Athletics: Gebrselassie sweeps to world record

THE EMPEROR is back," said the banner here yesterday, "Others off the track." The faith of an estimated 500 Ethiopian supporters was rewarded as Haile Gebrselassie repeated his world-record breaking exploits of last season in this arena to establish a new mark for the 5,000m and bring the Bupa Grand Prix to a successful climax.

As the volume of his followers reached maximum, the Olympic 10,000m champion crossed the line in 12min 50.38sec, despite having to weave his way around three lapped runners on the final bend. His time, for his 15th world record, eclipsed that of 12:51.48 set last year by Kenya's Daniel Komen, who himself had failed earlier in the day to beat the world 2,000m record Gebrselassie set here last February.

Jamie Baulch, silver medallist at the last World Indoor Championships, indicated here yesterday that he is in the kind of form to go one better in Maebashi, Japan, next month. The Welshman won the 400m in 45.60sec, his fastest time of the season.

"I have big hopes for Maebashi," said Baulch. "I managed a silver last time and I want to go one better. I am not going to say I will win it, but that's what I want."

Colin Jackson's bad luck in the 60m hurdles continued as he was beaten for the second time in a week. The 31-year-old Welshman finished second behind Duane Ross of the United States as a race which had already been recalled twice got under way despite what Jackson believed was a clear infringement of the rules by Robin Korving of the Netherlands.

Korving, apparently expecting to be penalised, remained near his blocks as the field got away. Ross won in 7.48sec, narrowly ahead of Jackson, who recorded 7.50.

"I definitely thought the race would be recalled for a third false start,' said Jackson. Following an International Amateur Athletic Federation rule change last year, starters are obliged to recall fields if the electronic equipment measuring reaction times registers any competitor getting off the mark in less than 0.01sec from the gun. But such equipment is not installed other than at major championships.

There were other highly promising developments here for British sprinters, as Jason Gardener ran a personal best of 6.52 to finish second in a 60m won by Deji Aliu of Nigeria. And John Regis returned to re-establish his credentials by winning the 200m in 20.50.

Regis has had more time to devote himself to his training following BBC's assumption of the television coverage of domestic events in place of Channel 4, for whom the former world silver medallist worked as a trackside interviewer.

Meanwhile in Arnstadt, Germany, Britain's Olympic bronze medallist Steve Smith, who claimed he had not been offered sufficient money to appear at yesterday's meeting in Birmingham, maintained his promising return from injury with a jump of 2.27m as he took second place in a specialist meeting.

Smith, who jumped 2.24m on Friday in what was his first competitive appearance since badly injuring his neck last July, will be satisfied that he has proved a point to the organisers of the British event.

Katharine Merry got the event off to a record start when she regained the British indoor 200m mark from Donna Fraser with a time of 22.83.

Within the hour, the international colleague with whom she shares a training base on the outskirts of Birmingham, Ashia Hansen, produced the biggest triple jump of the season but was still unable to call herself a winner.

The world indoor record holder equalled the 14.76m jumped by Sarka Kasparkova with her final attempt, but the athlete from the Czech Republic got the verdict by virtue of a better second best effort.

Komen was unable to match Gebrselassie's achievement in the 2,000m. The Kenyan was never a serious challenger in a race won by fellow Kenyan Laban Rotich in 4:56.09, more than three seconds outside Gebrselassie's mark.

Maria Mutola failed in her attempt to beat the 10-year-old world 800m record of 1:56.40, but finished with an all-comers' record of 1:58.25.

Janine Whitlock did manage a record - raising her UK pole vault mark to 4.49m.

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