29 JAN 2004 General News Boston, USA

Gebrselassie heads distance fest in Boston

Haile Gebrselassie (ETH) - 3000m Heats (Getty Images)Haile Gebrselassie (ETH) - 3000m Heats (Getty Images) © Copyright

In the city which gave the world one of its oldest marathons, a relatively new meeting leans heavily on distance events. The ninth edition of the adidas Boston Indoor Games, held at the Reggie Lewis Centre in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood this Saturday 31 January, will feature World record attempts in its two longest races.

Ethiopia hopes to capture (or recapture) records in the women's 5000m and men's 3000m, records currently belonging to Gabriela Szabo of Romania and Daniel Komen of Kenya, respectively.

The Ethiopian trio of Derartu Tulu, Meseret Defar, and Tirunesh Dibaba will chase Szabo's mark (14:47.35). All three athletes possess scorching closing speed and stellar credentials, from Tulu's two Olympic and one World 10,000 golds and three World Cross long course titles to Dibaba's precocious World Championship 5000m win just last summer.

Haile Gebrselassie will open his indoor season with an attempt to reclaim his 3000m World record from Komen. With eight of the ten fastest times ever, Gebrselassie will need to lower his six-year-old PR of 7:26.15 by exactly one and one-quarter seconds to equal Komen's mark, but his 2003 best of 7:32.9 would still set an event record by nearly five seconds.

Gebrselassie may be challenged by Bernard Lagat, better known as the world's second-fastest 1500m runner but the 1999 NCAA champion at twice the distance. Gebrselassie's last race in Boston, ominously, was the 1992 World Junior Cross Country race, where he finished second.

Dragila aiming high

Olympic champion Stacy Dragila vaulted 4.71 at this meeting last year, and put up a mark of 4.78 (then a World record) when the U.S. Championships came to the Reggie Lewis Center a month later. If Dragila is the last vaulter remaining in the meeting's only field event, she will almost certainly raise the standards to 4.80, Svetlana Feofanova's current World record, and carry on her tradition of record attempts here. Dragila is already in fine form having had two meets over 4.70m already this winter with a best of 4.71 at Flagstaff, Arizona on 17 January.

Krummenacker and Devers

The opening meeting of USATF's "Golden Spike" indoor tour will also include stars in other events.

World Indoor 800m champion David Krummenacker returns to the meet where he set the 1000m American Record (2:17.86) in 2002.

Multiple Olympic medallist and three-time World outdoor 100m Hurdles champion Gail Devers ran 7.74 in the 60m Hurdles on this track last year, and went on win the World Indoor Championship title. This year she'll face Melissa Morrison, third-fastest in the world last year and current world leader at 8.04.

The men's flat 60m dash features the 2003 World outdoor 200m gold and silver medallists, John Capel and Darvis Patton, as well as superstar hurdler Allen Johnson, who is a late addition to the field.