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Kipchoge denies Guerrouj a double

Patrick Vignal | August 31, 2003 23:47 IST
Last Updated: August 31, 2003 23:53 IST


Kenyan teenager Eliud Kipchoge denied Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele an entry in the record books by winning a thrilling men's 5,000 metres final at the World Championships.

Eliud Kipchoge With all eyes on Moroccan El Guerrouj and Ethiopian Bekele, both chasing historic doubles, Kipchoge sprinted for a narrow win in the highlight of the closing day of the Paris festival.

The world junior cross country champion, only 18, looked comfortable throughout the race and proved the fresher in a dramatic finish to clock a winning championship record time of 12 minutes 52.79 seconds.

El Guerrouj, who was after an unprecedented double after winning the 1,500 metres title here, mounted a brave challenge but had to settle for silver in 12:52.83.

The elegant Moroccan, who reigns supreme over the 1,500 but rarely competes in the 5,000, made his move with two laps to go and was still narrowly ahead at the bell but could not resist Kipchoge's sensational burst of speed in the final straight.

The 28-year-old El Guerrouj, one of the finest middle distance runners of all time, dipped over the line like a sprinter in a desperate attempt to claim victory.

However, he just failed to emulate Finn Paavo Nurmi, the only man to secure the 1,500 and 5,000 at the same global event when he achieved the double at the 1924 Olympics in Paris.

GREAT FUTURE

Bekele, also chasing a unique double after claiming 10,000 gold, led for most of the race but ran out of steam in the final metres and had to be content with the bronze in 12:53.12.

The Ethiopian, who heralded a new era in distance running by upsetting his great compatriot Haile Gebrselassie in the 10,000, leaves Paris with a great future ahead of him at just 21.

For the first 3,000 metres, Bekele raced in front, with El Guerrouj and Kipchoge following the pace relatively easily.

Bekele and Kipchoge then traded the lead before El Guerrouj jumped ahead with 800 metres left.

All three men remained in contention until the last few metres but Kipchoge, the latest to emerge from a seemingly endless line of remarkable Kenyan distance runners, had more energy left than his prestigious rivals.

Kenya had to wait for the final day of the championships to win gold but Bekele and Catherine Ndereba, winner of the women's marathon, made it a memorable ending for the African country.

Photograph: Getty Images


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