- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ethiopian Meseret Defar thought she had her work cut out for her at Sunday’s Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore. Her goal: to better her world 5,000-meter record of 14:16.63 established in late June in Oslo.

Unfortunately for the defending Olympic champion, countrywoman Tirunesh Dibaba on Friday made Defar’s attempt another five seconds more difficult, again at the Bislett Games in Olso.

In a phenomenal performance in temperatures near 80 degrees, Dibaba ran a world record 14:11.15, solo for the last two kilometers.

In other words, she averaged 4:15 for each 1,500 meters or less than 4:34 a mile for three consecutive miles. Her last 1,500 was in the 4:06-4:07 range, which is competitive for just racing 1500 meters, closing in a sub-64-second 400. Her kilometer splits were 2:48, 2:55, 2:55, 2:49 and 2:42.7.

Dibaba’s career best outdoor 5,000 was 14:30.40 before Friday, although she did run 14:27.42 last year for the indoor world record. Her improvement shocked her.

“I’m surprised that I broke it by that much,” she said. “Yes, very surprised. And I’m very happy.

“The early part of the race was pretty good. But at 3,000 meters we were a little behind, so then I had to catch up on the pace. I could have run faster if the pacing was a little better.”

Back at the 34th running of Prefontaine Classic, where temperatures are expected to remain in the high 60s, Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the 10,000-meter world record-holder, will try to better the mark of 26:17.53 he set in Brussels in 2005.

American Abdi Abdirahman will attempt to use the competitive field to better the American 10,000 standard of 27:13.98 Meb Keflezighi set in May 2001.

Meet director Tom Jordan called this year’s Pre meet his best field ever, loaded with Americans who will make the Olympic team and international athletes who will medal in Beijing.

Big week in the sprints- First, 21-year-old Usain Bolt shattered the 100-meter world record at the Reebok Grand Prix last weekend in New York, dispensing U.S. Olympic 100/200 gold hopeful Tyson Gay. Bolt took down fellow Jamaican Asafa Powell’s world record of 9.74 set last September with a 9.72 flash.

Then Friday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected American Olympian Justin Gatlin’s appeal of his doping charges, upholding the four-year ban given to the 26-year-old sprinter earlier this year by another arbitration panel and ending Gatlin’s hope of a Olympic gold defense in the 100.

CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb had this take on the case: “Justin Gatlin wanted to participate in the Beijing Games, the IAAF [world governing body] wanted to see a life ban imposed on him, but the CAS panel has unanimously decided that four years was the right sanction,” Reeb said.

The ban ends on July 25, 2010, four years after Gatlin voluntarily accepted his provisional suspension.

Gatlin said he will continue to fight, but maybe he should use that energy to pursue his football career instead.

Race updates- Fewer than 500 of the 2,000 spots remain for the June 21 debut of the Baltimore 10-Miler, beginning at Druid Hill Park. Signups are at corrigansports.com.

And online registration for the 33rd Annapolis 10-Miler, slated for Aug. 24, opened June 1. Runner’s World selected the race as one of the nation’s best in their “Six Big Ten Milers to Run.”

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