If Haile Gebrselassie had any doubts about his own sprinting ability, he didn’t show it today. After watching his chief rival, Spain’s Alberto García, move to the front with 3½ laps left, the Ethiopian calmly followed and then sprinted away two laps later for his third World Indoor title.
Gebrselassie’s winning time was 7:40.97, with García claiming the silver (7:42.08) ahead of a fast-closing Luke Kipkosgei of Kenya (7:42.56).
In a typically tactical contest, the twelve competitors stayed in a tight pack, as first Jaouad Gharib and then his Moroccan teammate Abderrahim Goumri took the front-running chores.
García apparently felt his only chance for a win was to test the Ethiopian’s ability to sprint for a long time, as he suddenly bolted to the lead with 700 metres remaining.
But all this succeeded in doing was to draw out both Ethiopians - Gebrselassie and Abiyote Abate and the two Kenyans - Kipkosgei and Leonard Mucheru - into a front-running pack.
With 400 to go, Holland’s Gert-Jan Liefers also decided to see if his background as a 1500 runner would result in a medal as he pulled into fourth behind García and the two Ethiopians.
In the final sprint, as Gebrselassie and García had already claimed the top two medals for themselves, the fight for the bronze ensued, with Kipkosgei ending victorious.
Liefers’ late-race move resulted in a national-record 7:44.34 in fifth, just ahead of Mucheru’s sixth-place 7:44.83.