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Event Preview Men 5000 metres

The start list for this event reads like a hand picked field. The race contains the current World champion, a previous World champion, the championship record holder, current World Junior champion, the World Junior record holder as well as two World Cross Country champions, and the man who could upset them all, Hicham EL GUERROUJ (MAR).

Athletes with the least experience over 5000m lead the rankings. El Guerrouj is the fastest qualifier with 12:50.24, which was his first competitive 5000m since his World Junior title in Seoul 1992. The popular favourite is Kenenisa BEKELE (ETH) who has not competed at a senior international championship on the track but won the cross country double this year and is seen by many as the successor to countryman and world record holder Haile GEBRESELASSIE, who will run the 10000m.

Bekele has raced three times on the European circuit this year and won two of those comprehensively. His second place at the Golden Gala in Rome was where Abraham CHEBII (KEN) revealed his talent, out sprinting both Bekele and Gebrselassie. Chebii has won most of his races with a fast last lap, including the national trials in Nairobi where he was apparently carrying a foot injury. He has not competed at a major championship.

Chebii will be joined by Eliud KIPCHOGE whose personal best of 12:52.61 is the World Junior record. The 18-year-old also owns a World Cross Country title and the third fastest qualifying time. John KIBOWEN was fourth in Edmonton and won the Weltklasse 5000m in Zurich earlier this month. He is one of ten athletes in the field who have run under 13 minutes. Such is the strength of the Kenyan team that the reigning world champion, Richard LIMO, comes into the meet as the fourth fastest this season.

LIMO’s automatic entry gives the Kenyans the advantage of fielding four athletes in the final which will surely affect the outcome. The two other Ethiopians will be either Gebre-egziabher GEBREMARIAM, Abiyote ABATE or Hailu MEKONNEN.

Salah HISSOU (MAR) won his World title in Seville in 1999 but in the intervening years did not display the same form. However, the championship record holder has run under thirteen minutes this year with  a 12:59.15 in Rome, as has Abdullah Ahmad HASSAN (QAT).

One of the decisive factors of the race could be the effect of running two distances as El Guerrouj attempts to win the 1500m and Bekele the 10000m as well.