Wilfred Bungei of Kenya on his way to victory in the men's 800m final (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Ostrava, Czech Republic

Bungei tops Ostrava 800 field, Tariku Bekele in 3000

Wilfred Bungei, the reigning World Indoor 800 metre champion, will headline his specialty at the Golden Spike Grand Prix on 30 May in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

The Kenyan, who notched a narrow win over defending champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of South Africa and home town favourite Yuriy Borzakovskiy in Moscow in March to capture his first international title, set the Ostrava meeting record in 2003 when he clocked 1:43.24. Bungei, who opens his outdoor season in Doha on Friday (12 May), has his sights set on lowering his own record at the eastern Czech venue.

"I want to promise to the spectators a very fast time," Bungei said, adding that he hopes a pacemaker can help with a 49.5 first half. "And I do not do that very often."

The field will also include Kenyan Alfred Kirwa and Asian record holder Youssef Saad Kamel of Bahrain.

Organisers are also assembling the field for the men's 3000 metres, named in honour of Czech legend Emil Zatopek. Tariku Bekele, the younger brother of World and Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele, will make his first start in Ostrava, though a bib  carrying his name, already made the rounds at the Golden Spike. In 2004, the elder Bekele was mistakenly given his younger brother's bib prior to his 10,000 metre race in which he set a World record of 26:20.31.

Adil Kaouch of Morocco, the silver medallist at 1500 metres at last year's World Championships, will be in the field as well. The 27-year-old was third in the short race at last month's World Cross Country Championships.

Hicham El Guerrouj, the double Olympic champion, will return to Ostrava as well, but he has yet to decide if he will race.

The World record holder at 1500 metres and the mile, El Guerrouj made his debut at 5000 in Ostrava in 2003, where he was defeated by Saif Saaeed Shaheen.

"I am in good training, but am still having difficulties to find the right motivation," said El Guerrouj, who hasn't raced since his historic 1500/5000m triumph in Athens. "But for sure I will come to honour the great Emil Zatopek."

Thus far, more than 20 medallists from last year's World Championships and the 2004 Olympic Games, as well as six recently-minted World Indoor Champions are scheduled to compete.