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3RD LEAD Ethiopia's Ayana smashes 10,000m world record; Carter denies Adams By John Bagratuni, dpa

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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Ethiopia‘s Almaz Ayana ran away from her rivals to smash the women‘s 10,000-metre world record and take Olympic gold, as the athletics at the Rio Games got off to an extraordinary start on Friday.

The 5,000m world champion Ayana, racing in perfect conditions but in front of a sparse crowd, pulled away shortly after the halfway mark to triumph in 29 minutes 17.45 seconds.

She took 14 seconds off the mark of 29:31.78 that China‘s Wang Junxia had run in Beijing in 1993, a record which was considered to be unbeatable.

"This means everything for me," Ayana said. "Getting to this point is a dream come true. I never thought that this would happen and I‘m so in awe. I‘m very happy to get here."

Only four other runners had ever run below 30 minutes over the years but none had come within 20 seconds of the time of Wang, who in February admitted to doping many years ago under controversial coach Ma Junren.

But on Friday, Kenya‘s Vivien Cheruiyot took silver in 29:32.53, two-time 10,000m Ethiopian gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba grabbed bronze in 29:42.46, and fourth-placed Kenyan Alice Nawowuna also dipped below 30 minutes with 29:53.51 in an astonishing race.

The fast times may however raise questions at a time when the entire Russian athletics team is suspended from Rio over doping practices, and Kenya and other nations have been hit hard in this area too.

But Ayana insisted she was clean.

"Firstly, I did my training specifically based on the 5000m and 10,000m. Number two, I praised the Lord. The Lord gives me everything, my every blessing. My doping is my training, my doping is Jesus," Ayana said.

In the day‘s other finals, American Michelle Carter claimed gold in the shot-put with the penultimate put of the night. In the process she denied New Zealand‘s Valerie Adams the chance to become the first woman to win three straight gold medals in an individual Olympic athletics event.

Carter scored a national record 20.63 metres to steal the lead from Adams who had 20.42m and failed to respond in her final effort of the competition. Anita Marton took bronze with a Hungarian record 19.87m.

Wang Zhen led a Chinese one-two in the 20km race walk from Cai Zelin, to at last win a gold medal after two world championship silvers and an Olympic bronze. Dane Bird-Smith of Australia took bronze.

In the preliminary action, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica started the quest for a third straight 100m title by winning her heat, and the 2008 gold medallist LaShawn Merritt didn‘t have to break a sweat in the 400m heats in his bid for a 200m/400m double.

Ethiopian world-record-holder and world-champion Genzebe Dibaba eased into the 1,500m semis, and so did Kenya‘s multiple world and 2012 Olympic champion David Rudisha in the 800m heats.

Britain‘s Jessica Ennis-Hill took the overnight lead in the women‘s heptathlon in her bid for back-to-back Olympic golds, with world champion Brianne Theisen Eaton of Canada 186 points behind in sixth.

On Saturday, Ennis-Hill, 10,000m runner Mo Farah and long jumper Greg Rutherford are aiming to repeat the British triple gold of 2012‘s "Super Saturday" in London.

The women‘s 100m and men‘s discus are the other medal events while sprint superstar Usain Bolt will make his first appearance in the 100m heats.



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