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World Indoors: Lagat wins 3,000 metres, Dulecha takes 1,500

2004-03-06

Kenyan Bernard Lagat won his first IAAF World Championship title in Budapest. But it was not in his usual event, the 1500 metres. Instead Lagat took the 3,000 m title in style. In a tactical race the 29 year-old clocked 7:56,34 minutes to win in front of Rui Silva (Portugal/7.57,08) and Markos Geneti (7:57,87). The Ethiopian had been nominated on short notice as a reserve for Haile Gebrselassie. Ethiopians superstar had cancelled his start due to an injury.

“I am absolutely happy with this win because normally I don’t run the 3,000 metres”, Bernard Lagat said. Still he did run a 3,000 metre world final before. In 2001 he came in sixth at the World Indoors. It was Lagat who was originally tested positive for EPO last summer. But as the B sample did not confirm the first result he was not banned from competition. Lagat and Geneti controlled the slow race from the front right after the start. When finally Australian Craig Mottram put in some speed at the 2,000 m mark Lagat, Geneti, Silva and Antonio David Jimenez followed. The Spaniard finally came in fourth while Mottram could not cope with the pace and finished tenth. 180 metres to go and Geneti was beaten, while Silva tried to attack Lagat. But there was no real danger for the Kenyan.

„During the whole race I was careful not to let anybody go away. That was why I was at front right from the start”, Lagat said. Rui Silva was more than happy with his silver. “I am really satisfied with this result. It was a new experience for me because it was my first race at 3,000 m in a championship. It was a difficult race – and in the end Lagat was too strong for me. I could not get passed him”, Silva said.

It should have been her first gold medal at a World Championship. But for Kelly Holmes the 1,500 metre final in Budapest ended in a disaster. She finished ninth – at the very end of the field. Britain’s best ever middle distance runner jogged into the finish clocking 4:12,30 minutes. It was after 875 metres of the race when her golden dream ended with a shock. The 33 year-old fell to the floor. The disappointment must be enormous since it will probably be never again so easy to win a World Championship for her.

So Kutre Dulecha was all on her own when it mattered. She won her her first world title at a middle distance event with a time of 4:06,40 minutes. Four years ago the Ethiopian had already been World Cross Country Champion (short event). When she put the pressure on at 1,200 metres no other runner had a chance. Still it remains speculative what chances Kelly Holmes would have had against Dulecha. The Ethiopian clearly was not at her limit. On the other hand Kelly Holmes has the pace needed due to her 800 metre running. Holmes is a training partner of Olympic and World Champion Maria Mutola (Mozambique). Both are training in South Africa.

“It is no secret: I came her to win. The race was perfect for me. It was tactical and slow. I did not fear any runner, because I had trained well”, Dulecha said. Probably Kelly Holmes made the mistake right after the start, when she decided to run right at the end of the field. The pace was slow and probably she wanted to avoid being pushed. But the other end would have been the better position. Additionally she did not fell in a curve but on a straight, when she was trying to get nearer to the leaders. Holmes immediately continued racing and caught the end of the field at 1,100 metres. But the fight for a medal was hopeless, because finally the pace was picked up by Kutre Dulecha.

There was a surprise second place for 26 year-old Carmen Douma-Hussar (4:08,18 minutes). The Canadian celebrated her biggest success so far. “It is just unbelievable. This is my first World Championship and I ran a personal best as well. My coach did talk about the possibility of a medal – but to be honest I did not believe him!” Third place went to Russian Gulnara Samitova (4:08,26).


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