By Barbara Sampson, World-Track
PARIS — Reigning world 1500m and 5000m champion Bernard Lagat admits to making a mistake during his 3000m clash with Kenenisa Bekele when he backed off in the early stages and was thoroughly routed at the AF Golden League meeting in Paris.
The Kenyan-born American Lagat was anticipating a good match up with the former world indoor champion, especially after running a personal best.
However, his seven-minutes and 33.15 seconds life-time best effort for second place on a very cool Friday evening, was miles behind Bekele’s world-leading 7:28.64 winning performance.
"He (Bekele) ran a very smart race today, he knew what he wanted to do, and it worked for him," Lagat told reporters after the race.
"I knew he was gone with it (the win) when it was three laps to go. I tried my best. I push and push, but I am running with Bekele, he is a great champion."
Lagat, who said he was in good shape, also confessed that the Ethiopian Olympic 10,000m and 5000m double champion was unmatched in the Stade de France.
"Bekele is a tough competitor, everyone knows when you line up against him you better be ready to run," he said. "[But] he did a very good job to drop me like that.
"I was running very hard, but he just kept opening the gap."
Lagat added that it was "disappointing to lose the race," but "losing to Bekele today (Friday) doesn’t make me feel too bad….he is just a great champion.”
After winning the 1500m and 5000m at the American trials last season, Lagat failed to impress in Beijing – finishing sixth in the semi-finals of the 1500m and ninth in the 5000m and wants to make up for those disappoints in Berlin.
He officially made the switch from representing Kenya to becoming an American citizen in 2005.
Photo: Track and Field Photo Magazine