Athletics: Still more records fall to Kipketer and Barmasi

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The Independent Online


Wilson Kipketer and Bernard Barmasi extended an extraordinary sequence of world record-breaking performances yes- terday with new marks in the 800 metres and 3,000m steeplechase respectively.

Kipketer, who broke Sebastian Coe's 16-year-old 800m mark in Zurich on August 13, took another 0.13sec off his time with 1min 41.11sec at the Cologne Grand Prix. Barmasi, second in Zurich when his Kenyan compatriot Wilson Boit Kipketer set a new steeplechase record of 7min 59.08sec, reduced that mark to 7:55.72.

Thus, in the space of just 12 days, seven world records have been set, and all in middle distance events - two in the 800m, two in the 5,000m, two in the steeplechase and one in the 10,000m.

The introduction of a $100,000 [pounds 62,500] bonus for world records set during this year's world championships led many to forecast that there would be a crop of new marks in Athens earlier this month. In fact there were none, but now the sport is experiencing a glut.

The third world record set in Zurich, by Haile Gebrselassie over 5,000m, was surpassed in Brussels on Friday when Kenya's Daniel Komen recorded 12min 39.74sec. Within an hour, Paul Tergat of Kenya had also deprived Gebrselassie of his 10,000m record, finishing in 26min 27.85sec.

Kipketer's performance yesterday was half expected. The 24-year-old world champion timed his effort perfectly on a hot, still afternoon, remaining in second place for the first 600 metres and leaving Patrick Konchellah of Kenya to set the pace.

With 200 metres remaining, Kipketer kicked almost effortlessly, sprinting for the line to rapturous applause from the 30,000 spectators. Konchellah, whose elder brother Billy paced Coe to his record in 1981, finished a distant second in 1:42.98.

"The `rabbit' may be perfect, but if you are not perfect you won't run a world record," said Kipketer, who will miss the Berlin grand prix tomorrow and run his final event at next month's grand prix final in Fukuoka.

Kipketer, Kenyan-born but now competing for Denmark, indicated his potential for the season by breaking the world indoor record twice in March.

Barmasi's performance came as a surprise. In the absence of the world record holder, Boit Kipketer, who pulled out of the meeting with a knee injury, Moses Kiptanui, Kenya's dominant force in the event for the last few years, appeared ready to regain the record he had lost in Zurich.

He cleared the last hurdle in front. But in the final straight, Barmasi - three years younger than his compatriot at 23 - came through to win.