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Athletics: Denmark predicts a record summer

HAILE GEBRESILASIE'S performance in reducing Said Aouita's seven-year-old 5,000 metres world record by almost a second and a half has thrown down the gauntlet to his Kenyan middle-distance rivals.

In steady rain at the Hengelo meeting in the Netherlands, the 21-year-old policeman from Assela clocked 12min 56.96sec to become only the second runner to beat 13 minutes for the distance and the first Ethiopian to hold a world track record.

'Conditions were perfect for me. I like the rain,' said Gebresilasie, whose target for Saturday's race had been 12min 50sec. 'It was only when I began the last lap that I felt I was in with a chance of the world record.'

The lightly built farmer's son from a family of 10 childen covered the last kilometre in 2min 29sec, nearly 4sec faster than Aouita had managed during his 1987 run in Rome.

Gebresilasie has always had a devastating kick - as he showed in out-sprinting Moses Tanui, of Kenya, to take the world 10,000m title last summer. Here he ran the last 400 in an astonishing 58sec.

The performance stands as a particular challenge to Ismael Kirui, Kenya's 19-year-old world 5,000m champion, who denied Gebresilasie a 5,000 and 10,000m double in Stuttgart last summer.

It also made its impact on Rob Denmark, Britain's European Cup 5,000m champion, who ran Kirui close in a 5km road race in Aberdeen two weeks ago. 'It was an unbelievable performance,' Denmark said. 'Just when you think you've got it sussed it all changes again] He's really put the cat among the pigeons. I wouldn't bet against the record being broken again this season.'

Gebresilasie was running against a strong field - but his compatriot, Worku Bikila, finished almost 13sec behind him. The Russian, Viner Kashayev, was a distant third. Gebresilasie's previous best 5,000m time, set as he narrowly failed to catch up with Kirui's breakaway in Stuttgart, was 13:03.17.

----------------------------------------------------------------- THE 5,000m WORLD RECORD ----------------------------------------------------------------- Time Runner Date 13:35.0 V Kuts (USSR) 13.10.57 13:34.8 R Clarke (Aus) 16.1.65 13:33.6 R Clarke 1.2.65 13:25.8 R Clarke 4.6.65 13:24.2 K Keino (Ken) 30.11.65 13:16.6 R Clarke 5.7.66 13:16.4 L Viren (Fin) 14.9.72 13:13.0 E Puttemans (Bel) 20.9.72 13:12.86 D Quax (NZ) 5.7.77 13.08.4 H Rono (Ken) 8.4.78 13:06.20 H Rono 13.9.81 13:00.41 D Moorcroft (GB) 7.7.82 13:00.40 S Aouita (Mor) 27.7.85 12:58.39 S Aouita 22.7.87 12:56.96 H Gebresilasie (Eth) 4.6.94 -----------------------------------------------------------------