Sunday, March 11, 2012

The master tactician strikes again: Bernard Lagat wins world indoor 3000m title...

ISTANBUL, Turkey--Washington State University alum Bernard Lagat (left/photo by Paul Merca) proved that even at the age of 37, he still has the moxie to compete against the world's best, as he won his third career world indoor championship, and second straight title at 3000 meters Sunday on the final day of the IAAF world indoor track & field championships at Atakoy Athletics Stadium.

From the start, the pace was honest, as Kenya's Augustine Choge and Edwin Soi took to the front, running no slower than 32 seconds for each of the first eight laps of the 200 meter track. Lagat was always within striking distance of the two Kenyans, before Mo Farah of Great Britain, who trains in Portland under coach Alberto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project took to the front.

With 400 meters to go, the two Kenyans took the lead back from Farah, and Lagat, positioned perfectly, responded to their attack.

With one lap to go, Lagat put on his trade mark finishing kick, completing the final circuit around 26 seconds to take the victory in a season best of 7:41.44, and become the oldest man to win a world indoor title at this distance, and also tie Ethiopia's Haile Gebreselassie as the only two men to win three world championships at this distance.

In what was a close finish behind Lagat, silver went to Choge in 7:41.77, bronze to Soi in 7:41.78 and fourth to Farah in 7:41.79.

However, Soi was disqualified for infringement on the last straightaway, moving Farah to third.

UPDATE:  Soi was reinstated to third after an appeal by the Kenyan federation.

In the mixed zone, a beaming Lagat told the media, "It feels so good. I played it safe, I just wanted to make sure I stayed safe, i.e. not get behind position seven or so, i.e. within reach of the two Kenyans. I was my position and I was not going back. When Mo Farah hit the front I told myself 'I am going with him'. With only four laps to go, it was easy for me. I knew it was now or never. I felt that I still had enough energy. This is a great boost-up for my confidence, for sure. I did it in Turkey and I know I can do it again in London."

"I might be 37 years old but my quick finish is not dying away. Now I cannot wait to go home and to see my family."

Here is more with Lagat from the mixed zone, courtesy of the IAAF:

Complete day three results from the IAAF world indoor track & field championships are available here.

NOTE: The IAAF contributed to this report.

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