Kipsiele, Defar in sizzling form

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STOCKHOLM, Sweden, February 19 – Paul Kipsiele Koech set the seventh fastest time ever in the men’s 3,000 metres race while Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar set a new world indoor record at the 20th GE Galan meet on Wednesday night.

PAUL KIPSIELEPaced by first Daniel Norberg and then James Kosgei Kipsiele reached halfway in 3:48.2 – and then speeded up! With a second half in 3:44.6 he won in 7:32.80, a time that also made him the No 1 of 2009.

Koech’s steeplechase colleague Bob Tahri ended up doing a solo run for most of the race finishing seven seconds behind Koech and twelve seconds ahead of James Kwalia. Tahri’s 7:40.00 moves him to the position as the No 1 European this winter with a little over two weeks left before the European Indoor Championships.

Defar then smashed the 5000 metres record timing 14:24.37 meant an improvement by three seconds of compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba’s previous record for the 25-lap event.

With Judith Varga, Zakia Mrisho and Meskerem Assefa providing the the pacing for the first three kilometres Defar was consistently slightly (1-3 seconds) ahead of Dibaba’s splits had in her 14:27.42-race.

And spurred on by the increasingly vociferous 10,000 strong crowd in the Globe Arena Defar also matched Dibaba’s impressive 62.7/29.8 finish by her own 62.6/30.2 which meant that the advantage was kept all the way to the finish line.

Just after reaching the finish line after having lapped even the second placed runner – Russia’s Maria Konovalova who was 5th in the Olympic 10,000m last hear – twice Defar was met by warm hugs from her pacemakers.

"It was an incredible audience and a very good track. I would love to return next year – if I am invited." The invitation is probably already in the mail….

Quite a lot was in advance expected from the men’s 1000m and 800m races as far top times were concerned but the races turned out more of tactical affairs where the top contenders were more occupied with checking each other than following the pacemakers.

In the 1000m the lap times for the favourite Abubaker Kaki tells the story quite well: 25.9 – 27.0 – 28.0 – 29.2 – 27.6. Mehdi Baala – fresh from the impressive 1500m-race in Düsseldorf – tried to challenge with 200m to go but he never managed to get it as Kaki had the necessary speed to keep the Frenchman about a step behind at the finish line: 2:17.56 vs 2:18.20.

The fact that Yuriy Borzakovskiy was found in third place after the first 200m-lap of the 800m is the best way to illustrate the slow start. None of the main contenders – Borzakovskiy, Wilfred Bungei and Ismail Ismail – bothered to try to follow the pacemakers and the first three laps were run at 27.2 – 28.7 – 27.5 with Ismail leading the group.

But this was not a wise tactic with Borzakovskiy in the race and the 24.7 closing lap was sufficient to secure his 5th victory in his seven appearances in this meet since 2002. Ismail took second while Bungei never really figured in the race.

The Beijing Olympic champion tried to start a challenge at the bell but he was too far back then to be able to reach the front and he ended up 5th almost two seconds behind the winner.

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