Gail Devers sped to victory today in the 100-meter hurdles, winning her third world title in the event. Ludmila Engquist of Sweden, battling back from breast cancer, finished third.
Devers skimmed over the 10 hurdles in 12.37 seconds, a new American record and the fastest time in the world in seven years.
Nigeria's Glory Alozie took the silver in 12.44.
Engquist, competing between chemotherapy treatments, was timed in 12.47.
Devers and Engquist hugged and kissed each other on the cheeks within seconds of finishing the race, and set off together on victory laps around the Estadio Olimpico.
Engquist, draped in a Swedish flag, stopped to embrace her coach and husband, Johan. Devers also exchanged kisses with Enquist's husband.
Engquist shares a special bond with Devers, who overcame Graves' Disease, a potentially fatal thyroid disorder.
"I was really proud of Ludmila that she came back and accomplished what she did," Devers said. "Let everybody know if you are believing in yourself dreams do come true."
The victory gave Devers five career World Championship gold medals, putting her first on the all-time list ahead of Jackie Joyner-Kersee. Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson lead the men's list with eight golds apiece.
Devers' time broke her previous American record of 12.46 seconds, set in 1993 at the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. It was the world's fastest time since Engquist ran 12.26 seconds in Seville in 1992.
Devers burst quickly from the blocks, was first over the first hurdle and pulled away throughout the race. Engquist got off to a slow start and trailed badly for the first half of the race. But she came on strongly in the final stages and was just beaten for the silver by Alozie, who out-leaned her at the line.
Enquist's performance capped the most remarkable and inspirational story of the championships.
The Russian-born Swede, the 1991 and 1997 world champion and 1996 Olympic gold medalist, was diagnosed with breast cancer in March. She had her right breast removed on April 21, and returned to competition July 30, winning a race in Stockholm.
Engquist has continued to train through four chemotherapy sessions. She is due to undergo the fifth of sixth rounds of treatment next Thursday.
Before the championships, Engquist had said she only hoped to reach the final. But she won all of her qualifying heats, including a dazzling 12.50 in Friday's semifinals, to establish herself a serious contender for the gold.
Four other finals were on the night's program: men's marathon, long jump and 5,000 meters, and women's javelin.
Also scheduled were the heats in the men's and women's 400-meter and 1,600-meter relays.
Maurice Greene, the men's 100 and 200 champion, and Inger Miller, the women's 200 gold medalist, were expected to run in the short relays.
Miller won the 200 Friday night in 21.77 secons, her best time ever and fastest in the world this year. It was her first major championship victory, topping the silver medal she won in the 100 last Sunday.
Greene destroyed a modest field to capture his first major 200 title in 19.90 seconds, his fastest time of the year.
Greene, who won the 100 title in 9.80 seconds, became the first man to complete the double at a major global meet since Carl Lewis swept both short sprints at the 1984 Olympics.
Greene and Miller both belong to HSI, the team of runners who train in Los Angeles under the tutelage of sprint guru John Smith and manager Emmanuel Hudson.
So far, the HSI (which stands both for Hudson Smith International and Handling Speed Intelligently) sprinters have won three gold medals and one silver at the championships, with the chance for a share of more medals in the relays.
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