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Friday, March 9, 2012
Nataliya Dobrynska wins pentathlon

Associated Press

ISTANBUL -- Another Olympic year, another gold medal for Nataliya Dobrynska. Too bad this one came five months early and leaves her as the one to beat at the London Games.

"I don't like to be a favorite," she said. "When I am in the shadows, that is good for me."

The 2008 Olympic heptathlon champion from Ukraine upstaged defending champion Jessica Ennis and Tatyana Chernova on Friday at the world indoor championships with a sterling long jump and a gutsy concluding 800 meters. She became the first woman to break the 5,000-point mark in the five-event discipline and win the title.

Dobrynska beat the 20-year-old mark of Irina Belova with a score of 5,013 points. Dobrynska was only 9 years old when the Russian set the record of 4,991 points.

"I was confident that I could do it here," Dobrynska said. "I was mentally ready for this record for a long time."

Ennis, who led through the first three events, was left with silver and a British record 4,965 points, and Austra Skujyte set a Lithuanian record of 4,802 for bronze. Outdoor heptathlon world champion Chernova finished fifth.

"It is the worst feeling you could ever have, seeing your name in first place and then in second," Ennis said. "I need to make sure I learn from these experiences, get it right and turn silver into gold this summer."

Ennis is one of the host nation's most bankable Olympic stars.

It was only the second gold for Dobrynska after she also upset the favorites at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She had been waiting to get the record for a long time.

"There was always a little something going wrong that prevented me from breaking it," she said.

Dobrynska's performance earned her a payday of $90,000. It also came on a day when the starting gun and bad acoustics at the Atakoy Arena were very much big players, eliminating some of the top sprinters from the three-day event.

Amid near-incessant complaining from athletes, unbeaten Lerone Clarke sat in the blocks for almost half a second after the gun. He didn't advance from the first round of the 60 meters.

American runner Kristi Castlin failed to finish her 60-meter hurdles race because she thought everyone would be pulled back for a false start. It didn't happen and it turned Sally Pearson into even a bigger favorite.

The Australian lived up to her billing when she set a continental record of 7.85 seconds in the heats and saw one of her toughest rivals go out.

In the shot put, the United States continued its domination with Ryan Whiting taking the gold with a world leading 72 feet, 2¼ inches.

Outdoor world champion David Storl of Germany took silver with a throw of 71-9½ and Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski had bronze with a Polish national record of 71-3¼.

"I am happy to give another gold to the U.S. in the shot put and to start the year on the right foot," Whiting said.

In a packed program, Ethiopian great Meseret Defar set off on her quest to become the first female athlete to win five world indoor gold medals in a row, easily winning her 3,000 heat.

If the Ennis-Chernova duel turned into a one-woman show for Dobrynska, the 3,000 face-off between British runner Mo Farah and American rival Bernard Lagat also failed to deliver. Augustine Choge of Kenya won and Farah was second, followed by Lagat.