Athletics: Bekele takes second world record from Gebrselassie

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The Independent Online

On the day when Venus passed across the face of the Sun there was a total eclipse on earth as Kenenisa Bekele, the young Ethiopian who has shadowed the great Haile Gebrselassie for two years, took a second world record from his older compatriot in the space of nine days.

On the day when Venus passed across the face of the Sun there was a total eclipse on earth as Kenenisa Bekele, the young Ethiopian who has shadowed the great Haile Gebrselassie for two years, took a second world record from his older compatriot in the space of nine days.

Bekele broke Gebrselassie's six-year-old 10,000 metres mark of 26min 22.75sec with a time of 26:20.31 at last night's meeting in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Last week in Hengelo he beat the Olympic 10,000m champion's six-year-old 5,000m mark of 12.39.36 with a time of 12:37.37.

"I'm very happy," Bekele said after crossing the line. "I knew only on the last lap that I would break the record." He added that he would "probably" seek to win the Olympic 10,000m title in Athens two months from now, having already secured the world title at that distance in Paris last summer.

The 21-year-old farmer's son from the Arsi Province,where Gebrselassie was also brought up, has now come fully of age in athletics terms. Indeed, he has already achieved something his elder peer never could by winning the world cross-country title, no fewer than three times.

Bekele's was the second world record of the night after Stacy Dragila, the US Olympic pole vault champion, set a new outdoor mark of 4.83 metres, bettering by one centimetre the height reached by Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva in Gateshead last July.

Two months ago the Russian triumphed over the American in an epic final at the World Indoor Championships in Budapest, setting the world indoor record of 4.86m in the process. With Russia's previous world record holder, Svetlana Feofanova, desperate to regain her pre-eminence, this event looks like providing the Olympics with one of the most fiercely contested events of the athletics programme.

The man whose 11-year-old mark of 6.15m still stands as the men's world record, Sergei Bubka, was present to watch Dragila, and commented: "The level she showed today will make the build-up for Athens that much bigger. I think 5m will happen. These athletes are really pushing their sport to new levels quickly."

Britain's Kelly Holmes had to settle for third place in the 1500 metres after running out of steam in the final metres. But she was content with her time of 4min 04.18sec, well inside the Olympic A qualifying standard of 4.05.80, in a race won by Ukraine's Irina Lischinskaya in 4.03.74.

Her training partner Maria Mutola won the 800m in the world's best time this season, 1min 57.52sec, with Britain's Jo Fenn sixth in 2:02.56.

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