Monday, August 27, 2007

Bernard Lagat advances to the finals of 1500...

Bernard Lagat pulled away from the field to win heat 1 of the 1500m semis at the World Championships in Osaka Monday night. /photo by Paul Merca

OSAKA, Japan—Former Washington State University great Bernard Lagat stayed out of trouble for most of the race, and used a fast finish to win tonight’s semi-final race in the men’s 1500 meter run in a time of 3:42.39 at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, and advance to Wednesday night’s finals.

The two-time Olympic medalist and current American record holder at this distance said, “The race went OK. It went actually the way I wanted it. I didn't want to get into trouble today, running from the back all the way. At some point I got boxed in. I had to get myself out of it. I managed to get out and run the last 200 meters really hard. (The pace) didn't really matter to me. I knew it was terribly slow. I wanted to run the way it is.”

Lagat also told members of the media that he felt that he ran a significantly smarter race than he did in last Saturday’s opening round by staying out of heavy traffic. As Lagat swung to the outside to free himself from the pack in the final straightaway, several athletes were involved in a collision which ultimately resulted in the disqualification of France’s Mehdi Baala, one of the pre-meet favorites.

Lagat’s teammate, Alan Webb, who currently has the fastest time in the world this year at 1500 meters, secured a spot in the finals with his fifth place finish in the other semifinal race, running 3:41.08.

Tuesday night, Ginnie Powell competes in the semi-finals of the women’s 100 meter hurdles. The two-time US champion from Rainier Beach High School finished second in her opening heat Monday morning to advance to the semis.

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