White Wins Sprint Double at Track Worlds

Friday, August 29th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

SAINT-DENIS, France (AP) _ The United States didn't need Marion Jones to dominate the sprints at the World Track and Field Championships. Kelli White filled that void, and then some.

White accomplished something even the medal-laden Jones has never done. With her dominating triumph in the 200 meters Thursday night, White became the first American woman to win both sprints at a world meet.

Her victory in 22.05 seconds, fastest in the world this year, followed an equally impressive victory in the 100 Sunday. It was an exhausting performance _ counting the preliminaries, eight races in six days.

``I was spent,'' she said. ``I didn't have any energy, even to celebrate. Even holding the flag was hard work.''

White had enough energy, though, to bolt out of the blocks in one of her best starts in a race that was no contest. Russian Anastasiya Kapachinskaya was second in 22.38. American Torri Edwards, silver medalist in the 100, finished third in 22.47.

White, who burst onto the scene this outdoor season after failing to even qualify for the world indoors, downplays any comparison to Jones, who sat out this season for the birth of her son. But Jones vows to come back strong for the Athens Olympics next season, and White will be there as a formidable foe.

``I can only be Kelli White. I don't think I can be anybody else,'' White said. ``I made a mark for myself and I hope I'll be appreciated for who I am. A lot of the women here feel underappreciated, and I think we've all proven that we can run very fast.''

White isn't finished yet. She plans ``to have some fun'' in the 400 relay this weekend. If she runs, and the Americans win, White will be the first woman to win the ``sprint triple'' at the worlds.

Germans Silke Gladisch in 1987 and Katrin Krabbe in 1991 won the 100 and 200, but their relay teams failed to take the gold.

Nine years ago, at age 17, White survived an unprovoked knife attack that required more than 300 stitches. The wounds required plastic surgery, and she still bears a scar above her left eye.

She went on to an unremarkable career at Tennessee, but she kept up her training and, at 26, finally emerged on the world stage vacated temporarily by Jones.

The U.S. men advanced to the finals in the 200 on Thursday. Darvis Patton won his semifinal heat in a personal-best 20.03.

``I didn't mean to run that fast,'' Patton said. ``I knew it was fast, but I didn't think it was that fast.''

John Capel won the other heat in 20.18. J.J. Johnson barely made it with a 20.36.

``I'll go clunk J.J. on the head awhile to wake him up, then we can come out and sweep tomorrow,'' Capel said.

The biggest surprise of the day was Italian Giuseppe Gibilisco's victory in the men's pole vault. He had finished 10th in his previous three competitions.

``It was a magic night,'' he said. ``World champion _ mamma mia!''

Other winners Thursday were Cuba's Yipsi Moreno in the women's hammer throw and Australia's Jana Pittman in the women's 400 hurdles. American Sandra Glover won a silver medal in the hurdles. It was the first medal at the worlds for the four-time U.S. champion.

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