University High School and University of Washington graduate Brad Walker won the men’s pole vault on Sunday at the Rieti Grand Prix track and field meet in Rieti, Italy.
Walker cleared a lifetime-best 19 feet, 6 3/4 inches en route to the victory. It was the second best vault in the world this year. He failed in three attempts to clear 19-9 3/4 for an American record.
Former Washington State Cougar standout Bernard Lagat won the men’s 1,500 meters with a time of 3 minutes, 29.30 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year.
Aziz Zakari of Ghana ran under 10 seconds in the 100 meters and he didn’t care that Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell were not at the Rieti Grand Prix to see it.
Zakari won with a meet record of 9.99 seconds, matching a career best. Powell set the world record of 9.77 two months ago; Gatlin is the Olympic and world champion.
“Today’s my day,” Zakari said. “With them or not, if I run 9.99 I’m going to be happy.”
Tyson Gay of the United States, fourth in the 200 at the worlds, finished second in 10.08, and Britain’s Jason Gardener was third in 10.09.
Powell and Gatlin have dominated the sprints this season. Zakari, however, has quietly posted important victories, such as his Golden League victories in Paris and Oslo. Two more events remain in the outdoor season — the Golden League meet in Berlin on Sunday and the finals in Monaco on Sept. 9-10.
Blake surprises at Pilot Pen
James Blake beat Feliciano Lopez 3-6, 7-5, 6-1, completing an improbable run from unseeded challenger to champion of the Pilot Pen tournament in front of a hometown crowd in New Haven, Conn.
Blake, who was raised in nearby Fairfield, was the biggest draw of the tournament and said the raucous crowds gave him confidence as he upset higher ranked opponents every day.
Alinghi ups winning streak
Defending champion Alinghi of Switzerland extended its winning streak to 18 match races, beating two of the worst teams in the Louis Vuitton Act 6 regatta in Malmo, Sweden. BMW Oracle, the only boat from the United States, also won both races.
The Louis Vuitton Acts are a series of 14 regattas that started last year as a prelude to the 2007 America’s Cup. The results of these races will help seed the competition for the 2007 challenger trials.
The round-robin series ends Tuesday. The entire armada will then be on the water for three days of fleet racing that begin Sept. 2.
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