Bernard Lagat proved he was still master of the mile at Madison Square Garden with an emphatic victory over great distance runner Kenenisa Bekele at the 99th Millrose Games on Friday.
Lat year, the Kenyan-born American broke Eamonn Coghlan's 24-year-old Millrose record with a new mark of 3:52.87, this time he took charge after halfway and cruised to victory in 3:56.85 as a 14,851 crowd roared him on.
Stepping down to the shorter event as part of an experiment for the 2006 season, Ethiopia's Bekele finished second in 4:01.57 on his debut at the distance.
The world record holder over 5,000 and 10,000 metres outdoors and 5,000 metres indoors did just enough to hold of off Olympic 1,500 metres bronze medallist Rui Silva of Portugal (4:01.79).
The 31-year-old Lagat showed no ill effects of recent sleep deprivation in his first event since the birth of his first child three weeks ago.
"I missed a few days of training the last few weeks," Lagat told reporters after the race.
"It's not always easy when it's your first competition. I'm happy that I won."
Bekele said the Wanamaker Mile would be his first speed test in a season he planned to run shorter races as there were no world championships or Olympics this year.
"It was a great race," the 23-year-old said.
"I know the mile is very tough. This is my first race at a short distance, so it was difficult.
"Butit gives me confidence to improve for the future."
The women's 60-metressprint and hurdles were among other glamour events at the meeting.
In the flat sprint, Jamaica's Olympic 200 metres champion Veronica Campbell finished strongly to edge out fast-startingAmerican Me'Lisa Barber.
Cheered on by flag-waving Jamaican fans, Campbell was clocked in 7.095, three-thousandthsof a second faster than Barber.
Third place went to American world 100 metres champion and Olympic 100 silver medallist Lauryn Williams in 7:19.
The hurdles marked the return to competition of American Gail Devers, who took 2005off to give birth to her first child.
Olympic 100-metrehurdles champion Joanna Hayes spoiled the comeback party by scoring her first win over her compatriot and former training partner.
Cautious after a false start, Hayes won the race in 7.93seconds, the fastest time for an American woman this year.
Twice Olympic and triple world outdoor champion Devers was fourth in 8.13,behind compatriots Jenny Adams and Nichole Denby.
"Thisrace was just about feeling my way through," Devers said. "I'm 39, but I'm not over the hill yet."In the men's 60 metres, American Shawn Crawford made a welcome return after a five-month layoff with foot problems by charging to victory in 6.59 seconds, ahead of compatriots John Capel (6.63) and Terrence Trammell (6.67).