Distance Races Also Thrill at 2008 Reebok Grand Prix
By David Monti
(c) 2008 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
NEW YORK (31-May) -- It is true that most of the 6,000-plus spectators
who filled Ichan Stadium here, especially the 1,000 or so Jamaicans,
came to see explosive sprinters like Usain Bolt, Tyson Gay and Allysun
Felix. Their cheers, deafening during the sprints, were largely
lacking during the distance events, despite the entreaties of RRW's
favorite meet announcer Scott Davis.
However, some exciting sprint finishes in the longer races did get the
crowds on their feet, in particular the finish of the men's 5000m where
Shadrack Kosgei of Kenya and Ali Abdosh of Ethiopia duked it out on the
final 100m, the first race after a 45 minute delay caused by a heavy
thunderstorm. The pair were running close to 13-flat pace throughout
the race, and it took a 56-second final 400m by Kosgei to lock down the
win by just 4/100ths of a second, 13:14.46 to 13:14.50. Abdosh was
sprinting so fast in the final meters he nearly fell as he crossed the
"I thought the sprint was fantastic," said a beaming Kosgei. "I was really strong."
Before the rains came, another Kenyan, Paul Kipsiele Koech, put on a
steeplechase clinic, putting half a lap on the field and making a
serious bid for a sub-8:00 performance or perhaps the USA all-comer
record of 8:04.51 set by Brahim Boulami of Morocco at the adidas Track
Classic in Portland in 2002. He was nearly on schedule for the
sub-8:00 with three laps to go (4:47) and two laps to go (5:51). With
Davis's help, the crowd was now getting into it and helped push Koech
to a 65.6 second final lap. It was enough to get well under Boulami's
ACR, but not quite into sub-8:00 territory.
"I was trying to get under eight minutes and beat the season best of
the year," said Koech who accomplished that goal with a world-leading
8:01.85. But conditions were just too difficult to break eight minutes
he said. "It was too windy."
American Steve Slattery finished a distant second in 8:28.21 in his
first steeplechase of the year. "I came here with the intention to run
8:12," said Slattery who did not finish his 5000m races at the Mt. SAC
Relays or Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational meetings. "My training
is going very well. I wanted to go to Mammoth (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.)
to work on my strength. I think I got stronger. That's what I need to
Lauren Fleshman was delighted with her 5000m race which came after the
Big Rain. Paced initially by Serbia's Marina Muncan, then closely
trailing Oceana 10,000m record holder Kim Smith of New Zealand,
Fleshman surged to the lead with 600m to go, taking a shot at cracking
the 15 minute barrier. A 68.3 second closing lap put her into that
exclusive club with a personal best 14:58.48.
"I tried not to think about the time," said Fleshman wearing the white
and green of the Nike Oregon Track Club. She added: "I don't run well
to think about time." She said she was fortunate to have Smith, who
clocked 15:03.83 in second place, to draft behind in a near-perfect
set-up. "I'm really grateful," she said. "I clipped her about seven
times. I think I owe her a beer now."
Fourth place Ariana Lambie, the former Stanford star, set a personal best in fourth place: 15:19.42.
In the last event to be held before the Big Rain, Yusef Kamel of
Bahrain won the 800m in a spirited sprint against Khadevis Robinson and
Canadian Gary Reed. The former Gregory Konchellah and son of former
world champion Willy Konchellah, ran a meet record 1:45.53 to
Robinson's 1:45.55 and Reed's 1:45.81. [NOTE: The athletes and media
were rushed out of the mixed zone due to the threat of lightning so
there were no interviews conducted after this event --Ed.]
Running in his second professional race, Lopez Lomong won the 1500m
over Kevin Sullivan with a strong sprint out of the final turn. He
wasn't even supposed to run this event and had thought that his manager
had entered him in the 800m. Meet director Mark Wetmore said the 800
was full, so Lomong ran the longer race, instead, clocking 3:37.81 to
"I thought I'd be doing an 800 today," he said with an infectious smile.
Lomong, one of Sudan's "Lost Boys," was raised in the Upstate New York
community of Tully, and saw his run here as something of a homecoming.
He wanted to represent. "It's home, man," he said. "I'm back in New
York. It's like someone knocking on your door. You have to protect
your house. That's what I did here."
Aussies swept the top-2 places in the women's 1500m with Lisa Corrigan
setting a strong early pace and Sara Jamieson sprinting for the win in
4:06.93 to Corrigan's 4:07.57. It was Jamieson's second victory here.
American Amy Mortimer finished third in 4:07.62, her second close
brush with the IAAF Olympic "A" standard of 4:07.00 in a week.
Maryam Yussuf Jamal won the women's 800m in 2:00.42.
* * * * * *
The meet's final event, the men's 100m, was extraordinary. Twenty-one
year-old Usain Bolt not only beat world champion Tyson Gay but broke
Asafa Powell's world record, clocking 9.72 to Gay's 9.85 with a legal
1.7 m/s following wind. The house came down as the crowd, led by the
Jamaicans, went wild and had to be restrained from running onto the
"My coach said concentrate on the drive phase and that's what I did,"
said Bolt. "It doesn't matter if I have the world record if I don't
have the Olympic gold medal."
Liu Zhang scratched from the hurdles with a hamstring injury to his trailing leg.