His final opponent was the clock, which ticked away the seconds towards 27 minutes as he strove down the final straight, arms pumping, grimacing, attempting to lengthen his normal pattering stride. He stopped the clock at 26:58.38 to lower a world record which had been reduced to 27:07.91 just six days earlier by his compatriot, Richard Chelimo.
It was 28 years ago that Ron Clarke of Australia took the 10,000m event into new territory at this sheltered little Bislett Stadium, as he became the first man under 28 minutes in reducing his own world record to 27:39.4.
Although that kind of advance is no longer a possibility, Ondieki's was a run to rank alongside Clarke's. He reached 5,000m in 13:28 in company with fellow Kenyan William Sigei, the world cross country champion. That was five seconds inside world record schedule. By 7,000 metres, Sigei was dropping away. At 9,000 Ondieki was eight seconds inside schedule; at the bell, he needed a last lap of just 70 seconds to become history's first sub-27 minutes runner. He was not going to let that opportunity slip.
Whether Ondieki will appear in this summer's world championships still seems to be a moot point, however. When questioned on the subject, Ondieki, who does not want to run in the Kenyan trials later this month, said it was up to the Kenyan Athletics Federation. Asked if he would go to Stuttgart if picked, he said he would have to talk to his wife, Lisa.
Noureddine Morceli's attempt to beat Steve Cram's world mile record of 3:46.32 fell just short. The Algerian finished in 3:47.78. The world record holder himself having stayed sensibly near the back in the early stages charged through to take third place behind Abdi Bile, of Somalia, in a time of 3:52.17 - astonishing, given the relatively dismal season he has had so far. After looking like a lost soul in his efforts to move up to 5,000m, here Cram looks like a competitor again. There can be no doubt that he will now concentrate on the distance where his natural talent lies.
'It was great having contact and passing people,' Cram said. 'At 200 metres my left leg was sore but it's just nice to be competing again at this level.'
The 800m saw an equally startling performance from another Briton, Martin Steele, who finds himself in the form of his life at the age of 30. The Longwood harrier, who was not picked for the European Cup final last month despite winning the British Championship and then beating the man who got the trip to Rome, Tom McKean, won in a personal best of 1:43.84. It was the fastest time in the world this year and the fourth fastest by a Briton. McKean was a ragged last in 1:49.32.
David Grindley's attempt to break his own British 400m record of 44.47 was unsuccessful. He went out hard and as the stagger unwound into the final straight he was second behind the United States champion Michael Johnson. Butch Reynolds, the world record holder, made a late surge into second place but Johnson held him off to win in the relatively slow time of 44.89. Grindley was third in 45.35.
It has not been a good week for Khalid Skah of Morocco. Having originally planned to break the world 10,000m record himself at this meeting, he chose to run at 5,000m instead after Chelimo - whom he defeated so controversially in last year's Olympic 5,000m final - had beaten him to it in Stockholm. Skah, whose relations with Kenyan athletes have deteriorated over the years, had to watch Ondieki take the record out of sight before setting off in a race where he was eventually beaten in a sprint finish - normally his strength by yet another Kenyan, Paul Bitok, who finished in 13:08.68.
Linford Christie did all that could have been expected in a 100m final that lacked Andre Cason, who dropped out after winning his heat in 10.16sec because of a viral infection. On a track not noted for its fast sprinting times, Christie won in 10.09 ahead of the man who took silver behind him in Barcelona, Frankie Fredericks, who ran 10.11.
Cason, who had beaten Carl Lewis in Lausanne three days earlier, had spent the day debating whether he would participate after complaining of a bad night and running a high temperature which caused him to change the covers on his bed twice.
'It looked easy for Andre,' his coach Loren Seagrave said. 'But afterwards I had to take him outside the stadium because he wanted to be sick. I took the decision for him not to run in the final.'
Yvonne Murray lost her first 3,000m race of the season despite running well. It was simply that Sonia O'Sullivan of Ireland, who missed an Olympic medal in this event by 0.19sec last year, ran better, lowering her own world best time of the year to 8:28.24. Murray kept in touch to finish second in 8:30.30.
RESULTS FROM BISLETT
100m: 1 L Christie (GB) 10.09sec; 2 F Fredericks (Nam) 10.11; 3 M Green (Jam) 10.21; 4 O Adeniken (Nigeria) 10.24; 5 D Braithwaite (GB) 10.44; 6 D Campbell (GB) 10.46.
400m: 1 M Johnson (US) 44.89sec; 2 B Reynolds (US) 45.02; 3 D Grindley (GB) 45.35; 4 S Kitur (Ken) 45.41; 5 D Clark (Aus) 45.67; 6 D Ladejo (GB) 47.55.
800m: 1 M Steele (GB) 1:43.84; 2 S Langat (Ken) 1:44.72; 3 M Koers (Neth) 1:44.84; 8 T McKean (GB) 1:49.32.
Dream mile: 1 N Morceli (Alg) 3min 47.78sec; 2 A Bile (Som) 3:51.66; 3 S Cram (GB) 3:52.17; 5 M Yates (GB) 3:52.75.
5,000m: 1 P Bitok (Ken) 13:8.68; 2 K Skah (Mor) 13:09.35; 3 V Rousseau (Bel) 13:10.99.
10,000m: 1 Y Ondieki (Ken) 26min 58.38sec (world record); 2 W Sigei (Ken) 27:16.81; 3 A Gomez (Sp) 27:39.88; 4 R Nerurkar (GB) 27:40.03.
110m hurdles: 1 C Jackson (GB) 13.21sec; 2 J Pierce (US) 13.21; 3 T Jarrett (GB) 13.35; 4 G Terry (US) 13.45; 5 M Crear (US) 13.62.
3,000m steeplechase: 1 R Kosgei (Ken) 8:12.68; 2 M Kiptanui (Ken) 8:12.70; 3 M Croghan (US) 8:13.44.
Triple jump: 1 J Edwards (GB) 17.14m; 2 B Wellman (Berm) 16.59; 3 K Hanstveit (Nor) 16.34.
Pole vault: 1 M Tarasov (Rus) 5.90m; 2 I Potapovich (Kaz) 5.70; 3 V Bukrejev (Est) 5.60.
Shot: 1 W Gunthor (Swit) 21.42; 2 R Barnes (US) 21.06; 3 M Stulce (US) 20.55.
100m: 1 M Ottey (Jam) 10.94; 2 G Torrence (US) 10.98; 3 I Privalova (Rus) 11.15; 6 B Kinch (GB) 11.51.
800m: 1 M Mutola (Moz) 1:56.51; 2 K Holmes (GB) 1:59.16; 3 J Clarck (US) 1:59.96; 4 D Modahl (GB) 2:01.31.
3,000m: 1 S O'Sullivan (Irl) 8:28.74; 2 Y Murray (GB) 8:30.30; 3 E Meyer (SA) 8:32.81; 6 P Radcliffe (GB) 8:44.34.
400m hurdles: 1 K Batten (US) 54.18; 2 T Buford (US) 54.72; 3 S Farmer-Patrick (US) 54.89; 6 G Retchakan (GB) 55.84.
Long jump: 1 H Drechsler (Ger) 7.10; 2 I Kravets (Ukr) 6.87; 3 R Nielsen (Den) 6.84.
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