Great Haile Gebrselassie shrugged off the disappointment of Berlin last month to storm to a commanding victory on the windy and hilly course of the ‘Brum’ and restore his hopes of claiming a place on the Olympic squad of Ethiopia for London.

Racing after a long time in a city he holds special ties with, the Ethiopian picked up around the seventh mile to quickly fashion plenty of daylight on his rivals and never looked back, pushing on into the wind through the second half of the race.

A stiff late uphill really tested his strength and took a dent into his time towards the end but coming on top he was able to indulge in his return to the winning trail and beam across the line in 61:29, turning immediately his sights on the outlet of his renewed bid for an Olympic qualifier in Tokyo come February.

Haile still reckons that only a clocking in the region of 2h05 can earn him substantial hopes of selection but a look at the current form of most of his top countrymen suggests that even a 2h07 might turn sufficient enough. But then again, only time and events will tell.

Essa Rashed (QAT) followed on a clear runner-up roughly a minute behind in 62:28 while Daegu marathon 4th marker Abderrahime Bouramdane (MAR) was well-beaten into a distant third in 63:57, failing to make his credentials count.

Bud Baldaro-coached Jon Pepper, a useful steeplechaser in his U20 days in 2007, and U23 Welshman Dewi Griffiths (debut) turned on solid runs to post PBs of 65:32 and 65:40 for sixth and seventh respectively, taking the scalp of Commonwealth marathon champion John Kelai (KEN, 66:00).

In women, in-impressive-form Gemma Steel carried on from where she left off at the ERRA Relays at Sutton Park last weekend to nonchalantly dominate in a big new PB of 72:21, previous best at 73:32 in Bristol last month, into the wind and could well start pondering on her own chances of bidding for an Olympic place in the 10000m at the rate of her progress.

Still on heavy mileage ahead of Yokohama marathon, Louise Damen did not have the legs to cope with Steel’s sound pace and had to be content with a decent 73:51 timing in second place. She holds an A qualifier of 2h30:00 from London in April but that probaby won’t be sufficient and will need to slice at least two or three minutes off to stand a good chance.

Also Yokohama-bound Mara Yamauchi was a late scratch due to a minor knee injury and she may set her attention on the Great South Run 10-miler as a late sharpener.

Results

http://www.greatrun.org/Results/Default.aspx

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