Kenenisa Bekele Breaks World Record in Brussels

By Jörg Wenig

Kenenisa Bekele has crowned a superb TDK Golden League spectacle in Brussels. The Ethiopian broke his own 10,000-meter world record at the 20th Ivo van Damme Memorial in front of a capacity crowd of 48,000 spectators in the Stade Roi Baudouin. A year ago Kenenisa Bekele had clocked 26:20.31 minutes in Ostrava. This time in Brussels the 23-year-old ran 26:17.53.

Kenenisa’s brother Tariku played quite a part in the world record race. The 18 year old paced the race until half way. After 13:09.19 minutes they reached the 5,000m mark. And shortly after that Kenenisa Bekele was on his own. Standing ovations accompanied the Ethiopian during his world record hunt. In the end, he had to run a 60 seconds lap to break the world record. Kenenisa Bekele ran 57.09 seconds—the record was broken and the 1,60m tall runner was celebrated by the ecstatic crowd.

“Everything was perfect here today—the weather, the pacemakers, the crowd,” said Kenenisa Bekele, who ended his season after his world record. Also the times of the following runners were very good. Boniface Kiprop (Uganda) was runner up in 26:39.77 minutes. That is the 12th best time of all times. Third place was taken by the Kenyan Samuel Wanjiru who established a new junior world record with 26:41.75 minutes. The old mark was 27:04.00 minutes (Kiprop).

Saif Saaeed Shaheen showed a sweeping world record hunt in the 3,000m steeplechase—even though he did not quite reach a new mark. The Qatari and former Kenyan athlete was on his own shortly after the first half. In 5:16 minutes he passed the 2,000m mark and was on schedule to break his own world record of 7:53.63 minutes. But in the end he ran 7:55.51 minutes. After all it was the third best time ever. The runner up was Simon Vroemen (Netherland). He set a new European record of 8:04.95 minutes. Third was Brahim Boulami (Morocco) in 8:07.48.

The high-class long distance events have a tradition in Brussels. So there was also a 5,000m men’s race. Here it was Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya) who won scarcely in 12:50.22 minutes, just ahead of Abderrahim Goumri from Morocco (12:50.25) and world champion Benjamin Limo (Kenya/12:55.26).

The assumed world championships’ favorite at 1,500m, Daniel Komen, had failed sensationally in the prelims in Helsinki. Now the Kenyan showed his qualities. With a long sprint he won in 3:31.13 minutes and beat the World Champion Rashid Ramzi (Bahrain/3:32.81). Ivan Heshko (Ucraine/3:32.95) was third. “I knew that I was able to beat the World Champion. I should have done it at the World Championships. Maybe it would have been better to finish second here and first in Helsinki,” said Daniel Komen.

The women’s 800m was won the Spaniard Mayte Martinez with a strong finish in 2:00.66 ahead of Tatyana Andrianova (Russia/2:01.09) and Hazel Clark (USA/2:01.15). In contrast to Helsinki, where he was second, the Russian 800m Olympic Champion Yuri Borzakovskiy timed his final sprint exact. In 1:44.54 he won scarcely ahead of Youssef Saad Kamel (Bahrain/1:44.58). Third was the Canadian Gary Reed in 1:44.93.

The meeting had already started with a running highlight: The women’s 5,000m race was on world record pace. The pacemaker Olga Komyagina (Russia) was leading the field to the 2,000m mark in 5:45.13 minutes. The pace would have been good to better the world record of the Turkish Elvan Abeylegesse (14:42.68). But when the leading group had to run without the pacemaker nobody wanted to take the initiative.

Therefore, it was no world record at the end, but a new African record: the Olympic Champion Meseret Defar (Ethiopia) ran a speedy last of just over 60 seconds to beat fellow Ethiopian Berhane Adere. Defar ran 14:28.98 minutes, Adere finished in 14:31.09. The third place was also taken by an Ethiopian: Ejegayehu Dibaba ran 14:37.34. “During the race I never looked at the time, I was just fighting. Therefore I am very happy to have run the African record,” said Meseret Defar.