning by just one centimetre. 

Ashia Hansen and Marlon Devonish earned rapturous ovations from the home crowd after winning the women's triple jump and the men's 200m respectively, while Ethiopian Berhane Adere romped to 3000m gold in the absence of three-times former champion Gabriela Szabo. 

Dragila's showdown with Russia's European champion Svetlana Feofanova was expected to be one of the highlights of the championships. 

But the 31-year-old, who also holds the outdoor world record of 4.81m and had returned to top form this year after injury problems in 2002, blew her chances by spurning three attempts at a height five centimetres short of the qualifying standard. 

"To quote Forrest Gump, life's a box of chocolates and you never know what you are going to get when you open it up," Dragila said of her disappointing performance. 

Collins followed up fellow American sprinter Justin Gatlin's success in the 60m on Friday by powering to 200 m gold in 22.18. 

Only world record holder Merlene Ottey (21.87), who was born in Jamaica but now runs for Slovenia, and Russia's Irina Privalova (22.10) have run faster on an indoor track. 

Collins said that despite her quick time, she had been suffering from a hamstring injury. 

A leap of 15.01 metres, the best in the world this year, was enough to secure Hansen triple jump gold in her home city. – Reuters 

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