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14:24.68 Women's 5k World Record for Elvan Abeylegesse
by Bob Ramsak
(c) 2004 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
June 11, 2004


(BERGEN, Norway) -- Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey demolished the world record in the 5000 meters, running 14:24.68 as the six-meet TDK Golden League series got underway this evening at the Evergood Bislett Games in Bergen, Norway.

Already the world leader in the 1500 (3:58.38) and 3000 (8:35.83), the former in her debut over the event, the Ethiopian-born Abeylegesse, who has lived in Turkey since 1999, arrived in Bergen in top form, but her remarkable run still came as a shock to many.

"I worked very hard, day and night," Abeylegesse said, speaking through an interpreter. "My target since the first day I started running has been to break world records and become Olympic champion."

The first of her goals began in earnest when she moved into the lead for good midway into the race. Pace maker Oksana Belyakova reached the first kilometer in 2:49.56, three seconds ahead of Jiang Bo's world record pace, with sisters Tirunesh and  Ejegayehu Dibaba, Sentayehu Ejigu and Abeylegesse in close pursuit. Ejegayehu Dibaba, the world 5000 meter champion's older sister, lead briefly until Abeylegesse took over, turning the race into a gutsy solo performance by the petite 21-year-old. She broke from the field at the 3-k point (8:37.84), building an almost seven second lead with four laps remaining, a margin she extended to nine seconds a lap later. Reaching 4000 meters in 11:30.43, Abeylegesse was a staggering ten seconds ahead of record pace. With the strain of her effort visibly apparent, the thunderous roar of the capacity crowd of 15,000 pushed her to a 66.6 last lap, eclipsing Jiang's 1997 record by more than three seconds. Tirunesh Dibaba reached the finish in 14!:30.88, a world junior record for the 19-year-old, with sister Ejegayehu Dibaba third in a PB 14:32.74. Abeylegesse pocketed a 50,000 euro bonus for her effort. [More on Abeylegesse forthcoming.]

Taking the lead at the bell, Bernard Lagat held off Ivan Heshko's late-race charge to win the 1500 by a foot in 3:34.08 to the Ukrainian's 3:34.11.  Remarkably, it was the first-ever Golden League win for Lagat.

"Now I know how Hicham [El Guerrouj] feels when he's always winning the Golden League," Lagat said, smiling.  "I felt really good tonight, so I was just able to relax. Holding off Heshko today is unbelievable, so that tells me that my speed is coming." Next up for the defending Olympic bronze medallist are the Kenyan Olympic trials in two weeks, hardly the proverbial "done deal."

"It's going to be very tough, that's why I want to take it seriously. That's why winning this race gives me confidence, because these are the same guys I'm going to meet at the trials.  It's going to be a very tough competition."

Kenyans Alex Kipchirchir (3:34.33) and Timothy Kiptanui (3:34.65) were third and fourth, with Briton Michael East fifth in 3:34.85, a personal best for the Commonwealth champion.

Confidently looking over his shoulder ten meters from the finish, Yuriy Borzakovskiy sped past Wilfried Bungei down the homestretch for a resounding victory in the 800, clocking 1:44.41 to the Kenyan's 1:45.04.  2003 World Indoor champion David Krummenacker of the U.S. was relatively pleased with his sixth place finish (1:45.64).

"I haven't really started with any speed work, so it went pretty well," said Krummenacker, who was second last week in his seasonal debut in the event. That aspect of training won't kick in until after the U.S Olympic Trials. "I'm really trying for August to be the best month of running I've ever had."

John Kibowen, a two-time World Cross Country short course champion, held off a multi-flank Ethiopian attack to win the men's 5000 in 13:01.94.

"I am an old man, but I'm still here," the 35-year-old said, joking with reporters after the race. "I hope that I can pick up the form in the next two weeks before the Kenyan trials."

Ethiopians Gebre-Egziahber Gebremarian (13:02.28), Mulugeta Wondimu (13:02.42) and Dejene Berhanu (PB 13:03.19) finished 2-3-4, ahead of Craig Mottram's 13:03.37, the second Oceania record for the 23-year-old Australian this spring.

Displaying uncanny consistency, Ukrainian Iryna Lishchinska took top honors in the women's 1500 for the second time this week, clocking 4:03.76. Her winning time in Ostrava on Tuesday was 4:03.74. Maria Cioncan of Romania was second in 4:04.17, with 17-year-old Ethiopian Meskerem Legesse third in 4:04.88.

Despite a gloomy forecast, the rains stayed away, with sunshine and blue skies making brief appearances for the first time in three days. The men's and women's 1500, the men's 800, and the women's 3000/5000 are Golden League events this summer; the next GL meeting is Rome's Golden Gala on Friday, July 2.
*Results


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