Athletics

Ndiku thwarts Lagat's bid

Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku (Getty Images)
Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku (Getty Images)

Sopot - US veteran Bernard Lagat's tilt at taking a place in the record books with a fourth victory in the world indoor 3000m was squashed by Kenyan upstart Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku on Sunday.

A fourth gold medal in the event would have put the Kenyan-born Lagat one victory ahead of Ethiopian great Haile Gebrselassie in the all-time annals of the World Indoor Championships.

But the 39-year-old Lagat, who claimed the first of his three world indoor titles in 2004 when he raced for his native Kenya, had not counted on the fast last-lap pace of the towering 21-year-old Ndiku.

"The race was tactical, as I expected for the final, going fast - slow - fast - slow," Lagat said.

"But my experience helped me to keep with the rest and the medal is a great result for me. I'm happy with my performance in my fifth appearance at the championships.

"I can tell you I gave 110 percent today and all these guys were running so well.

"It's a big challenge running against these guys who are maybe 20 years younger than me, but age does not matter."

Briton Andrew Vernon took up the early running in the longest race of the world indoors, comprising 15 laps of the blue 200-metre track at Sopot's Ergo Arena.

Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet, the world 5000m silver medallist and the fastest man in the discipline this season, soon took over with Kenyan Augustine Kiprono Choge on his shoulder.

Choge upped the pace, taking the Ethiopian and New Zealander Zane Robertson with him, Lagat and Ndiku happy to sit in the middle of the chasing pack.

At the halfway stage, Gebrhiwet again speeded up, stringing the pack out, Ndiku also moving through the field to push the pace.

With two laps left, Ndiku put in another spurt and Lagat came wide past the two Ethiopians.

At the bell, Ndiku still held the lead, anticipating Lagat's trademark kick.

The American pushed, but it was obvious he did not have enough in his legs to make it past the towering Kenyan.

Ndiku clocked 7min 54.94sec for gold, holding off Lagat who took silver in 7:55.22, with a second Ethiopian, Dejen Gebremeskel, claiming bronze (7:55.39).

"This medal is a good thing for me because since my medal at the world juniors three years ago, I haven't won a medal," Ndiku said.

"I knew that Lagat and Gebremeskel were good, but I also knew that I was fast in the last lap.

"So I had to wait and see, I did not want to waste my energy."

Lagat's teammate Galen Rupp, the training partner of absent Briton Mo Farah, finished in fourth ahead of Gebrhiwet.

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