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Tariku Bekele, Kipchoge Lead 5000m Qualifying as All 3 Americans Advance
By David Monti
(c) 2007 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
*
Watch the replay of the 5000m heats on Demand on WCSN (Day 6 Evening session)

OSAKA (30-Aug) -- Tariku Bekele of Ethiopia, the younger brother of Kenenisa, and Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, won their respective heats of the 5000m as the 11th IAAF World Championships finished its sixth day at Nagai Stadium.

Bekele recorded an improbably slow time of 13:46.42 to win his heat off of a very slow initial pace.  Indeed, there was such a large group of athletes still together at the bell that Algeria's Khoudir Aggoune, Kenya's Isaac Songok and Joseph Ebuya, and Morocco's Ahmed Baday were unable to advance to Sunday's final despite finishing within two seconds of Bekele.  Only the top five from each heat automatically qualified for the final.

"I was worried about the weather," Bekele said in a statement released by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation. "It was very difficult out there and I hope to do well in the final."

Jesús España of Spain, Bernard Lagat of the USA, Hicham Bellani of Morocco, and Moses Kipsiro of Uganda were the other qualifiers from the first heat.  Lagat won the gold medal in the 1500m last night.  He chose to celebrate with an ice bath and a pizza before getting to bed to rest up for tonight's race.  The slow pace definitely saved him precious energy.

Kipchoge won the second race in 13:33.37, so all the time qualifiers came from the second heat.  It was American Matt Tegenkamp who broke the race open by picking up the pace with two laps to go, banging out a 60.5 second circuit.  At the bell, five men were away: Kipchoge, Tegenkamp, Abreham Cherkos Feleke of Ethiopia, Craig Mottram of Australia and Adam Goucher of the United States.  Kipchoge and Cherkos essentially finished together, with Tegenkamp fewer than two seconds back, qualifying easily.

"It was nice to get out and run," said Tegenkamp of his decision to take the lead with two laps to go.  "I got perfect positioning."

Mottram eased up before the line, assured of a qualifying spot, but Goucher had to continue to dig to the finish line.  He lost concentration before the bell and momentarily thought he was about to finish the race a lap early.

"I don't know the hell my problem was," said a frustrated Goucher who was passed by three rivals in the last 200m.  Tegenkamp was quick to remind his teammate that they had both made the final.  With Lagat advancing from the first heat, the United States put three men in the 5000m final for the first time in the history of these championships.

"It's about time," said Tegenkamp with pride in his voice.

As for Mottram, the bronze medalist from Helsinki, he called his heat "a step in the right direction."

Defending champion Benjamin Limo of Kenya finished seventh and advanced on time.  Ethiopia's Sileshi Sihine decided not to run as he was still feeling fatigued from Monday's 10,000m final where he earned the silver medal.


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