11 FEB 2010 General News Birmingham, UK

With eye on Doha, Lagat sets Birmingham 1500m date

Bernard Lagat on the way to the US record in his indoor 5000m debut (Victah Sailer)Bernard Lagat on the way to the US record in his indoor 5000m debut (Victah Sailer) © Copyright
Eying the 3000m at next month’s World Indoor Championships, two-time Olympic medallist and 2007 double World champion  Bernard Lagat will return to Birmingham with his sights set on a winning performance over 1500m at the Aviva Grand Prix on Saturday 20 February.

The Aviva Grand Prix is penultimate competition of the nine-meeting IAAF Indoor Permit series.

The American has already enjoyed a terrific start to the year, winning the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games in New York last month for an historic eighth time. He followed that up a week later with a new US national record over 5000m in Boston.

Last year Lagat finished second at the Aviva Grand Prix behind Kenya’s Augustine Choge, and this time around he’s aiming for the top spot.

Lagat said:  “This year is going really well and I’m feeling in great shape, so I definitely want to continue that form in Birmingham. I’m racing over 1500m and I’m looking forward to running again with Augustine Choge which is always tough!  I know the competition will be a good one, that’s great, I like it like that.”

Choge, a former World youth and World junior champion, has impressed this season as well, first with a 3:36.75 1500m victory in Dusseldorf, and again in Stockholm on Wednesday (10) with a strong 7:31.75 victory over 3000m. Lagat believes he’s up to the challenge.

“I’ve raced in Birmingham a number of times before and set a new US record over 3000m there two years ago, so I know what to expect and I know I can perform well there.”

Indeed with the World Indoor Championships in Doha just three weeks after the Aviva Grand Prix, and the US team Trials in Albuquerque the week after the UKA meet, the 35-year-old shows no sign of slowing down as he looks to finalise his preparations for further global success.

“This year the World Indoor championships in Doha are just around the corner.  They are high on the agenda,” said Lagat, who took the World indoor 3000m title in 2004. “I’m planning to be running 3000m there so this 1500m is a really important part of my preparations.  Presuming I qualify for the team I’ll be going there to win. I’m in good shape and good form and am confident in my abilities.  Yes I got two medals last year in Berlin but I’m disappointed not to have won.”

New Zealander Nick Willis, the 2008 Olympic silver medallist and the current world’s fastest miler, will also be competing in the 1500m and is sure to prove stiff competition for Lagat.

Organisers for the IAAF