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MELKAMU DISPLAYS IMPRESSIVE MOMENTUM IN OSTRAVA
By Bob Ramsak
(c) Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic (17-Jun)) -- Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar, take note. That seemed to be the signal their Ethiopian compatriot Meselech Melkamu was sending after she battled to an impressive 5000m victory at the 48th Golden Spike here tonight.

Just three days after running 29:53.80 in Utrecht to become the second fastest 10,000m runner of all-time, it wasn’t clear how much of a factor Melkamu would be in what promised to be a fast race against top-notch Kenyans Linet Masai and Vivian Cheruiyot. The 24-year-old raced anyway, raced hard, and won impressively.

“It was a very hard race,” said Melkamu, who despite just three days rest ran aggressively from the gun. Continually pushing the pace, she and Masai exchanged the lead several times, keeping the pace honest, with Cheruiyot trailing just a few meters back. When Cheruiyot dropped out of contention with three laps to go, the two forged on, continuing to exchange the lead. Masai seemed to make her final move at the bell, but Melkamu responded and carried the lead through the bend and through the finish, stopping the clock in 14:34.17, a 2009 world leader.

“I had a very fast run in the 10,000m three days ago, and I’m very tired,” said Melkamu.  “But I’ve had really good training and I’m very well prepared.”  In recent memory, no remotely similar performances have been produced just days apart.

Masai, who finished fourth in the 10,000m in Beijing last summer, was just a few ticks back in 14:34.36, a personal best for the 19-year-old.

*Rudisha Prevails in 800m Clash*
In the packed men’s 800m, the most star-studded field of the night, it was reigning world champion Alfred Yego who was the first to take command, making his move as the field reached the bell. His lead was short-lived, soon overtaken by Ahmed Ismael, the Olympic silver medalist.  The Sudanese then padded his lead to carry a strong advantage off the final bend. Yego faded at this point, leaving David Rudisha to take up the challenge. Slowly closing the gap, Rudisha ate up the difference before pulling away for the victory less than three strides from the finish, clocking 1:44.09.

“It’s not a bad time,” said Rudisha, who clocked a 1:43.53 career best in Hengelo two weeks ago. “I didn’t start very fast and wanted to run from behind.

Closing strongly as well, Olympic 1500m silver medalist Asbel Kiprop was third (1:44.54) and Berlin 1500m winner Augustine Choge fourth with a 1:44.86 personal best.

The B race was swift as well, with South African Samson Ngoepe kicking past Kenyan Jackson Kivuna, 1:45.17 to 1:45.29, both personal bests.

In the women’s 800m Briton Marilyn Okoro nabbed a strong victory running from the front.  The only woman to follow a quick pacesetter, Okoro was challenged in the home straight but hung on to take her first win of the season in 2:00.21.  Frenchwoman Elodie Guegan was a surprise second (2:00.44) and another Briton, Jenny Meadows, third (2:00.48). Olympic steeplechase champion Gulnara Galkina-Samitova was never a factor, finishing well back in 10th (2:01.98.)

*Keitany Cruises in the Mile*
With his key rivals thus far this season contesting the 800m here, Haron Keitany was given some breathing room and ably took the mile with a solid 3:49.57 run. Briton Andy Baddeley, winner at Oslo’s Dream Mile last year, gradually worked his way from fourth to second over the last lap to finish second in 3:51.83 in his first middle distance race of the season.

As the winds picked up into the early evening, they ruined any world record ambitions Ezekiel Kemboi may have had in the men’s steeplechase, so he was content with a solid victory over key rivals Brimin Kipruto and Paul Kipsiele Koech.  Kemboi prevailed in 8:09.55, with Olympic champion Kipruto second (8:09.95) and Koech (8:10.22) third. Benjamin Kiplagat set a Ugandan national record of 8:12.98 in sixth.

As last year, the pre-program kicked off with a long distance world record assault, but this time Dire Tune came up a bit short.  First, in a bid to add to her One Hour world record set here last year (18,517m), The Ethiopian missed by 215 metres, knocking off 18,302. She forged ahed to tackle the 20,000m distance as well, eventually reaching the line in 1:05:35.3, a scant nine seconds shy of Tegla Loroupe’s 1:05.26.6 standard from 2000. Tune’s was nonetheless the second fastest performance ever at 20,000m.

Kenyan Leah Malot was well back in second in both races (17,343m/1:10:35.0).

The star of the evening was triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt, who was the main attraction for the 20,000-plus who packed every nook and cranny of Mestsky Stadium. Despite a poor start, Bolt fought back to clock a wind-assisted 9.77.

ENDS

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