Boston, USABerhane Adere's World Indoor 5000m record of 14:39.29 fell only two days short of its first anniversary, as Tirunesh Dibaba scorched an astonishing 14:32.93 at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games yesterday, Saturday 29 January.
Dibaba's solo last km magic secures record
With two members of Ethiopia's Athens Olympic 5000m squad (including gold medallist Mesert Defar) entered in the 3000m, the entry of the third, Dibaba, went little remarked in the longer race, but pacemaker Yelena Kanales set a blistering pace, pulling the race through the first kilometre at 2:55.8 and the second 5:50.9. (All splits are unofficial hand times.) The record attempt, though unannounced, was clearly on. By the end of the first kilometre, Kanales had pulled Dibaba and her older sister, Ejegayehu, the Olympic 10,000m silver medallist, five seconds ahead of any pursuit; after eight laps, the gap was ten seconds and growing.
After the pacemaker stepped off, just past the eleventh lap of the 200m oval, the pace lagged. Dibaba was unfazed. "While we were running with the pacemaker," she reported through a translator after the race, "I felt that I was in high condition and I knew I could break the record."
Dibaba, now leading her sister, was the only one with such confidence, as the splits were now falling behind record pace. The pair reached 3000m in 8:51.3 and 4000m in 11:46.2, at which point Ejegayehu was falling behind.
Over six seconds sliced-off
At this point, Tirunesh, buoyed by the cheers of a substantial Ethiopian emigré crowd, left her sister behind and set off on a blazing final kilometre. Dibaba closed in 2:46, her fastest kilometre of the race by far, and had the record sewn up with two laps to go. When she stopped the clock at 14:32.93, she had trimmed over six seconds from the existing record.
"Initially I thought I was ready, but in the last two weeks (before the meet) I was not sure I was up to the standard," Dibaba said afterward.
Even with a fresh World record, Dibaba's near future is not easily determined. She hopes to qualify for the World Cross Country 4k race at the Ethiopian trials in twenty days, but she is otherwise uncertain about her next race.
Cragg defeats mistaken Bekele
Even after Dibaba's record, the meet's drama was not over. 2004 Athlete of the Year Kenenisa Bekele, running his first race of the year, was defeated in the men's 3000m by Irish Olympian Alistair Cragg. After sticking with Bekele and Markos Geneti throughout the race, Cragg made a strong move for the lead with 500m remaining. Bekele followed, and the pair left Geneti behind. Bekele moved to pass Cragg with 300m remaining, but as they arrived in the homestretch it became clear that Bekele thought the race was about to end, as he moved out as far as the third lane. There was no finish tape, however, and Bekele faltered as he realised he still had a lap remaining. Cragg capitalised on the mistake and re-passed Bekele on the backstretch, going on to win in 7:39.89 to Bekele's 7:41.42.
Cragg, a multiple NCAA champion for the University of Arkansas, had also defeated Noah Ngeny in this same race two years before. "I came up through the NCAA system, where racing is more important than times. Coach (John) McDonnell said if I could be there at the end, I could race with them. Before the race, you can see an Olympic champion, but when you're ready to make a move with 500m to go, he's just someone you're racing with."
Bekele, who had withdrawn from a planned cross-country race earlier this month while in mourning for his fiancée, who died on a training run with him, admitted that the mental lapse was distressing. "I will recoup and try to run better next time."
Record just defies lone running Defar
The women's 3000m, intended to be a World record attempt for Athens 5000m gold medallist Meseret Defar, fell short by less than a second, running 8:30.05. Defar, who was on record pace with 600m remaining, was running alone and ran into trouble while lapping heavy traffic and trying to make up time. With under 100m remaining, Defar was briefly trapped behind two lapped competitors. Despite running the second-fastest indoor 3000m in history, Defar was disappointed and upset after the race, certain she would have made the mark had her way been clear.
Nelson’s 21.66 sails to victory ahead of Cantwell
Olympic silver medallist Adam Nelson won the Shot Put with a throw of 21.66m, topping Christian Cantwell (20.94m) in the unusually-formatted competition which involved dropping the lowest-ranking competitor from the order in each round after the third. Nelson, currently competing unattached, threw in a shirt bearing the words "This Space for Rent," and with his win tonight undoubtedly raised the price of the lease.
Rotich beats Lagat to win national Mile record bonanza
Laban Rotich made his way past Athens silver medallist, Bernard Lagat, to win the men's Mile in 3:53.18, a Kenyan indoor record. Rotich, whose 3:32.11 makes him the third-fastest ever in the Mile indoors, improved on his own best time for the mile in his thirty-seventh year. Lagat took second with 3:53.61 PB, with another Kenyan Elkana Angwenyi third in 3:54.23, also a PB. Behind the Kenyan sweep there were national records for Mark Fountain of Australia in fourth (3:54.77), Canada's Nate Brannen in fifth (3:55.11)... Japan's Fumikazu Kobayashi in 9th(4:04.76).
Men's 60m and women's Long Jump season's lead
American Jason Smoots sped to a new world season's lead in the men's 60m, a 6.53 second clocking improving on Cuban Freddy Mayola's two 6.56 performances.
Heptathlon star Carolina Klüft opened her season by winning the Long Jump with a mark of 6.63m - a world season's lead. Klüft returns to Sweden on Sunday to prepare for the Jura Jumps meet in Gothenburg on Thursday (3 Feb).
David Krummenacker won the 1000m over his sometime training partner Berhanu Alemu, 2:20.91 to 2:21.19. Krummenacker, the 2003 World Indoor champion at 800m, said, "I'm going back to the kind of training I did in the 2002 season. I'm really concentrating on getting on the medal stand in Helsinki."
Women’s 800m World record holder Jolanda Ceplak won easily in 2:01.52. While pleased with the win, Ceplak admitted disappointment in the time. "I know that my conditioning is better than this," she explained.
Meet organizer Mark Wetmore paid a World Record bonus of $25,000 to Dibaba, but she professed to be motivated more by the time than the bonus. "I just wanted the mark," she said.
Parker Morse for the IAAF
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