7 June 2000 Milan - Ethiopian long distance running legend Haile Gebreselassie started his countdown to the Sydney Olympics with a win at the Notturna di Milano IAAF permit meeting on Wednesday night.
Gebreselassie duly won the 5,000m in 13:01.60. A long way off his peak condition he led without ever forcing the pace, beating Kenyan Kabii in a sprint. Another Kenyan Sammy Kipketer took third.
With world champion Maurice Greene sidelined with an intestinal infection, it was up to U.S. veteran sprinter Dennis Mitchell to take the 100 metres. 34 year old Mitchell won the race in an unimpressive time of 10.33 seconds, ahead of fellow-American Bryan Howard. Howard, Greene's training mate, had 10.40 in a warm evening at Milan's ancient Arena.
Greene, who was set to be the star in Italy's first major outdoor meet, took over the duty of delivering Mitchell a trophy at the awarding ceremony.
The world record holder, in a fashionable suit, was mobbed by fans as he arrived at the arena.
Greene explained he suffered from some sort of food poisoning, adding he still must decide whether starting in the next meet at Helsinki on June 15.
Greene will be shooting for three gold medals, in the sprints and in the 400m relay, at the summer Olympics in Sydney.
In the 400-meter hurdles, Britain's Chris Rawlinson set the world best season performance, in 48.22 seconds, as he upset World Champion Fabrizio Mori of Italy who finished second in 48.41.
Italy's Fabrizio Donato, 23, set a national record of 17.60m in the men's triple jump, improving by 31 centimetres the previous national mark by Paolo Camossi.
Wilfried Bungei led a Kenyan sweep of the three top places in the men's 800m, in 1:44.50.
Tyree Washinton and Jerome Davis produced a 1-2 U.S. finish in the 400m, with Washington prevailing in 44.84.
Bahamas' Debbie Ferguson took the women's 200m in 22.63, beating the U.S. trio of Nancine Perry, Inger Miller and La Tasha Jenkins.
British-born Italian Fiona May beat Germany's Heike Drechsler in the women's long jump, with 7.07m on her first leap. Drechsler had 6.66.