Bernard Lagat completes a 3000/5000m double at the IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup in Split (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Melbourne, Australia

Lagat joins all-star cast for Melbourne 5000m showdown - IAAF World Challenge

Just days after US distance duo Chris Solinsky and Matt Tegenkamp signed up to take on the men’s 5000m at the Melbourne Track Classic - the kick off the 14-meeting 2011 IAAF World Challenge - at Melbourne Olympic Park next month, countryman Bernard Lagat has today confirmed he too will feature in the all-star line-up.

Lagat, a two-time World champion (2007 - 1500m, 5000m), two-time World indoor champion (2004 - 3000m, 2010 - 3000m) and dual Olympic medallist (2000 - bronze 1500m, 2004 - silver 1500m), will take to the start line alongside his US teammates, Australian 5000m record-holder Craig Mottram and Commonwealth Games 5000m representatives Collis Birmingham and Ben St Lawrence in the feature race on Thursday, 3 March.

"I'm really excited about coming to Melbourne to run the 5000m on March 3,” Lagat said.

“I hear it's the same stadium that I ran the 1500m in the Grand Prix Final in 2001 and I know I was second that day to Hicham El Guerrouj. Let me try to go one better 10 years down the track."

“I feel good in my training and preparations and I have a lot of ambition to run well over 5000m for the next few years.”

Lagat, who made his Olympic debut at the Sydney Games with bronze over 1500m, will again make the trek Down Under to take on the 5000m, which doubles as the national championship event and Athletics Australia’s World championships selection trial.

The American, now 36, has shown no signs of slowing down in the lead-up to the 2011 IAAF world championships in Daegu in August, setting new personal best times and US national records over 3000m (7:29.00) and 5000m (12:54.12) across an impressive 2010 season. Lagat holds the US record for the 1500m, 3000m and 5000m events.

In Melbourne he will join Australia’s top hopes in pursuit of the World Championships A-qualifying time of 13:20.00 and aim to stitch up his ticket to Daegu.

A native Kenyan, Lagat attended Washington State University, where he trained under still-current coach James Li, and in 2007 lined up for the USA for the first time, later moving his training base to Tucson, Arizona.

Lagat joins fellow middle distance men Solinsky and Tegenkamp, world 800m record-holder David Rudisha (KEN) and former world and world indoor shot put champion Reese Hoffa (USA) on the international guest list for the 2011 Australian Athletics Tour.

Athletics Australia for the IAAF