That evening in Belgium was the stuff of nightmares as far as Gebrselassie was concerned. In the course of the meeting, he failed in his attempt to set a world 3,000m and the saw records at 5,000m and 10,000m which he had established earlier in the season fall within the space of an hour to two Kenyans.
Tergat's achievement was preceded by an another outstanding performance from his fellow countryman Daniel Komen, who set a 5,000m best of 12min 39.74sec.
Gebrselassie vowed afterwards that he would regain both records - and now he is halfway there. On a still, warm evening at the track in Hengelo, in The Netherlands, where he first set a world record for this distance in 1995, he was inside Tergat's intermediate times from very early in the race, paced by three fellow Ethiopians. At the halfway stage he was five seconds inside the Kenyan's schedule, but he completed the final 4,000m on his own.
Ominously for his opponents, he warned afterwards that there was more to come. "I have prepared very well and I was really confident," he said. "I wanted to run 26.20 or maybe 26.15. I know I can and I will."
The only potential hitch in Gebrselassie's evening came two-thirds of the way through his race. "Between 6,000 and 7,000 metres things were not quite right," he said. "I don't why, but I was not running the way I wanted to. I woke up in the last kilometre. I didn't realise I was not going fast enough, but then I saw the time and I pushed a little harder."
Gebrselassie, who is still only 25, was running last night on the next best thing to home territory - he lives during the summer in a house in the the Netherlands, owned by his manager Josh Hermens.
On 5 June 1995, he set his first world 10,000m record here with a time of 26:43.53, taking nearly nine seconds off the time set the previous year in Oslo by another Kenyan, William Sigei.
Last year the meeting proved bitter-sweet for him as he defeated Noureddine Morceli in their much publicised $1m challenge race over two miles. Unfortunately for the Ethiopian he failed to secure the million dollars, which was on offer if either man broke the eight minute barrier. Gebrselassie, despite running a world record, missed it by 1.08sec.Reuse content