July 15, 2007

Bekele Back To His Best

Sheffield - Kenenisa Bekele erased any doubts about his form ahead of next month's World Championships in Japan with a record-breaking 3 000m win at the rain-lashed British Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Ethiopian, the Olympic and world 10 000m champion, burst clear with three laps to go as rain fell at the Don Valley Stadium and went nearly a lap in front of a field also featuring Australia's Craig Mottram.

Bekele's time of 7 minutes 26.69 seconds was a personal best and a new British allcomers' record, beating the 7:29.69 run of Haile Gebrselassie, his compatriot, at London's Crystal Palace eight years ago.

Mottram, who beat Bekele in September's World Cup final was way back in second, some nine seconds behind.

'It was a fantastic race'

"It was a fantastic race," said Bekele. "I'm happy to have ran so quickly especially in tough weather conditions.

"I have been training hard and this performance showed that I am at my best level."

The 400m race involving Olympic and world champion Jeremy Warriner and double-amputee Oscar Pistorius was marred by the weather.

Warriner stumbled out of the blocks and then stopped, as if expecting the starter to fire the recall gun.

But no recall came and Warriner let the field continue without him.

The wet conditions made life especially tough for Pistorius, who runs on carbon fibre blades attached to the legs below the knee.

He was last of those who finished and was subsequently disqualified for running outside his lane. American Angelo Taylor won in 45.25 seconds.

Pistorius, second in a 400m 'B' race at in Rome on Friday, had both legs amputated below the knee when less than a year old.

The 20-year-old has said his aim is to run at the World Championships in Osaka. To first do that he would need to run the qualifying time of 45.95.

Even if Pistorius does that the IAAF, athletics' world governing body, could prevent him from taking part.

They have previously ruled that the blades are an unfair advantage but have said they will wait before making a final ruling.

Tyson Gay's hopes of setting a 100m world record were frustrated by the weather, his winning time of 10.13 well outside Asafa Powell's mark of 9.77.

China's 110m hurdles world record holder Liu Xiang won his event in 13.23 beating out rivals Anwar Moore of the USA and Cuba's Dayron Robles.

"Despite the difficult conditions and a tough track, I had a good race," said Liu.

"I am confident about my chances at the world championships."

Australia's Jana Rawlinson continued her successful comeback after giving birth by winning the 400m hurdles.

The former Jana Pittman, married to retired British hurdler Chris Rawlinson, won in a time of 54.60 as she geared up for Osaka.

Britain's Natasha Danvers-Smith, runner up to Rawlinson at last year's Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, was second in 55.31 with Sandra Glover of the United States third in 55.54.

It was 2003 world champion Rawlinson's second win in three days after her success at Rome's Golden League meeting on Friday, having given birth seven months ago.

There was something of an upset result in the men's 1500m where Britain's Andy Baddely won in a personal best time of 3:34.74.

The 25-year-old, third in June's "Dream Mile" in Oslo, waited until the home straight before going clear of 2004 Olympic bronze and silver medallists Rui Silva and Bernard Lagat.

In a 200 metres run while rain was falling on the Don Valley track, American Wallace Spearmon won in 20.08 - a remarkable time given the conditions.

Spearmon, the 2005 world silver medallist, just edged out Jamaica's Usain Bolt by one hundredth of a second with another US athlete, Rodney Martin, third in 20.39.


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