Sunday, 09 August 2009

Men's 5000m - PREVIEW

Kenenisa Bekele sprints away to take 5000m gold  (Getty Images)

Kenenisa Bekele sprints away to take 5000m gold (Getty Images)

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    • Bernard Lagat and Eliud Kipchoge sprint to the finish of the men's 5000m
    • Ali Abdosh powers to a 12:59.56 victory in the Hengelo 5000m
    The biggest question surrounding the men’s 5000m is whether Ethiopian World record holder and reigning Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele will choose to double over the 5000 and 10,000m distances.

    The 27-year-old won both events in Beijing and although Bekele has collected a substantial number of victories, the World 5000m title has remained elusive. Bekele has won three Olympic golds and a total of 14 World titles in cross country and track (a trio at 10,000m) and has a bronze medal in the event from Paris 2003. The Ethiopian has a 14-race win streak in the event dating back to July 2006 when he lost to Bernard Lagat in London.

    Although reigning double World champion Lagat didn’t succeed in Beijing, he might well be a player again in Berlin. Lagat has had a promising season and because he is the reigning champion he didn’t have to focus too much on going through the US championships qualifying system. Lagat only raced in the 800m heats in Eugene and did not start his semi-final. The American has raced in five 1500m/Mile races winning them all, but has also displayed good form in the 3000/5000m, recording one win and two second place finishes at those distances.

    Naturally there are a number of talented runners who are vying to the place at the top. The Kenyan 5000m team is lead by Eliud Kipchoge who surely would like to upgrade his silver medal positions from the 2008 Olympics and 2007 World championships. Kipchoge won the World 5000m title but that was back in 2003 in Paris when he was a precocious 19-year-old.

    Other Kenyans in the race will be Vincent Chepkok and Joseph Ebuya. Chepkok is running in his first major championships but did win the Kenyan World trials and has a 13:01.35 personal best from this summer. Ebuya did race in Osaka 2007 but did not make it through the first round there.

    The other three Ethiopians have all clocked a sub-13 minute 5000m this season. 21-year-old Bekana Daba also did not advance from the first round in Osaka. Ali Abdosh is another quite unexperienced runner at this level. The 21-year-old has run 12:59.56 this season but will be entering his first major championships. The fourth Ethiopian is Imane Merga, also at a World championships for the first time. The 20-year-old has clocked 12:59.75.

    2007 Osaka bronze medallist Moses Kipsiro (UGA) has yet to run a 5000m race this season but will still be a good choice for a medal here. The 22-year-old Kipsiro took second place at the World Cross Country Championships in Amman and recently started his outdoor season clocking a solid 7:30.95 national record in Monaco at the end of July.

    Other names to follow include US Champion Matt Tegenkamp, who was fourth in Osaka 2007 and Briton Mo Farah who has had some impressive races lately including a 13:09.14 win in London. Farah was sixth in Osaka.

    Mirko Jalava for the IAAF