Barnard Lagat of Team Americas winning the 5000m at the IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup in Split (Getty Images) © Copyright
In a tactical race, the American out-sprinted Moses Kipsiro of Team Africa over the final 75 metres to collect a 13:58.23 victory, one that he characterised as “not as easy as it looked”.
“It’s 12 and a half laps, so that's never easy,” said Lagat who, at 35 set new U.S. records at both 3000 and 5000 metres this season. “But I felt very comfortable and felt very confident.” Particularly over the final lap, which he covered in just over 51 seconds.
Already a World Cup champion in the 1500m from 2002, Lagat will now be aiming for a double in tomorrow’s 3000m to become the first person to win titles in three different events. “I’m looking to take another tomorrow,” he said.
A dawdling pace through the first four kilometres, reached in 11:33.47, left the entire field of nine still in contention. It wasn’t until two laps remained, with Kipsiro running at the front just ahead of Lagat and Imane Merga, that the tempo picked up and the real race for the finish began.
Kipsiro led at the bell, shadowed by Lagat and Team Europe’s Bob Tahri, and looked in good position entering the final turn with sizeable gap on Lagat. But the Kenyan-born American ate up that deficit quickly before moving to the front for good some 70 metres from the finish.
Kipsiro (13:58.35) finished second to collect seven points for Team Africa, with Tahri (13:58.79) third and Edwin Soi (13:59.04) fourth.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF