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Shankule delivers Ethiopian marathon gold, heat is on in decathlon

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Budapest: Amane Beriso Shankule beat defending champion and compatriot Gotytom Gebreslase to give Ethiopia their third women's marathon title in the past five editions of the World Athletics Championships on Saturday.

The runners had to brave scorching and humid conditions in Budapest with temperatures hitting 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit) by the time the race finished.

However, conditions became even more challenging for the decathletes, female shot putters and spectators in the stadium.

Some revelled in it but others like decathlon overnight leader Leo Neugebauer of Germany wilted at the start of day two, the 23-year-old slipping to fourth after the first two events of the day.

Canada's world silver medallist Pierce LePage topped the standings going into the morning's final event, the pole vault.

Whoever prevails will be a new world champion as France's titleholder Kevin Mayer withdrew with an injury on Friday.

- Ethiopia's marathon team effort -

Shankule, whose victory at last year's Valencia marathon put her third on the world all-time list, timed 2hr 24min 23sec to win gold on the streets of the Hungarian capital.

Defending champion Gotytom Gebreslase claimed silver, 11sec behind, with Morocco's Fatima Ezzahra Gardadi taking bronze in 2:25.17.

"We knew if we worked together we could get a better result, and we worked well as a team today," Shankule said of the Ethiopian quartet's race strategy.

Germany, once an athletics powerhouse, are still awaiting their first medal of these championships.

Their hopes were raised by Neugebauer, the world leader this year, holding a 30-point overnight lead over LePage.

However, he dropped to third after a disappointing performance in the opening event on Saturday, the 110m hurdles.

The 23-year-old was given a warning and seemed disconcerted by that, knocking over the first three hurdles to finish in 14.75sec, accruing just 880 points.

Both LePage and his teammate, Olympic champion Damian Warner, passed him in the overall standings as they put on a fine display of high hurdling.

LePage led Warner by 18 points with Neugebauer almost 100 points down on the leader.

- 'Expectations are high' -

LePage had come out all guns blazing on Saturday, turning up the pressure on Neugebauer in the following discipline, the discus.

The 27-year-old's first effort flew out to 50.98m whilst Neugebauer posted a modest 45.26m -- 10m off his personal best.

He managed a slight improvement on his third and final effort of 47.63m which gave him a morale boost ahead of the pole vault.

Neugebauer slipped out of the medal positions altogether after a remarkable three throws by Grenada's two-time Commonwealth Games champion Lindon Victor.

The 30-year-old warmed up with a 51.48m first effort then improved on that with a world-best discus throw in a decathlon of 54.64m to move into bronze position.

He then set the seal on his performance with a 54.97m effort, raising his arms in the circle in appreciation of the applause from the decent-sized crowd.

Just 15 of the 24 who started out remained in competition following the pole vault.

Six failed to make it past the first day and three no-heighted in the pole vault.

Neugebauer battled his way back into second after a spirited pole vault display with a 5.10m clearance.

However, he only holds a 22 point lead over Warner with Victor a further 46 points adrift going into the final two events, the javelin and the 1500m.

LePage is a relatively comfortable 195 points clear of Neugebauer, 7,477 points to 7282.

Should Neugebauer fail to deliver, the Germans will entertain hopes of a medal in the women's shot.

Two of their contenders, Yemisi Ogunleye and Sara Gambetta, reached the final later Saturday.

Ogunleye posted the third best throw in qualification, 19.44m, but it was the Netherlands' European champion Jessica Schilder, who topped it with 19.64m.

"I came here to Budapest as European champion and a world championships bronze medallist," said Schilder.

"The expectations are high and I have to cope with the pressure while I would like to just enjoy competing."


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