Tag Archive: Haile Gebrselassie


There have been mixed feelings on the road for the British girls as Gemma Steel and Charlotte Purdue battled it out for the top honours in the streets of Dublin to underline their promise whereas Paula Radcliffe suffered a serious blow to her hopes of eventually claiming that elusive Olympic medal in London as she faltered well off her target in Vienna.

On the track, Martyn Rooney opened his account to winning ways in style in Los Angeles and Abi Oyepitan evoked robust glimpses of the form that paved the way to the 200m final in Athens, with young Sophie Papps illustrating a glittering future in the women’s sprints at the Lee Valley.

OMV Half Marathon, Vienna

The much hyped “Emperor vs the Queen” virtual handicap race against great Haile Gebrselassie never really waltzed round the streets of the city of Johan Strauss as Radcliffe faded away over the back end of the half marathon course despite an encouraging start.

On a specially arranged format, the Briton was afforded a headstart of 7:52 on the differential between the lifetime bests of the two legends of distance running and showed purpose in the early stages to move past the opening 5k on schedule in 16:13.

But it turned all uphill from there on as the effects of a recent bout of bronchitis and pleurisy caught up with her and her strength started to waver in a test of mentality rather than an intended gauge of form and sharpener that reared up.

In due consideration, that was a race the world marathon record holder should have never run but she may have fallen for that false feeling of full recovery so many times when strength hasn’t actually settled back in yet, meddled with the anxiety of slipping behind her Olympic agenda.

By stark contrast, the ’emperor’ showed rejuvenated again, as if holding a charm of making, so much so that he soon released his rabbits of their duties to follow his own preferred tempo and breezed past Radcliffe slightly after the 15km mark, extending a shout of encouragement to his credit, on the way to wrapping up both contests in a time of 60.52.

Topping the women in a final time of 72:03, the slowest she has ever returned over the distance, will hardly offer any consolation for the Brit who, as Steve Cram wisely points out, will have to pick her way and races up to London very carefully henceforth, without any margin for mistakes.

SPAR Great Ireland Run, Dublin

The spell of the Olympics in London looks to work wonders on almost every department of home athletics and the spectacle of season revelation Gemma Steel and returning-to-action Charlotte Purdue pulling away from the field into a commanding British one-two in the women’s 10km race stirred life into hope of a revival over a distance that has been deep in the shades in recent years on the track.

Steel worked up a decisive four second gap on her domestic rival over the final kilometre of the course to collect the spoils in a huge best of  32:06, moving ninth in the UK all-time lists, and built on a sound run on all surfaces since autumn but Purdue won’t feel hard done by either with runner-up in a big new lifetime mark of 32:10 to slot into eleventh fastest ever herself.

Even more so when the young AFD runner came into the race still feeling a swift 15:29 long leg at the National Women’s 6-stager at Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, the previous day in her legs to show that form is falling in nicely down the way. Both times, without a doubt, indicate that the two Brits could pull the A standard of 31:45.00 on the track in the following several weeks and a place on the British team to London, an exciting prospect.

On the other hand, Helen Clitheroe endured a bad day at the office on her comeback from a training spell in Portugal as she looked rather uncomfortable midway through and trailed a long way behind the main action in fourth in 33:02 (SB), with Frenchwoman Christelle Daunay splitting the Brits in third in 32:27.

The men’s race could not bear the term contest by any means as great Kenenisa Bekele stormed to the front with the gun to force a searing pace, confident and flowing round the route, that saw him walk away with victory in a swift 27:49, a huge course record, as none survived on his tail even by the halfway mark.

A gap of almost a minute up on his nearest rival, as well as a few fleeting smiles looking round on the way, told the tale of a man back in serious business and feeling pleased with his form and fitness even though there was hardly a field to really test him over the distance. But time and races will tell whether he is back to his best once he swings onto the track next month with his showdown against Mo Farah over 5000m in Eugene looming large on the horizon.

Spaniard Ayam Lamdassam hung on to runner-up in 28:48 a mere second ahead of Italian Daniele Meucci, fourth and third behind Farah over 10000m in Barcelona, as they trailed a long way behind while Nick McCormick enjoyed another encouraging run to end up fifth in 29:04 and will take plenty of heart from a scalp like former European 5000m champion Jesus Espana.

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Following the latest exploits of Kenyan runners on the road, it has become apparent that we are heading towards an explosion of times towards the 2h01-2h02 region and it looks as though just a matter of time before Patrick Makau‘s recent world record of 2h03:38 in Berlin makes way.

More runners are storming into the 2h03s, already two ‘legally’ with Wilson Kipsang and Geoffrey Mutai very much confirmed in New York to be potentially lying in that territory too, this year while the ease and numbers that people are ranging in the 2h05-2h06s with is frightening these days. Suffice to say that 25 individuals have covered the distance under 2h07 this season and double world champion Abel Kirui or great Gebre Gebrselassie are not among them – let alone that the Ethiopians have massively underperformed with not a single presence in that frame this season!

Of course, the raging hunt for the possession of the world record could be put on hold by some of the top contenders as the London Olympics are drawing near fast. But with only three places available on the Kenyan team some are inevitably going to miss out and could afford to turn their efforts towards this end. Gebrselassie should be excepted, though, since he needs to ensure of a qualifying next time out and London has got to be his swansong provided he makes it there.

So who is the man that is going to claim right to the world record next in your view?

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

The Emperor of distance running enforces his rule in supreme fashion. Great Haile Gebrselassie ensnares Paul Tergat (KEN) into a similar game plan as in Gothenburg two years earlier although he goes some 600m out this time round to turn a seemingly winding up tight contest into a runaway victory with aplomb, his third title in a row.

The Char is back with a vengeance although not as assured as he used to be. Nevertheless, Sergey Bubka, in the colours of Ukraine now, rises above a championships record of 6.01m to turn the final on its head for an unprecedented seventh global title, literally owning the pole vault one having won all since the inaugural version in Helsinki 1983. That was meant to be his last though….

Maurice Greene brings Donovan Bailey‘s sprinting reign to an end and establishes his own in place.

Iwan Thomas may live to ever regret spurning this big chance of his to mount the top of the world, in the form of his career. He storms round the first 300m at a searing pace to come off the top bend at the top of the race but hasn’t got the legs to sustain his challenge down the home straight and Michael Johnson, not at his very best through injuries, has got enough to edge past and extend his reign over the 400m for two more years.

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British medalists

Golds (1): Great Britain men’s 4x400m (Iwan Thomas, Roger Black, Jamie Baulch, Mark Richardson)

Silvers (4): Jonathan Edwards (triple jump), Steve Backley (javelin), Colin Jackson (110mh), Denise Lewis (heptathlon)

Bronzes (1): Great Britain men’s 4x100m (Darren Braithwaite, Darren Campbell, Doug Walker, Julian Golding)

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World Championships Results – Top 8

MEN

http://www.the-sports.org/athletics-world-championships-1997-results-men-s5-c0-b0-g61-t556-u19-v1.html

WOMEN

http://www.the-sports.org/athletics-world-championships-1997-results-women-s5-c0-b0-g61-t556-u19-v0.html

MEDALS

http://www.the-sports.org/athletics-world-championships-1997-results-medals-s5-c0-b0-g61-t556-u19-v3.html

(Following the disqualification of the US men’s 4x400m team as Antonio Pettigrew was found to have made use of illegal substances years later, Great Britain have been awarded gold soar up into an eventual 10th on the medal table)