Bernard Lagat Meets His Match As Caleb Ndiku Gets Gold, Lagat Silver, Rupp Fourth

March 9, 2014

Bernard Lagat finally met his match.

Lagat was going for a record fourth ever and third straight World Indoor 3000m title at the advanced age of 39. Lagat still had his patented kick on Sunday in Poland, but he was beaten by a younger version of himself as 21 year old Kenyan Caleb Ndiku was too good the final lap and held off Lagat. Dejen Gebremeskel got bronze and Galen Rupp was a clear fourth ahead of Hagos Gebrhiwet.

After the first 1600 was tremendously slow (4:28.60), this one was destined to come down to the kick, so positioning became ever more important. With four laps to go (5:32.86), just like in his semi-final, Ethiopia’s Dejen Gebremeskel was in last. With three to go, Gebremeskel had moved up to 3rd as his countryman Gebrhiwet had the lead.  Lagat and Rupp had both gone wide to make sure there were in decent position. With 500m to go Caleb Ndiku, the former World Junior 1500m and XC champ, took the lead. He would never give it up as they hit 400 to go in 6:33.45. The battle for positioning had been fierce, but with 300m to go, the skilled tactician Lagat put himself in perfect position in second behind Ndiku.

The Battle for the Medals The Battle for the Medals

At the bell, it was Ndiku, followed by Lagat, and Gebremeskel and then Rupp and Gebrhiwet side by side. Ndiku, Lagat, and Gebremskel would open up a gap on Rupp the next 100m and they would battle for the medals the last 100m. Rupp gapped Gebrhiwet for fourth on the backstretch. Lagat stayed in Ndiku’s slip stream coming around the final bend.

Lagat was poised to strike coming off the final bend, but Ndiku was too good on the last straightaway as he slightly extended his lead to the finish getting the win in 7:54.94 ahead of Lagat’s 7:55.22.

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Gold of Ndiku, silver for Lagat, bronze for Gebremeskel, fourth for Galen Rupp.

Leader to leader the final 1000m had been a brisk 2:22.58 and the two guys with the fastest 1500m prs came out on top.

QT Lagat Remains Tied with Gebrselassie: Bernard Lagat met his match today and likely forever will remain tied with Haile Gebrselassie at 3, for the most world indoor 3000m titles (Lagat had won 2 straight and won one with Kenya in 2004). Ndiku is a younger version of Lagat, having tremendous 1500m speed (3:29.50 last year), and being nearly half the age of Lagat (21 vs 39). A world indoor silver at 39 is an incredible accomplishment.

Bernard Lagat Post Race Interview:

QT#2 Rupp’s Speed Isn’t Good Enough at the Shorter Distances: Rupp ran well for 4th. Coming in, we said a medal for Galen Rupp would be very difficult because this race had tremendous firepower up front. That proved to be the case, but this was a very solid performance from Galen. Starting with his final year at the University of Oregon, Rupp has improved his finishing speed more than just about anyone ever in the world, but he still doesn’t have the wheels to get the job done in global championship races 5000 or below.
Galen Rupp Post Race Interview:

QT #3: Lagat Now 19-1 vs Rupp
For his career now, Galen Rupp’s record against Bernard Lagat in final races they both finish (they both have one DNF against each other) is one win and 19 losses. The one win was special however – it came in front of the Hayward field crowd at the 2012 Olympic Trials and both Rupp and his coach Alberto Salazar (who was not in Poland this weekend) went to the University of Oregon. In track and field, the favorite often wins, but Lagat’s consistency as he ages against an improving Rupp is amazing.

 QT #3: Ndiku The Next Kenyan Star?
Ndiku’s has tremendous success as a junior winning World XC and the World junior 1500 title.  Winning at the senior level is a different task and Ndiku and Souleiman in the 1500 may have established themselves as the sports next mid d stars.

Ndiku was happy to have won gold for Kenya (Kenya only one two medals at World Indoors with Hellen Obiri getting silver at 3000).

When asked about the race, Ndiku said he was expecting a slow race which suited him just fine given his 3:29 1500 pb. “Without the rabbit, I knew it was going to be slow so I was just waiting for the last lap to push so hard,” said Ndiku.

Caleb Ndiku Shows His Hair Caleb Ndiku Shows His Hair

A BBC reporter asked Ndiku about having to face the Kenyan born Lagat. Ndiku to be honest didn’t seem too concerned as he said he’d raced Lagat earlier this year in Germany and won “so easy” in a race that served as the Kenyan Trials.

In the prelims, Ndiku wore a cap. Tonight, the cap was off and it was revealed he’d been hiding read hair. When asked about that, he said, ““I’m getting new fans each and every day so I knew my fans back home were waiting to see what I was going to present to them so I had to look for something funny to make them happy.”

As for the rest of the year, Ndiku says the goal is the Commonwealth Games and possibly African championships. He reiterated the desire he expressed yesterday and said he hoped to face Mo Farah when Farah was at “full force.”

Gebremeskel Settles For Bronze, Final KM of Race 2:22.58
Gebremeskel’s said pushing the pace would have been “risky.

We asked Gebremeskel if he and fellow Ethipian Hagos Gebrhiwet considered working together to push the pace as this race basically turned into a hard 1k (leader to leader the last 1k was 2:22.58) and the guys with the two best 1500 times went 1-2.

Dejen said it was considered but that ultimately they determined there were lots of guys in the field with similar times in 2014 and thus it would be hard to push the pace from the front and still have something left at the end

“It is risky, that is why (we didn’t push the pace),” said Gebremeskel.

Gebremeskel wasn’t thrilled with bronze but was proud of the effort he gave and happy he erased the memories of his 2013 Moscow bomb in the 10,000 where he went in as the #2 pick on paper but finished 16th.

“I’m ok (with bronze). It’s not bad for me. I expected gold but I was fighting to the end, up to the last 50 meters so a medal for me is good as at the last World Championship I got no medal and that was bad for me” said the 2012 Olympic 5000 silver medallist.

Dejen Gebremeskel 3K interview:

Cam Levins after the race was relatively satisfied.

“It was ok. Obviously you alway hope for higher,” said Levins who pointed out this was his first global top 10. Levins said the big goal now becomes the Commonwealth Games where he hopes to do the 5000/10,000 double.

On the boards: Official 3k thread – Race of the championships
*What was the message on Ndiku’s shirt?
*Did Lagat (39y3mts old) beat Rupp once again?
*I finally understood what Rupp is lacking
*Galen Rupp is the real winner – ran in lane 2/3 the whole time!

Ndiku Over Lagat For World Indoor 3000m title Ndiku Over Lagat For World Indoor 3000m title
1 Caleb Mwangangi NDIKU KENYA KEN 7:54.94
8 Cameron LEVINS CANADA CAN 7:57.37
9 Augustine Kiprono CHOGE KENYA KEN 7:57.46
11 Andrew VERNON GREAT BRITAIN & N.I. GBR 7:58.25
1000m Augustine Kiprono CHOGE KENYA KEN 2:48.83


Your Medalists Pose for (check back later for more photos) Your Medalists Pose for (check back later for more photos)



Caleb Ndiku Shows His Hai Caleb Ndiku Shows His Hair
The Battle for the Medals The Battle for the Medals
4 Laps to Go 4 Laps to Go
3 Laps to Go 3 Laps to Go
2 to go 2 to go
 The Bell The Bell
Final Bend Men's 3000m Final Final Bend Men’s 3000m Final
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