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LetsRun.com's 2009 IAAF Berlin World Championships Preview
Men's 5,000m - Can Bekele Claim 1st 5km World Crown? Or Will Reigning Champion Bernard Lagat Again Rise To The Top?
When: August 23 (finals), 20 (prelims) *10,000m final is August 17
Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele will have a bulls-eye on his back as he attempts to win the 5,000m/10,000m double in Berlin like he did last year in Beijing. The world record holder and perhaps the greatest track & field distance runner of all time will likely be shooting for his second gold medal of the championships in the 5,000m final on August 23rd, just a few days after competing in the 10,000m final.
Bekele decided to attempt to win the Golden League $1,000,000 Jackpot in the 5,000m and 3,000m this year, months after injuries had sidelined him from the IAAF World Cross-Country Championships, his bread and butter race. So far on the track he has gone 4-for-4, winning in Paris, Rome, Oslo and Berlin. His form has, if anything, improved throughout the season, as he clocked 7:28 for 3,000m on July 17 and 12:56 (world leader) for 5,000m on July 10.
Kenyans have been eager to get their chance at dethroning Bekele, the 14-time world champion (12 times in cross-country) and 3-time Olympic champion. Their best hopes lie with 2008 Olympic podium winner Eliud Kipchoge. Kipchoge is one of the greatest 5,000m runners of all time and is in excellent shape. This won't be an easy win for Bekele, especially after the 10km. Kipchoge, his lesser-known teammates Vincent Chepkok and Joseph Ebuya, and Ugandan Moses Kipsiro will be fresh and hoping to pull a major upset.
We'll tell you some more about Chepkok, Ebuya and Kipsiro. Chepkok ran 13:06 as a 19-year-old. He's barely 21 now and ran 13:01 for 4th in Berlin this year. Medal contender? Yes. He beat Kipchoge in winning the Kenyan trials. He's young and WCs are when names are made. Ebuya is also crazy talented. How does 12:51 as a 20-year-old sound to you? He hasn't run as well this year, though he grabbed second in Nairobi to book a flight to Berlin. Medal contender? No. Hasn't run jack in Europe.
Kipsiro might be the biggest threat to Bekele out there. He was second in the IAAF World XC Championships this year in Amman and he got third behind Bernard Lagat and Kipchoge in Osaka in 2007. What most impressed us was a little-noticed 7:30 in Monaco Herculis for the win and national record. He already has the Ugandan record at 5k in 12:50. Don't sleep on Kipsiro and an Ugandan upset special!
The American trio of 2007 World Championships 4th-placer Matt Tegenkamp, Chris Solinsky and Evan Jager have the same coach in Jerry Schumacher and have been running well this summer after re-locating to Portland, Oregon. Tegenkamp ran 13:07 in Heusden, mixing it up and defeating a couple of 13:00-type Kenyans. Tegenkamp looked to have a strong kick off of a relatively fast pace, but will need even more closing speed to match his amazing 2007 accomplishment of 4th place.
The 5,000m in Osaka was an extremely memorable race, as Tegenkamp just missed Kipsiro for 3rd, and Kenyan-born American Bernard Lagat looked amazingly smooth in passing Kipchoge and Bekele's younger brother Tariku Bekele. Somali-born UK citizen Mo Farah, another 2009 entrant in top form, was in the lead at the bell. Watch the last 600m in the video to the left.
And now we turn to the 34-year-old reigning world champion Bernard Lagat. Lagat could be deadly in a tactical 5,000m, but will presumably have raced three rounds of the 1,500m and the 5,000m preliminary by the time he toes the line against Bekele. We point out his age for a reason. Can he really be expected to kick past THIS field again? Past Bekele, Kipsiro and Kipchoge?
Lagat is often hard to figure out as he will run a bunch of mediocre races and then come through with an amazing championship performance. This year he had his usual mix. His miles, 3,000m and 5,000m races have been very good, but not as good as the best in the world, Bekele and Asbel Kiprop. World top-10 performances but nothing truly breathtaking. Any races below 1,500m have been lackluster, but this is nothing unusual for Lagat.
Berlin will undoubtedly come down to a fierce finish, and nobody has been better at finishing world-class championship races than Bekele and Lagat. We think the Kenyans will kill themselves trying to stay with Bekele but will have to settle for 2nd at best.
Men's 5,000m Statistics By LRC Coaching Guru John Kellogg
12:56.23 Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) PR 12:37.35 (WR) (2005) Gold medal in 2008 Olympic Games, silver medal in 2004 Olympic Games, bronze medal in 2003 World Championships