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Abdirahman Outkicks Keflezighi for 2005 US 10k Title
Flanagan Is 5000m Champion
By David Monti
(c) 2005 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

CARSON, Calif. (23-Jun) - The first day of the U.S. Outdoor Championships concluded here tonight with a familiar rivalry, but an unexpected outcome.

Abdi Abdirahman, the lanky and affable runner who was born in Somalia, moved immediately to the front of the 10,000m final with his long-time rival, Olympic marathon silver medalist Meb Keflezighi. The pair soon built up a sizable lead on the rest of the field, although the pace was moderate: 2:48.6 through the first kilometer and 5:36.0 through the second, about 28-flat pace for the finish.

His season off to a late start because of a leg injury, Keflezighi was content to follow his much taller opponent and not help with the pace.

"I'm in good shape, just not race shape," said Keflezighi after the race.

Abdirahman continued to circle the track with Meb in tow, and the pace slackened, passing the half-way mark in 14:01.3.  Abdirahman felt comfortable, and he was ready for anything in the second half.

"I was going to do what ever it takes to win that title," he said later.

The two stayed together, and Keflezighi briefly took the lead, but Abdirahman was back in front when they began the bell lap.  Abdirahman accelerated through turn two and Keflezighi chased him down the backstraight, moving to the outside to try to pass Abdirahman through the turns.  The two came out of turn four together, Keflezighi on the outside, and they began their sprint for home.  His long arms pumping furiously, "Abdi" got to the tape first in 28:10.38, some 2/10ths of a second ahead of Keflezighi.

"Last lap I was in good position," said the winner.  "My legs were feeling great."  He credited sprint workouts he did with Olympic 1500m silver medalist Bernard Lagat (both he and Lagat live in Tucson, Ariz.) with allowing him to prevail in tonight's race

For Keflezighi the result was not unexpected.  Short on race sharpening, he was just running off of his base work.  "I have to put this in perspective," he said.  "It's my first track [race] since the [2004] Trials."  He then added, "I did the minimum to do this."

Both Abdirahman and Keflezighi qualified for national team positions for the IAAF World Championships in Athletics with their performances tonight.  Matt Downin, who finished third in 28:34.65 by sprinting away from a chase pack of ten athletes, received a provisional team berth because he doesn't have the IAAF "A" qualifying standard of 27:49.00.  Since no other finishers of the race besides the top-2 have the standard, anyone who gets it by 26-Jul can be named to the U.S. team.  The third spot will be awarded based on tonight's order of finish, assuming the athlete has achieved the standard.


Much of the drama associated with the women's 5000m came after the race was over.

Shalane Flanagan ran a sub-73 second lap through the 2000m mark, and pulled decisively away from the field to win her first U.S. track title going away in 15:10.96.  Because she already possesses the IAAF "A" standard, she earned an automatic World Championships team berth and is looking forward to running some fast times in Europe this summer.

"Seventy-two's felt pretty easy," said Flanagan, a former NCAA star with the University of North Carolina, after the race.  "To break 15 (minutes) will be great this summer.  I won't be satisfied until I do that."

Lauren Fleshman summoned a powerful sprint to finish second in 15:16.80, and earned a provisional team spot because she doesn't have an "A" qualifying standard.  She plans to get it at the Golden Gala in Rome on 08-Jul.

"I really laid it all out there," she said of her final kick.  

Amy Rudolph finished a solid third and, with qualifying time in hand, also punched her ticket for Helsinki.  "It means a lot being top-3, no question about it," she said.

Event favorite, and last year's Olympic Trials champion, Shayne Culpepper, finished fourth in 15:23.31.  She was visibly distraught, moving quickly through the mixed zone past reporters, trying to hold back the tears which were already flowing.  She walked to the fence bordering the track area, sat down alone, and put her head in her hands.  Husband Alan came by to comfort her, but also to motivate her to start in the 1500m heats which would begin within the next 30 minutes.  Both she and Carrie Tollefson (5th in the 5000m) decided to double back in order to get team spots in the shorter event.  Exhausted from their 5000m races, they finished 7th and 9th, respectively in their 1500m heats, their World Championship aspirations probably dashed.  Culpepper can still get to Helsinki if Fleshman fails to achieve the "A" standard which Culpepper already has.


Daniel Lincoln and Anthony Famiglietti both advanced easily to Saturday's 3000m steeplechase finals by winning their heats.  Alan Webb, Rob Myers, Charlie Gruber, and Jason Lunn all advanced in the men's 1500m, with Olympian Grant Robison being the only top athlete who did not advance.  Treniere Clement, Christian Wurth, Sarah Schwald and Jen Toomey led the women's 1500m qualifying, while Kevin Hicks, David Krummenacker, Jonathon Johnson and Khadevis Robinson all advanced to the next round of the 800m.

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