Paul Tergat at the 1999 IAAF World Cross Country Championships (© Getty Images)
Two Kenyan runners, Paul Tergat and Noah Ngeny, are likely to bring the crowd to it’s feet at this year’s "DN Galan" IAAF Grand Prix meeting on July 30 in Stockholm’s beautiful 1912 Olympic stadium.
Paul Tergat, 30, who with his triumph this spring in Belfast, has won an unprecedented five straight World Cross Country titles, will attempt to break the world record in the 10,000 metres.
"The race in Stockholm will be my only 10,000m prior to the World Championships in Sevilla, so I have prepared for it all summer long" said Tergat, who trains in Brescia, northern Italy.
The present world record of 26.22.75 minutes which is held by Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie is only 5.10 seconds faster than Tergat’s personal best, a time which for eleven days in 1997 was itself the world record.
Tergat is certainly in both the right mental & physical condition to take repossession of the world record. "My time in the recent Rome 5,000 metres (12.55,37 mins) tells me I’m in great shape. The Stockholm Olympic stadium has seen more world records (83) than any other arena and I would love to add one more on July 30th".
His fellow countryman, Noah Ngeny, is determined to give Sebastian Coe’s world record in the 1,000 metres (1981) another try. The 20 year old’s 2.12,66 in Nice on Saturday was only 48 hundredths of a second from the record.
Ngeny, who gave Hicham El Guerrouj a run for his money in the Moroccan’s recent mile world record race (3.43.13) and who set a new personal best of 3.43,40 mins, will face a tough line up including Kennedy Kimwetich, the runner up in Nice, Laban Rotich, William Chirchir and Benjamin Kipkurui. The latter is only 18 years old and his 2.15,00 was a new world junior record.
In the 100 metres, Maurice Greene and Ato Boldon will face seven sprinters who have faster personal bests than 10 seconds, including Britain’s Dwain Chambers and Jason Gardener. Greene ran his season’s best of 9.90 in Stockholm last year and was awarded with a 1-carat diamond, valued at 10,000 US dollars for the stadium record. "I would like another one!" says Greene.
Michael Johnson is also looking to break a stadium record (Anthuan Maybank’s 44.67 from 1996) in the 400 metres, a race that includes Mark Richardson & Solomon Wariso.
"Michael is looking forward to running very fast and has returned home to prepare for Stockholm" says Johnson’s agent, the former world record holder in the 110 metres hurdles, Renaldo Nehemiah.
The present holder of the world record for the sprint hurdles, Colin Jackson is entered in a tough 110 metres hurdles where among his opponents will be Americans, Mark Crear (12.98) and Larry Wade (13.01).
In the men’s javelin, Britain’s three time European champion Steve Backley and compatriot Mick Hill who have been struggling to find their best form recently, should have no problem finding the necessary motivation in Stockholm! The field for this year’s DN Galan includes 1999 world leader Aki Parviainen of Finland (93.09m), South Africa’s 1997 World Champion Marius Corbett, Raymond Hecht, Peter Bland and Boris Henry of Germany.
Finally, the highlight of the women’s programme should be the two great head to head clashes in the sprints, both flat and hurdles. Sprint Queens, Marion Jones and Merlene Ottey, are entered in the 200 metres. While in the 100 metres hurdles, Gail Devers resurgent after her injury lay-off in 1998, will face fellow American Melissa Morrison.
Keijo Liimatainen and Chris Turner for the IAAF