All 5 feet 2 inches of her were soaking wet, yet Lauryn Williams stood before the Finnish crowd with an American flag draped around her shoulders and didn't appear to notice the rain.
Williams, 21, used a good start and strong finish to edge a standout field and win the 100 meters at the world track and field championships Monday night, building her reputation as a runner at her best on the biggest stage.
Williams, the silver medalist at the Athens Olympics, won in 10.93 seconds, two-hundredths of a second ahead of Veronica Campbell of Jamaica. Christine Arron of France was third at 10.98.
"I have a new saying," Williams said. "Silver is good, but gold is great."
With the victory, U.S. sprinters won both 100-meter dashes in Helsinki. Justin Gatlin won the men's race Sunday night. The last American duo to sweep the 100 was Maurice Greene and Marion Jones in 1999 in Seville, Spain.
Williams's triumph brought the curtain down on a night where Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele, already considered the best distance runner in the world at 23, sprinted away from the competition over the final 400 meters to repeat as 10,000-meter champion. American Chaunte Howard, the 21-year-old 2004 NCAA champion for Georgia Tech, won the silver in the high jump in a spirited duel with Sweden's Kajsa Bergqvist.
One year after ripping an Achilles' tendon, Bergqvist won at 6 feet 71/2 inches. Howard matched her personal best of 6-63/4.
Williams had struggled in her first full season as a professional, winning only one race, in June at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore. She barely made the U.S. team with a third-place finish at the national championships.
But Williams grew stronger through the three preliminary rounds in Helsinki.
"The bigger the situation, she definitely is one who can turn it on when it counts," her coach, Amy Deem, said.
Williams joked about her height, or lack of it, saying, "I'm drinking milk so maybe I'll be 5-3 by next year."
A steady rain fell all day, but stopped for most of the evening competition. It started again, though, just before the sprinters stepped into the blocks for the women's 100. Williams had a better-than-usual start, seemed to lose a bit of ground, but stayed with the leaders to lean across the line just ahead of Campbell. She wasn't sure she had won, so she waited to see the results on the big TV screen before beginning her celebration.
Bekele, the reigning Olympic and world champion, stayed with the lead pack, then turned it on during the final lap, outrunning fellow Ethiopian Sileshi Sihine. Bekele won in 27 minutes 8.33 seconds, 48 seconds shy of the world record.
Bekele emphatically said he would not run in the 5,000, citing the death of his fiancee, Alem Techale, of an apparent heart attack during a training run in January.
"I am very tired," he said. "This year has been very difficult for me after I lose my fiancee. I am not preparing very well. I have sadness in my heart."
Meantime, another U.S. youngster, 22-year-old Alan Webb, finished second in his 1,500 semifinal heat. No American has won a medal in the men's 1,500 at the worlds since 1987.
Webb clocked 3:36.07 after Rashid Ramzi of Bahrain passed him with 400 meters to go to win the heat.
"That was my goal all year, to make the final," Webb said.
Webb will be an underdog going into the final on Wednesday. Ramzi has a season-leading 3:30 this year; Webb's best is 3:33.16.