The Brit ran a world leader while teammate Galen Rupp took third in a personal best.
(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
EUGENE, ORE. — With each passing day, Oregon feels more like home to reigning world 5000m champion Mo Farah. The 29 year-old Briton, who lives about 120 miles north of here in Portland where he trains under coach Alberto Salazar, expertly controlled today’s 5000m at the Prefontaine Classic, waxing the field and recording a world-leading 12:56.98, which was also a meet record.
“I think I’m in the right place at the right time now,” Farah told reporters after running the final lap in 56.2 seconds to beat Kenya’s Isaiah Koech into second place (12:57.63). Farah’s training partner, Galen Rupp, finished third in a personal best 12:58.90, showing that he may well make the USA Olympic team in both the 5,000m and 10,000m when the Olympic Trials are held here later this month.
Conditions were cool and windy at Hayward Field, but Jordan McNamara got the race off on the right foot. The former University of Oregon miler clocked 63 and 62-second laps until dropping out with eight laps to go. At that point Kenya’s Kenneth Kiprop Kipkemoi took over the pace, and things slowed down slightly. Farah, dressed in a special gold and black uniform, was tucked back in the pack, letting the race play out in front of him.
“Kind of the pace was up and down; it started at a reasonably good pace then slowed down the middle,” Farah told reporters. ”Then towards the end, we picked it up again.”
With five laps to go, Kipkemoi left the track, and the pace sagged to 63.8 seconds, and 64.2 for the next two laps. Farah then moved to the front with Rupp and Koech, and the pace visibly quickened. Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele was behind them, and would have to settle for fourth (13:01.48). Farah said that he and Rupp were working together- to a point.
“In the race we were trying to help each other,” Farah explained. “But in the end, it’s every man for himself.”
Farah squeezed the pace down to 60.2 seconds for the penultimate lap, then picked it up smartly for the final circuit. Leading out of the final turn, he was simply too fast for Koech or Rupp, running the final 400 meters in 56.2 seconds to put the race away.
Although Bekele never threatened Farah for the win today, Farah reminded the media that Bekele should never be dismissed and would be a factor in the upcoming Olympic Games.
“He’s a great athlete; we should never doubt him,” Farah intoned. ”When you come to the start line, respect everybody.”
As for Rupp, when asked by a reporter, he agreed that his performance today could be seen as part of a resurgence in American distance running.
“We’ve got to be able to compete,” said Rupp, who competed here for the University of Oregon. ”We’ve got to start winning and placing high.”
WORLD LEADERS FOR KIPROP, SELSOULI, CHEMOS
In the other distance events here, reigning Olympic 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop easily defeated a superb field in the Bowerman Mile, running a world-leading 3:49.40. Kiprop, 22, stayed near the front of the big 19-man field which went through 440 yards in 54.8 seconds, and halfway in 1:54.8. While that may have bee a fast pace for most events, Kiprop said it wasn’t quick enough for him.
“It wasn’t what I wanted to do today,” the lanky Kiprop told Race Results Weekly. ”I just wanted a faster race.”
Timing his final move perfectly, Kiprop came around his Kenyan compatriot Caleb Ndiku at the top of the backstretch, than ran away from the field to get the win. Behind him, Ndiku faded in the final 50 meters, slipping back to fifth place (3:50.79). Ethiopia’s Mekonnen Gebremedhin, this year’s world indoor championships bronze medalist, won the battle for second (3:50.17) and Djibuti’s Ayanleh Souleiman got third (3:50.21).
“I’m happy I won and I like to win,” Kiprop said, still lamenting the time. ”Sometimes it happens that way.”
David Torrence was the top American in the field, finishing ninth in a personal best 3:52.01. Bernard Lagat, who had won the Bowerman Mile twice before, finished 14th out of 16 finishers in 3:54.28. All 16 finishers broke 3:57.
In the women’s 3000m, Morocco’s Meriem Alaoui Selsouli was the only leader besides three pacemakers. She went on to win over the Oregon Track Club’s Sally Kipyego in 8:34.47, a meet record and world leader. Selsouli, who said she focused on training during her two-year ban for doping which ended last August, was clearly pleased with her world-leading time.
“I’m so, so happy for the results,” the petite athlete from Rabat told reporters in fluent English. ”Thank you to all the American people; throughout the race they were all encouraging me. So, thank you so much.”
Kipyego, who leaves here tomorrow morning for Kenya where she will contest the Kenyan Olympic Trials at 10,000m in two weeks, was also very pleased with her personal best time of 8:35.89.
“That was painful!” Kipyego exclaimed with a smile. ”I couldn’t stay with her. She was just bam, bam, bam. I would rate my effort very good. I’m not sharp, by any means and that pace –68′s– was just a little bit faster than where I am right now.”
Another world leader and meet record was achieved by Milcah Chemos in the women’s 3000m steeplechase. Using her two-footed style of hurdling –where she keeps her feet together and brings her legs over the barriers together on her left side, including the water jump– Chemos comfortably beat Ethiopians Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew, clocking 9:13.69. She celebrated by doing a little dance for the crowd. Behind the top-3, Britain’s Barbara Parker set a national record of 9:24.24, making her eventual selection to the British Olympic Team a near certainty.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Parker who has been working with sports psychologist Stan Beecham to improve her focus during races. ”Training’s been going fantastic. It went great last year, but mentally could never get it together.”
Also celebrating her performance in the steeplechase was the University of Colorado’s Emma Coburn who is redshirting her outdoor track season this year. She cleaved 11 seconds off of her career best, clocking 9:25.28, making her the fourth-fastest American of all time.
“I was in shape to run 9:25 and I’m really pleased with that,” said Coburn, who wore bright orange Nike spikes. ”I felt really relaxed the whole time, too, so I’m confident that I’ll be able to repeat that performance again in a couple of weeks (at the Olympic Trials).”
In the men’s 800 meters, Olympic silver medalist Abubaker Kaki of Sudan won a squeaker over Mohamed Aman of Ethiopia, 1:43.71 to 1:43.74. American Nick Symmonds, who trains at Hayward Field with the Oregon Track Club Elite, finished third in a 1:44.32.
“I wanted to come in with the mentality that this was the Olympic Trials final,” Symmonds told reporters from behind a pair of over-sized sunglasses. ”You know on paper it’s a bit deeper race, but if I approach this like the Olympic Trials, I’ll position myself to be top-three (and) bring it home the last hundred.”