Champion athlete Lagat eyes triumph in Istanbul
Bernard Lagat of the United States believes the win at the Albuquerque convention center will give him good luck ahead of the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Istanbul next month.Reigning world indoor champion Bernard Lagat looks in fine shape to defend his title next month after winning the 3,000 meters at the U.S. trials in convincing style on Feb. 25.
Lagat, twice a world gold medalist at the distance, sprinted home in seven minutes, 47.54 seconds at the Albuquerque, New Mexico convention center, more than four seconds ahead of runner-up Lopez Lomong.
“I am going to defend my (world) title because I won here in 2010,” said Lagat, whose victory at Albuquerque two years ago springboard him to the world title.
“This has been a good luck place for me.”
His first world indoor title at the biennial gathering came when he represented his native Kenya in 2004 before he struck gold again six years later as an American citizen.
Lopez clocked 7:51.75 with early leader Galen Rupp third in
The top two finishers in each event qualify for the IAAF world indoor championships in Istanbul, Turkey on March 9-11.
While Albuquerque’s rarefied air had a negative impact on the distance runners, it helped hurdlers and jumpers to a pair of 2012 world leading performances.
Journeyman Dexter Faulk produced the biggest shock in the 60 meters hurdles preliminaries, where a lifetime best of 7.40 seconds usurped Chinese 2004 Olympic champion Liu Xiang’s best time of the season.
“I just came off an injury so I am just excited to be back,” Faulk said. The 27-year-old will be hoping his rich vein of form will enable him to secure a spot on his first U.S. global team at Sunday’s concluding day of the trials.
Triple jumper Will Claye provided the other top mark, leaping 17.63 meters as the world outdoor bronze medalist twice bettered his 2012 global best.
“My goal this season is to get that American indoor record,” Claye said after registering a jump 13 centimeters shorter than Mike Conley’s national mark set in 1987.
World outdoor champion Christain Taylor took second at 17.21 meters, despite fouling on four of his six jumps.
Justin Gatlin and Tianna Madison continued to make positive strides on their comebacks by dominating the sprint preliminaries.
Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic champion in the second year of his return from a four-year doping ban, led men’s 60 meters qualifying in 6.51 seconds.
The 2005 world outdoor long jump champion Madison, who has been the year’s top sprinter, clocked 7.10 seconds in the women’s race.
Olympic silver medalist Jenn Suhr defended her U.S. pole vault title, clearing 4.67 meters, with world champions Jesse Williams and Jenny Simpson also earning trips to Istanbul.
Williams won the high jump at 2.29 meters and Simpson topped the women’s 3,000 meters in 9:19.15.