by Phil Minshull
VALENCIA, Spain, Feb 9, 2008 (AFP) - Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele believes that his attempt to add to his mutitiude of world records and break the indoor 3,000m mark was bizarrely sabotaged by wind inside the arena here on Saturday.
Bekele ran seven minutes 36.08 seconds, more than 11 seconds outside his target of the 10-year-old mark of 7:24.90 set by Kenya’s Daniel Komen.
``The weather conditions were very difficult. It was windy. I could feel it while running on one side of the track. Maybe there was a window open?’’ he said.
Bekele’s feeling that the venue which will stage next month’s World Indoor Championships was actually open to the chilly evening elements was confirmed by several other runners in the race including Kenya’s Timothy Kiptanui.
``I’ve occasionally felt it before in other indoor races but it made things very difficult,’’ added Kiptanui, who was the pacemaker for Bekele in the middles stages of the race.
Bekele was over two seconds outside Komen’s world record pace at 2km and, at the front with three other runners still on his tail, stepped off the accelator for several laps before sprinting away from his rivals with just over 200m to go.
He has yet to make a decision about whether he will return to Valencia to compete in the World Indoor Championships.
``I’ll do it next week after I have run over two miles in Birmingham (on February 16),’’ he added, looking ahead to another tilt at a world record.
However, if Bekele’s world record hopes were curiously blown away, it was still Ethiopia’s day in Spain’s third city.
Mekonen Gebremedhin went virtually unnoticed at last summer’s World Championships, when Bekele won the 10,000m gold medal, after he failed to progress beyond the semi-finals of the 1,500m.
However, the 19-year-old has improved immeasurably over the winter and produced the fastest time in the world this year in the blue riband distance with a run of 3:36.63.
Gebremedhin run was one of three performances which topped the 2008 lists.
Nigerian sprinter Olusoji Fasuba, the 2007 African Games winner over 100m last summer, sped to the world’s fastest time of the year in the indoor discipline of 60m.
Fasuba turned on the power over the second half of the race to stop the clock at a swift 6.50 seconds.
Panama’s Irving Saladino leapt out 8.20m in the men’s long jump, another best performance in the world this year and the reigning world outdoor champion had three other jumps over the bench mark of eight metres.
Like Saladino, Portugal’s Naide Gomes is a very good bet for a long jump medal at the World Indoor Championships and the 2007 European indoor champion added a centimetre to her national record with 6.90m jump.
The mark was the second best in the world this year.
``The run up is very fast. I think there will be some very good jumping at the World Indoors,’’ said Gomes.
Ethiopia’s Meselech Melkamu added to the plethora of outstanding performances when she won the women’s 3,000m in 8:29.48, the second fastest time in the world this year.