Bernard Lagat completes a 3000/5000m double at the IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup in Split (Getty Images) © Copyright
Kicking away from Moses Kipsiro and Tariku Bekele with about 80 metres to go, Lagat forged on unchallenged to reach the line in 7:54.75 to win his second IAAF / VTB Continental Cup title of the weekend, and the third of his career.
‘One, two, three,” the American 3000 and 5000m record holder said, extending his fingers to list his achievements at this quadrennial competition. Yesterday Lagat produced a solid win in the 5000m, nearly eight years after taking the 1500m at the 2002 World Cup in Madrid. “I have to list this very high with some of my other achievements.”
Like yesterday’s 5000m, the race began at a modest pace, in the end playing nicely to the tactically experienced Lagat. Besides a brief foray by Diego Alberto Borrego of Mexico as the field approached the 1000-metre point, Kenyans Moses Kipsiro and Vincent Yator and Tariku Bekele of Ethiopia took turns with the lead, with Lagat never farther than a step behind.
Bekele and Kipsiro were the first to reach the bell, when the tempo took a noticeable rise. With about 250 metres to go, Ecuador’s Bayron Piedra made his move for the front, but any attempt at an upset was short-lived.
Heading off the final bend, Lagat was on the inside, trapped ever so briefly on the inside. When Bekele ran slightly wide at the top of the stretch, Lagat was quick to react. Slipping through the gap, Lagat switched gears and confidently cruised towards the line, victory never in doubt. He stopped the clock in 7:54.75, well clear of Kipsiro who finished second in yesterday’s 5000 as well.
The surprise of the day was Piedra who passed Tariku over the final 40 metres to take a surprise third for Team Americas, clocking 7:55.52.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF