Where Your Dreams Become Reality
Distance Recap from Brussels: Kenenisa Bekele Breaks his 10k World Record: 26:17.53
BRUSSELS -- Living up to overwhelming expectations, Kenenisa Bekele shattered his own world record in the 10,000 meters, clocking 26:17.53 tonight at the Van Damme Memorial Golden League meeting in Brussels.
With a 57-second closing lap, the 23-year-old Ethiopian knocked nearly three seconds from the 26:20.31 standard he set last year in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
"The race was very fantastic," Bekele said after the race. "Today, I had my brother with me. He did everything very good. Today, everything was perfect."
Running in relatively still but quickly cooling conditions, Tariku Bekele, just 18, guided his older brother through the first 5000 in 13:09.19, just shy of the 13:07 target they had set, but still five seconds ahead of his previous record's pace. From there, urged on by the sell-out crowd of 47,000 and the energized African drum group situated on the final turn, Bekele forged ahead on his own, never falling behind record pace. As he sped past the bell, the only question that remained was how fast his performance would be.
"I had to pass the halfway in half the time," he explained at his post-race press conference as the evening's entertainment, The Village People, played their song Macho Man in the cavernous stadium. "It was very perfect. That's why I broke the world record."
"It's incredible what happened tonight," said Tariku Bekele, who has a sub-13 5000 personal best to his credit. "I gave everything as I ran the 5000 meters. I was so happy that we couldn't find the right words. But we didn't need them."
Behind Bekele, five others dipped under 27 minutes; Ugandan Boniface Kiprop (26:39.77) and Kenyan Samuel Wanjiru (26:41.75), second and third respectively, are just 19 and 18. Lost in the mass celebration surrounding Bekele's record-breaking performance was that of the Japan-based Wanjiru, who demolished the world junior record of 27:04.00 set here last year by Kiprop, by an astounding 23.25 seconds.
While Bekele's performance capped the night, another Ethiopian set the tone in the evening's first event on the main program.
Meseret Defar wanted an opportunity to get out from under Tirunesh Dibaba's shadow; given the chance here, she took full advantage with a 14:28.98 win in the 5000, the third fastest performance ever.
"During the race, I never thought about the time, I was only fighting," said Defar, the reigning Olympic champion in the event who was second to Dibaba at the world championships. "But there were so many girls pushing that we had to run a very fast race."
It may have felt like more to the petite Defar, but the race was actually a four-woman tussle for most of the proceedings, with Defar leading fellow Ethiopians Berhane Adere and Ejagayou Dibaba and Kenyan Isabella Ochichi behind the pacemakers Olga Komyagina and Naomi Mugo. Komyagina hit her marks perfectly –just under 2:53 for the first kilometer and 5:45 for the second—before Mugo took over for the next two laps. Behind them, the order changed just once briefly when Adere moved to the front just beyond the three kilometer point.
Defar and Adere broke from the others at the bell, with Defar leaving Adere in the dust with 200 meters to go. After a 62-second last lap, Defar relegated Adere's 14:29:32 African record to the history books.
Saif Saaeed Shaheen too wanted to break his own world record in the 3000 meter steeplechase, but with the pacing work going somewhat awry, he found himself alone just four-and-a-half minutes into the race.
"I'm not sure what happened with the pacemakers," he said. "I was running very comfortably and was expecting someone there after two kilometers."
But nobody was. Nonetheless, the 22-year-old Kenyan-born Qatari's 7:55.51 effort was still the third fastest ever.
"Yes it was disappointing," he said. "I think I'll try [for the world record] again in Monaco."
Behind him, Simon Vroemen kicked with a quick final lap to finish second in 8:04.95 to finally remove the "co" from his title of European record holder. He shared the previous continental standard of 8:06.91 with Frenchman Bob Tahri since 2003. While an impressive run for the 36-year-old nine-time Dutch champion, Vroemen is still eyeing faster times as well as the event's eight-minute barrier.
"Even when I ran 8:06 a few years ago, I said I wanted to be the first non-African under eight minutes," he said. "At the same time I'm not the type of person who wants to speak in black and white. I think everyone's a human. Apart from Stephen [Shaheen], who is really the best in the world, you can see that all the Africans are beatable if you're good. But to me it would be an additional challenge to be the first white person, if you want to call it that, under eight minutes." [For more on Vroemen, see my story for the IAAF at www.iaaf.org ].
Eliud Kipchoge claimed a narrow 12:50.22 win in the 5000, but it didn't come without a very serious challenge.
The 2003 world champion who missed a medal in Helsinki this year, Kipchoge wanted a world leader to make up for his disappointment in Finland. Reaching 7:39.60 at 3000, four seconds behind the pace he requested, a world-leader was out of the question; with Morocco's Abderrahim Goumri comfortably on his heels, even a victory wasn't sealed. As Kipchoge unleashed his kick in the final half lap, the Moroccan's challenge seemed to fizzle. But with his mad dash down the homestretch, Goumri again narrowed to gap, nearly snatching the win from Kipchoge, who sped up through the line only after hearing the crowd react to Goumri's kick. His 12:50.25 lopped nearly nine seconds from his previous personal best.
Double world champion Rachid Ramzi couldn't bounce back from his exhausting six-race series in Helsinki, and finished a well-beaten runner-up to Daniel Kipchirchir Komen, 3:31.13 to 3:32.81. When the Kenyan kicked past him with 250 meters to go, Ramzi had no response.
"I was still tired," Ramzi said. He races again in Rieti, Italy on Sunday, where he'll contest the 800.
In the 800, Bahraini Youssef Saad Kamel took the lead with 250 meters to go and extended it heading into the final turn, precisely when Yuriy Borzakovskiy made his now trademark move. Knocking off runner after runner, the Olympic champion finally passed Kamel, the former Kenyan Gregory Konchellah, in the final two meters to win in 1:44.54, just four one-hundredths ahead of the Bahraini. Canadian Gary Reed was third (1:44.93). With only about three weeks left in the season, no runner has yet dipped below 1:44 this year.
Spaniard Mayte Martinez took the women's race in 2:00.66, nearly half a second ahead of Russia's Tayana Andrianova, this year's world leader.
Elsewhere, Yelena Isinbayeva proved she was human after all, missing out on a world record in the pole vault. After a first attempt clearance at 4.93m, she missed twice at 5.02m. Triple jumper Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia won her event to keep alive her pursuit of the $1 million DK Golden League jackpot. The six-meet series concludes next Sunday at the ISTAF Meeting at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
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