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Lagat completes unique double

September 02, 2007 19:53 IST

American Bernard Lagat became the first man to win the 1,500 and 5,000 metres titles at the same world championships with a stunning victory in the longer distance on Sunday.

The Kenyan-born 32-year-old stormed through the last 200 metres to cross the line in 13.45.87 and claim 5,000m gold after breaking a 99-year drought for his new country in the 1,500m earlier in the week.

"I think that was the best race in the 5,000 metres I have ever run," Lagat told reporters. "All I had to do was run a smart race and follow the pace."

Lagat joined Hicham El Guerrouj, who achieved the feat at the 2004 Olympics, and Paavo Nurmi (1924 Olympics) in winning both titles at a single global championship.

"This double means a lot a to me," said Lagat. "The story I was following was the one by Hicham El Guerrouj in Athens. I wanted to do the same because he inspired me. He is a wonderful man and friend."

Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge, world champion four years ago in Paris as a teenager, looked like he might get close to Lagat at the death but had to settle for silver in 13.46.00.

"I wish the finish had been 10 metres further, I would have won the race," he said. "Next time I will keep watch. This one is gone."

Moses Kipsiro of Uganda held off a charge from Lagat's compatriot Matthew Tegenkamp to claim bronze in 13.46.75.

"I thank God very much for clinching a medal at my first world championships," said the 20-year-old, who does not have a coach.

Lagat missed the world championships in 2003 through a suspension for a doping charge that he was later cleared of and again in 2005 due to his protracted wait to represent the US.

He has made up for it this week, though, running almost identical races to win the two golds, biding his time over the early laps and making a move at the end of the final run down the back straight.

"I was surprised that the pace was so slow, that was good for me," said Lagat. "Everybody waited until the last lap. I was waiting for the last 100 metres."

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