Sept. 2, 2007
OSAKA, Japan - A slow early pace in the men's 5000 meter run set the table early for former Washington State University standout Bernard Lagat, as he exited Osaka's Nagai Stadium with his second gold medal at the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, winning the title in a time of 13:45.87,
The fifteen men in the finals started the race running the first kilometer in 3:00.35. As the race progressed, the pace picked up slightly, as the group ran an average of 2:47 for the next three kilometers, with Lagat always staying no more than a few steps behind the leader, ready to react to any move made.
Going into the last 800 meters, the pace sharply accelerated, with only six runners falling out of contention. Lagat, who talked at a Friday media session about the confidence he gained from running a 2:16.25 personal best for 1000 meters at the DN Galan meet in Stockholm, Sweden on August 7, used his miler's speed to run an unofficial last kilometer of 2:23, and an unofficial last lap of 52 seconds to pull away from Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge, the 2003 world champion in this event, to get the world title.
Former countryman Kipchoge hung on for the silver, in a time of 13:46.00. Moses Kipriso of Uganda nipped American Matt Tegenkamp for the bronze by 3/100ths of a second, running 13:46.75.
Lagat's double victory marked the first time an American had ever completed the 1500/5000 double at either the world championships or the Olympics, and the first American ever to medal in the 5,000.
Afterwards, Lagat said that, "I think that it was one of the best races I've ever ran in the 5000. I was ready for a fast race, and I was ready for a slow race. All I had to do was to run a smart race, and follow the pace. If people were willing to take it out the last 2 kilometers, I was ready for that also." "The double means a lot to me. I'm the first one to accomplish the double, and I feel I'm going to set an example for the young ones. There will be other kids in America who will do what Bernard Lagat did in 2007, no matter how long it will take."
For another story specifically about Lagat's great feat, please visit http://osaka2007.iaaf.org/news/kind=2/newsid=41504.html#with+historic+double+lagat+joins+illustrious+company and for more information on the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, please visit http://www.osaka2007.iaaf.org.
For more information on Washington state-affiliated athletes competing at the world championships in Osaka, please visit http://paulmerca.blogspot.com.