Mixed start at the World Champs

Chrysopygi Devetzi of Greece took fifth place in the triple jump yesterday, the second day of the 10th World Athletics Championships in Helsinki, Finland. Devetzi’s performance was the best in a rather disappointing first two days for the national track and field team. The biggest disappointment came in the women’s 20-kilometer walk yesterday morning, when Olympic champion Athanasia Tsoumeleka was disqualified for running. She had been in third place, though with no chance to challenge the eventual winner, Russia’s Olimpiada Ivanova. Disqualification happens often in an event where athletes are under pressure to conform to the walking rules – at least one foot must be touching the ground at all times – while trying to maintain a lead or catch up with athletes in front of them. The fact that it came at a very late stage in the race, however, made it more painful for the 23-year-old. Tsoumeleka’s disqualification helped the other Greek in the race, Athina Papayianni, move up to sixth place, with a time (1 hour, 29 minutes, 21 seconds) just 23 seconds off her own Greek record, but almost four minutes behind Ivanova’s world best. Devetzi had qualified in top position for the triple jump final, but the second-place finisher at last year’s Olympics was nowhere near last year’s form. Fortunately, so were her competitors, with the exception of the eventual winner, Trecia Smith of Jamaica, who won with a 15.01-meter jump. Devetzi jumped 14.64 meters, but could have won second on her fifth jump, which was ruled barely null after she stepped into the springboard by less than half a centimeter. Pericles Iakovakis ran a fine race in the 400-meter hurdles quarterfinals to win his heat, but started late in the semifinal and after a bid to challenge for one of the two places leading to an automatic finals berth faded in the stretch to finish fifth in 49.28 seconds, over a second below his best. Aphroditi Skafida, in the pole vault, and Dimitra Dova, in the 400 meters, where nowhere near their top and were eliminated. Maria Karastamati, at 21, made it to the 100 meters semifinal, with a time of 11.29 seconds. The young sprinter has run 11.03 seconds this year but, even if she matches that time this afternoon, she will be hard pressed to qualify against some seasoned veterans, like the Bahamas’ Chandra Sturrup and Ukraine’s Zhanna Block. She also told Greek TV that she is injured and unsure of whether she will even run today. On Saturday, Alexandros Papadimitriou failed to earn one of the 12 spots in the men’s hammer throw final, finishing 13th.

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