Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lagat outkicked by Bekele again in Thessaloniki...

THESSALONIKI, Greece--In a carbon copy of the 5000m finals in Berlin three weeks earlier, the 27-year-old Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele (left/photo by Paul Merca) took the 3000m at the IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final with a great effort in the last lap.

After a tactical and slow race the double Berlin world champion (5000 and 10,000 m) clocked 8:03.79 minutes and with that had once more denied Washington State graduate Bernard Lagat a prestigious victory against him.

Lagat crossed the line in 8:04.00, followed by Sammy Mutahi (Kenya/8:04.64) and Deresse Mekonnen (Ethiopia/8:05.32).

The first two kilometers were run in a very pedestrian fashion, with the first 1000 in 2:55.43, and kilometer number two in 5:40.21.

The final part of the race was almost a copy of the Berlin 5000m final. Bekele went to front and further increased his speed with 250 to go. Coming out of the final bend he was in control, but Lagat was coming through strongly. At the beginning of the home straight it looked as if the ex-Cougar could finally beat Bekele, but the Ethiopian saw the danger coming and was able to put in another gear. “Kenenisa won once again – you know he is the guy who always wins,” said Lagat.

Former University of Washington thrower Mart Israel, apparently still not over the leg injury suffered at the world championships, finished a disappointing eighth in the discus, spinning the platter 48.61 (159-5) in his one and only throw Saturday.

Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania upset reigning world champion Robert Harting of Germany to win the event with a toss of 221-10 (67.63m) to Harting's 217-9 (66.37).

Federal Way's Aretha Thurmond competes in the women's discus competition on Sunday to conclude the two-day meet, which is the last significant major international track meet of the year.

Complete results from day one of the World Athletics Final can be accessed here.

NOTE: The IAAF media relations team contributed to this report.

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