Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bernard Lagat stands in the way of Kenenisa Bekele's quest for $1 million in Paris Friday...

PARIS, France--One of the premier matchups of Friday's Meeting Areva at the Stade de France in Paris is Washington State grad Bernard Lagat against Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele over 3000 meters.

Lagat, the reigning world champion at 1500 & 5000 meters enters this stop on the Golden League series of meets after winning the 1500 Sunday in Tangier, Morocco in a season best time of 3:32.56.

Meanwhile, Bekele, the reigning world and Olympic champion at 10000 meters, is steadily returning to form from an injury sustained last autumn. He showed in Rome last week with his 12:56.23 over 5000m that some of the old power is returning, and he’ll certainly need more than his reputation to hold off Lagat who ahead of his own approaching World title defense in Berlin would obviously love to knock down the "Ethiopian Lion".

Bekele has extra motivation to beat Lagat, as with his win in Rome last week, plus triumphs in the Golden League series meets in Berlin and Oslo, he is one of four athletes, along with sprinters Kerron Stewart of Jamaica (100m), Sanya Richards of the USA (400m), and pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia (pole vault) still in the hunt for the $1 million Golden League jackpots for going undefeated in the series, which continues in Zurich on August 28th, and concludes in Brussels on September 4th.

Lagat won over 3000m in Eugene at the Nike Prefontaine Classic in 7:35.92. While Bekele has yet to race that distance in 2009, his PB is 7:25.79 (2007), and Lagat’s PR is 7:33.51 (2000) though he’s been faster indoors. Incredibly these two men have never met over this distance before!

"Bernard is excited about the 3000 in Paris. He looked great in Tangiers on Sunday and is in pretty good shape going into this race. It has the makings of a fantastic race." according to James Templeton, Lagat's agent.

Lagat's excitement can't be contained, as he said on his Twitter page, "I really wish that the race was tonight".

Rainier Beach HS graduate Ginnie Powell will run in the 100 meter hurdles, facing Olympic champion Dawn Harper, and reigning world champion Michelle Perry.

The Meeting Areva will be streamed live on Friday beginning at 11 am pacific/2 pm eastern time.

OFF THE TRACK: Sources have confirmed a post that current WSU distance coach Jason Drake will be hired as an assistant coach at the University of Washington, replacing Jimmy Bean, who left after the NCAA Championships to work in sales for Alter-G.

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