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Athletics: Coleman and Dibaba steal show at dramatic world indoors

BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - Christian Coleman looked every inch the natural successor to Usain Bolt as the fastest man in athletics, sweeping in a blur to a majestic 60 metres victory at the world indoor championships on Saturday.

Athletics - IAAF World Indoor Championships 2018 - Arena Birmingham, Birmingham, Britain - March 3, 2018 Christian Coleman of the U.S. celebrates winning the Men's 60m Final Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

A night of remarkable drama at Arena Birmingham saw the great Genzebe Dibaba win her second gold in three days in the 1,500 metres while Czech Pavel Maslak won his third 400 metres crown after a sensational double disqualification.

Yet it was the 21-year-old American Coleman, winner of two silvers at last year’s world outdoor championships in London, who hogged centre stage, following up his world record of 6.34 seconds set last month with an emphatic win in 6.37 seconds.

It was the joint second fastest sprint in history, ensuring that the Atlanta flyer, the fastest man at 100 metres in 2017, has now run the three quickest times ever at the shorter distance.

“I have a good chance to lead the sport in the post-Bolt era but like I’ve told so many others, loads of guys have the talent,” the modest Coleman said after beating China’s Su Bingtian (Asian record 6.42) and U.S. colleague Ronnie Baker (6.44) to the big prize.

The peerless Ethiopian Dibaba, who had lifted the 3,000 metres title on Thursday, had her work cut out to achieve the double in the metric mile but produced another solo tour de force.

Stretching her pursuers to breaking point by powering for home with almost a kilometre left, the 27-year-old kept Britain’s silver medallist Laura Muir and Dutch defending champion Sifan Hassan at bay to win convincingly in four minutes 05.27 seconds.

It made her only the fourth athlete ever to win five individual gold medals in the championships.

“Last year I was sick (when finishing out of the medals at the world outdoor championships in London) but this time I was ready to run for my country,” she said. “This is a gold for all the people of Ethiopia.”

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Maslak sounded almost sheepish about his 400m win after the two athletes who finished ahead of him, Spain’s Oscar Husillos and the Dominican Republic’s Luguelin Santos, were disqualified for running out of their lanes.

American Michael Cherry was promoted to silver, with Trinidad’s fifth-placed finisher Deon Lendore upgraded to bronze.

“They would have beaten me anyway so even if it is gold, it will have a bronze flavour for me,” shrugged Maslak.

A classic heptathlon saw French Olympic champion Kevin Mayer snatch gold in the two-day, seven-discipline slog by just five points from his Canadian rival Damian Warner after a nail-biting 1,000 metre finale.

Warner, needing to beat Mayer by 3.1 seconds to overhaul him, made a rousing effort from the front but could only prevail by 2.52 seconds, winning in two minutes 37.12 seconds.

The U.S. women enjoyed a stellar night with Sandi Morris taking pride of place by ending Katerina Stefanidi’s pole vault domination, handing the Greek bronze medallist her first defeat after 19 straight triumphs.

Morris cleared a championship record 4.95 metres before vain attempts at the world indoor record height of 5.04 metres.

Kendra Harrison roared to the 60 metres hurdles title ahead of compatriot Christina Manning, clocking a championship record 7.70 seconds, while Courtney Okolo dominated the 400 metres for the U.S. to win in a lifetime-best 50.55 seconds.

Poland’s Adam Kszczot, a master of the indoor boards, made his familiar finishing prowess pay in the 800 metres, covering the final 200-metre lap in a searing 25.06 seconds to win in one minute 47.47 seconds.

Neither U.S.quarter-miler Drew Windle (1:47.99), reinstated on appeal for silver after originally being disqualified for obstruction, nor Spanish bronze winner Saul Ordonez (1:48.01) could haul in the three-time European indoor champion.

In the morning, Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas, an athletics heroine who has shone in dark times for her country, again made her compatriots proud as she successfully defended her triple jump crown with a leap of 14.63 metres.

American Will Claye took the equivalent men’s title with a world-leading 17.43m.

New Zealander Tom Walsh won the shot gold with a lifetime best put of 22.31 metres which erased East German Ulf Timmermann’s 31-year-old championship record of 22.24m, the longest-standing world indoor championship mark.

Editing by Clare Fallon