Sept. 23, 2002
At the 9th IAAF World Cup Track & Field Championships held over the weekend (Sept. 19-21) in Madrid, Spain, UCLA great Gail Devers won the women's 100m hurdles and former Bruin distance standout Meb Keflezighi placed fourth in the men's 5000m.
On Saturday, Devers overpowered the women's 100m hurdle field and finished one of her finest seasons, leading her event from start to finish and breaking the tape in 12.65 seconds. On Friday, Devers ran the anchor leg on the U. S. women's 4 X 100m relay that placed second (42.05) to the Americas (41.91). In 1997, the same U. S. lineup of Chryste Gaines, Marion Jones, Inger Miller and Devers set the American record in the women's 4 X 100m relay (41.47).
"I don't know what the wind was doing and my form showed it," said Devers, who owns the best time in the world this season in the women's 100m hurdles (12.40). "This is my first World Cup and to come out with a victory, I'm really pleased. After yesterday (2nd in the 4 X 100m relay), I wanted to redeem myself and get some points for the team. I'm pleased with my season. It's my first year coaching myself. I made a couple of mistakes, but I learned to listen to my body. I'll be better next year. I think I learned a lot about myself and about hurdling."
In men's competition on Friday, Keflezighi, the U. S. 10,000m champion and record-holder, ran an impressive race in the 5000m, leading through much of the race and ultimately finishing fourth (13:33.44). The winner was Spain's Alberto Garcia (13:30.04).
"I tried to get the USA on the distance map and be competitive," said Keflezighi, who this season has won five USA track and road race national titles. "I thought I did that. I would like to have medaled, but I ran the race I had to run and scored points for the team."
In team totals, Team USA men placed second (119), their best finish since they won the World Cup in 1989, having placed fifth in 1992, sixth in 1994 and fifth in 1998. Africa defended its men's crown with 134 points and Europe was third (123).
In women's team totals, Russia won with 126 points, beating Europe (123), the Americas (110) and Team USA (105). Team points among the nine teams competing were earned in each individual event with nine points for first, down to one for ninth.
U. S. athletes qualified for the World Cup by winning their events at the 2002 USA Outdoor Championships, June 21-23 in Palo Alto, CA.
In 2006, the World Cup, held every four years, will be contested for the first time in the U. S. and Los Angeles will be the host city. The meet will be held at The Home Depot National Training Center, a world-class 85-acre amateur and professional sports development currently under construction (completed in June 2003) in the greater Los Angeles area on the campus of CS Dominguez Hills. It will be a four-day holiday celebration of track & field, with three days of competition and one day of opening ceremonies taking place over the Labor Day weekend. A coalition of USA Track & Field (USATF), AEG and the Los Angeles Sports Council offered up the successful bid for the 2006 World Cup. The World Cup will be the first major IAAF event on the U. S. soil since Boston hosted the 1992 World Cup Cross Country Championships and it will be perhaps the biggest international track & field event ever held on UCLA soil, outside of the Olympics.