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Lagat upstages Mutahi

DOHA, March 14 – Sammy Mutahi claimed bronze in Sunday’s IAAF World Indoor 3000m final that was won by Bernard Lagat.

Mutahi crossed the line in a time of 7:39.90 behind Spain’s Sergio Sanchez who took silver in 7:39.55.

Mutahi said his goal was the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October after placing on the podium on his first outing for Kenya.

"The pace was not very fast until the acceleration in the last 1000m," said Mutahi.

"It was my debut for Kenya so maybe I lacked the experience, but I’ll do better next time," he added.

Kenyan-born lagat rolled back the years to win the event six years after his last gold when he was running for the country of his birth.

The 35-year-old Lagat, a double gold medallist at the 2007 outdoor world championships and a three-time Olympian – for Kenya in 2000 and 2004 and the United States in 2008 – produced a final-lap kick to time 7min 37.97sec.

Defending champion Tariku Bekele slipped to fourth having been in the fight for most of the race.

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"My kids woke up at 7am in the morning to watch their daddy, so I needed to show them something," said Lagat.

"I was the first Kenyan to win in this event and now the first American. I wanted to make history."

Of the race, he said: "I did exactly what my coach told me to do. During the last lap I felt a lot of energy from the crowd.

"I missed a lot since 2007 but now I’m back.

"My long-term goal is Olympic gold in London, most probably at 5000m."

Sanchez said his silver-medal showing was the "greatest thing" he had had in his life, and even admitted that he was somewhat abashed to finish behind Lagat.

"It was great to finish behind my idol," said the Spaniard.

"I knew from the first lap time that it would just be pace setting and the race would really start with 10 laps to go.

"I moved to the front with a lot of strength and I had just enough to finish well out there."

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Kenyan Augustine Choge went straight into the lead with Spain’s Jesus Espana and Bekele, younger brother of middle-distance running legend Kenenisa, hard on his heels.

Choge was setting a good pace that strung out the field, Espana soon falling off the leaders.

With eight laps to go, Bekele, compatriot Dejen Gebremeskel and Lagat took over at the head of the pack.

Bekele upped the pace and with 600m to go, Bekele and Lagat struck out together, Sanchez in third with a further gap to Mutahi.

Lagat, who bagged the US 3000m title last month and a record-breaking eighth victory in the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games, surged past Bekele on the bell signalling the last lap and the Kenyan-born athlete’s fluid style and kick saw him outpace everyone for gold.

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