Jamaica's Walker wins 400m hurdles

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Jamaica won another battle in its Olympic sprinting duel with the U.S on Wednesday when Melaine Walker took the women’s 400 metre hurdle race ahead of Sheena Tosta.

Walker was slow out of the blocks and spent most of the race trying to make up her early deficit. The two runners arrived at the last 100 metres nearly even before Walker powered away.

Walker finished in an Olympic record of 52.64 seconds, well ahead of Tosta who ran 53.70 seconds, tying up and struggling to maintain her pace.

Britain’s Tasha Danvers, seen as an outside contender for a medal, was third in a personal best of 53.84 seconds.

Tiffany Williams of the U.S., who holds the world’s second fastest time this year, finished eighth and last in the race.

Jamaica has now collected seven medals in Beijing, all in sprinting events, including coveted golds in both the men’s and women’s 100m races.

The women’s hurdle race came just minutes after Jamaica’s Usain Bolt won the 200m in a world record time of 19.30 seconds. Bolt, taking time to finish his victory lap, had to be ushered off the track to allow the women’s race to start.

The hurdle race became an open contest earlier this summer after world record holder Yulia Pechonkina of Russia and reigning world champion Jana Rawlinson of Australia both pulled out of the Olympics due to illness or injury.

editing by Keith Weir