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WORLD SPORT

Obikwelu completes European double

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Obikwelu celebrates adding the 200m title to his 100m crown.

GOTHENBURG, Sweden -- Portuguese Francis Obikwelu completed the European championships sprint double on Thursday with a gold medal in the 200 meters.

Obikwelu, who set the fastest European time of the year to retain his 100m title, won comfortably in 20.01 seconds.

"I have been waiting for this gold for four years and now I am a double champion," said Obikwelu, who was awarded his 2002 gold in the 100m metres in June after Dwain Chambers was stripped of his win after admitting to steroid use.

Obikwelu for once got a good start and took command of the race early on, finishing 0.37 seconds ahead of Swede Johan Wissman in second with Briton Marlon Devonish third a further 0.16 back.

"The whole stadium was cheering for Johan Wissman and this helped me," said Obikwelu. "I did not have a single doubt that I was going to be today's winner."

Obikwelu was beaten into second place at the 2002 championships by Greek Costas Kenteris, who is now suspended for missing drugs tests.

The Nigerian-born sprinter became the first man to complete a 100 and 200 meters double at a European championship since Italian Pietro Mennea at the 1978 Prague championships. Obikwelu was born in the same year.

Obikwelu set his personal best of 19.84 in 1999 when he was still competing for Nigeria. He became a Portuguese citizen in 2001.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria's Vanya Stambolova won the women's 400 meters final, catching Russia's Olga Zaytseva off the final bend to win in 49.85 seconds.

Russia's Tatyana Veshkurova sprinted for the silver in 50.15 seconds, Zaytseva running out of steam in the final straight to settle for the bronze in 50.28 seconds.

Overwhelming favorite Periklis Iakovakis of Greece won the men's 400 meters hurdles final, resisting a late challenge from Poland's Marek Plawgo.

Iakovakis, who has run over a second faster than anyone else in the field this year, clocked a winning time of 48.46 with Plawgo taking the silver in 48.71 and Briton Rhys Williams claiming bronze in 49.12.

Russia, as expected, dominated the women's 800 meters, Olga Kotlyarova outsprinting Svetlana Klyuka to win in 1:57.38.

Klyuka, who was still in the lead 20 meters from the line, took the silver in 1:57.48 with British champion Rebecca Lyne completing the podium in 1:58.45.

The fourth day of the championships had started with Yohan Diniz handing France their third gold medal by winning the men's 50km walk in torrential rain.

The bespectacled 28-year-old, cheered home by the few hardy souls that had remained in the stadium, won over a minute ahead of Spain's Jesus Angel Garcia.

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