BERLIN // Sanya Richards ran the fastest women's 400m of the season at Berlin's Golden League opener yesterday to throw down the challenge to the Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu. With the world championships to be held here in August, Richards raced across Berlin's Olympic Stadium track in 49.57secs to show Britain's Beijing champion Ohuruogu that she is the one to beat to claim world gold.
"I came here to run fast, I didn't even go shopping before the race, so I saved all my energy for this race," the American joked. "I am looking forward to coming back in August and leaving Berlin with gold." Richards made no secret she was disappointed to lose to the Briton in Beijing, but the 24-year-old has been world No 1 since 2005 and is eager to underline her consistent form with the world crown here later this summer.
A share of the US$1million (Dh3.67m) jackpot is up for grabs for any athlete in the 10 jackpot events who win all six Golden League meetings. Kenyan middle-distance runner Pamelo Jelimo was the outright millionaire winner last season, but one-lap specialist Richards is on track to become only the second woman to capture a piece of the jackpot for a third time. Russia's Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva won the women's pole vault competition, also staking a claim for the jackpot.
World high jump champion Blanka Vlasic is already out of the running after she was beaten by home hero Ariane Friedrich, the European indoor champion. To the crowd's delight, Friedrich leapt 2.06m to set a German record and claim victory. While triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt passed over his chance to claim a share of the jackpot, opting to run 10.00secs in Canada over the weekend, his training partner Daniel Bailey took the men's 100m here.
"I came here to win this race, so I can't be disappointed," said Bailey. "I came here sick and I am recovering from flu, so my time is alright." * Agencies