Athletics: Kiptanui sets new standards

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The Independent Online
MOSES KIPTANUI broke a world record for the second time in four days last night, the Kenyan adding the 3,000 metres steeplechase crown to the flat record he broke in Cologne on Sunday.

Over the years we have witnessed many memorable performances from Kenyans such as Kip Keino and Henry Rono. But even these two all-time greats will agree Kiptanui's 8min 02.08sec betters their magnificent achievements.

Only two months ago Kiptanui failed to gain selection for the Kenyan Olympic team, a knee injury keeping him in fourth place in the sudden-death Kenyan trials. Later the selectors abandoned their disputed policy and reinstated last year's world champion.

Kiptanui refused their offer. It meant replacing his great friend, William Mutwol. Last night Mutwol was the only runner prepared to offer him a challenge before being burned off with three laps left.

With a lap remaining, Kiptanui only had to run 64 seconds to better the old record of 8:05.35, set by another Kenyan, Peter Koech, in Sweden three years ago. The 20- year-old dashed around the final circuit. He fell when doing the same thing last year before picking himself up to win, but this time there were no such distractions. He won by over nine seconds, predictably from another Kenyan, Philip Barkutwo, with Mutwol third.

Afterwards, looking remarkably fresh, he said: 'The pacemaker was too slow, so I went to the front after 1300 metres. When I saw the two kilometres split (5:21.79) I knew I was exactly at the pace I wanted.'

Colin Jackson was another person looking for a world record last night. The absence of his best friend and training partner, Mark McKoy, the Olympic 110m hurdles champion, did not help him.

The plain truth is that, after his one lapse of the year in Barcelona, the 25-year-old is in a class of his own against the remainder. No one offered him any opposition as he swept to a clear 13.06sec victory. Tony Dees, the Olympic silver medallist, was 0.11sec behind, Tony Jarrett finishing sixth in 13.44.

Jackson's time equals the second-fastest of his career, which he ran when breaking the European record for the first time this year in London at the beginning of July. In Cologne he lowered that record to 13.04.

It was Jackson's first victory in Zurich after six previous attempts. He said: 'I didn't get across the hurdles as easily as I did in Cologne and I did feel a bit of a headwind. Now I'm going to take a little break from training and hope to run some more fast times later.'

One of the best wins of the night came from David Sharpe in the 800m second string race. The 25-year-old, who beat Olympic champion William Tanui and all of the top British men in Sheffield last Friday, was refused an entry to the A race, despite that outstanding victory.

The 1990 European silver medallist proved his point and embarrassed the organisers by winning in a personal best of 1:43.98. This time has only been bettered by Seb Coe, Steve Cram, Peter Elliott and Tom McKean among Britons. It also placed him ahead of the former Olympic champion, Steve Ovett, on the UK all-time list.

Hitting the front with 200 metres remaining, he won by 0.98sec, ahead of team-mate Steve Heard, the Wolverhampton man's time of 1:44.96 also representing a personal best. Sharpe said: 'After taking the lead at 200 metres I kicked again on the bend and gave it all I had. I'm tremendously satisfied to do a lifetime best here in Zurich, of all places. It makes up for the disappointment of not going to the Olympics.'

His performance totally outshone that of Curtis Robb, who is being hailed as the natural successor to Coe and Ovett. The Liverpool man, seventh in the Olympic 800m final, was never in the hunt. Hoping to better his personal best of 1:45.16, he equalled that time in the A race as Tanui won in exactly the same time as Sharpe achieved.

Linford Christie may have stayed at home but six of those who fell to the Briton in Barcelona lined up for the 100m. The field was made up by Vitaliy Savin from the CIS and Carl Lewis. Lewis revelled in the reception the 25,000 crowd gave him, and paid them back by winning in 10.07sec, his fastest time of the year without wind assistance.

Significantly, he also beat Olapade Adenikin, of Nigeria, who has beaten Christie twice this summer. Joe Douglas, Lewis's manager, acknowledged that Christie was correct not to commit himself to racing in Zurich if he did not feel he was ready. But Douglas added: 'I'm ready to negotiate a deal as soon as Linford is in shape to compete against Carl. Sadly it seems that won't be until next year.'

Kriss Akabusi was also off colour again. The Olympic 400m hurdles bronze medallist finished fifth, in a slow 49.35sec, his race being won by the Olympic champion, Kevin Young, in 47.40.

From next year the Zurich meeting is to become one of the 'golden four', a concept unveiled yesterday by the organisers of the Weltklasse and the grand prix of Berlin, Brussels and Oslo. The London grand prix is also expected to become a member in due course.

In a move approved by the International Amateur Athletic Federation, the organisers have signed a five-year contract with the German TV and marketing company, UFA. The added income will allow the four to run a series of events, to be staged consecutively at each venue, with prizes in gold. The main advantage is that more prize money will be offered, as opposed to the appearance fees which currently dominate the sport. Blood testing for drug abuse is also planned.

(Photograph omitted)

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