TP #747-In Quest for Olympic Double Gold, Lagat , by Bob Ramsak

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Think about that, El Guerrouj winning the 5,000 meters and the 1,500 meters in Athens, after coming oh so close in Paris in 2003.
Well, Bernard Lagat did it in 2007 in Osaka and none other than the El G himself think Lagat is a great bet to double in Beijing! Read on, dear readers...

TRACK PROFILE Report #747
18-Apr-2008

IN QUEST FOR DOUBLE OLYMPIC GOLD, LAGAT HAS EL GUERROUJ ON HIS SIDE

By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2008 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved

As he sets out on his quest for double Olympic gold this summer, Bernard Lagat will have plenty of supporters. Among them is the man whose achievement he’ll be hoping to emulate in Beijing: world record holder and reigning double Olympic champion Hicham El Guerrouj.

“Bernard proved in Osaka, thanks to determination and passion, that he can do it,” El Guerrouj, the finest middle distance runner of his generation, said of his long-time rival, last fall.

In August, the Kenyan-born American became the first man in history to win the 1500m/5000m double at the same World Championships. In Beijing, he’ll be aiming to follow El Guerrouj and the legendary Paavo Nurmi, who took the same double in 1924, into the history books.

“Before, his problem was that he didn’t believe it, but now he thinks he can,” El Guerrouj continued. “The door is open.”

Among a small handful of races prior to the U.S. Olympic Trials in late June will be an outing in the 1500m at the adidas Track Classic, in Carson, Calif., on May 18. Lagat already has Olympic bronze and silver over this distance in his collection from 2000 an 2004, respectively, on both occasions crossing the line behind El Guerrouj.

While their on-track rivalry ended on the track in Athens, and for good with El Guerrouj’s retirement in 2006, The Moroccan suggested that his departure from the scene doesn’t make things any easier for Lagat, history’s second fastest 1500m runner and the U.S. record holder.

“My retiring liberated him, but maybe also put extra pressure on him,” El Guerrouj said. “I don’t have any advice really, just to remain calm and stay strong mentally. The Olympics are so stressful that sometimes it can backfire, but Lagat has all the qualities to do it.”

Lagat is also expected to contest the 5000m at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational at Stanford on May 4, prior to the trials, which begin on June 27 with the first round of the 5000m.

In 2006, Lagat won both the 1500m and 5000m at the U.S. Championships, a first. Last year he defended his 5000m title and was third in the 1500m.

STUCZYNSKI, RAWLINSON ANNOUNCED AS WELL

Organizers of the Carson meet also announced the return of Jenn Stuczynski, who last year eclipsed Stacy Dragila as the U.S. record holder in the pole vault. The 26-year-old leaped 4.84m/15-10 ½ at the meet, and went on to improve the record to 4.88m/16-0, to become the first American woman over the 16-foot mark. The performance elevated Stuczynski to No. 2 all-time; only world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva has jumped higher. Injury cut her competition short at last summer's World Championships, but more recently took the silver medal at the World Indoor Championship with a 4.75m/15-7 leap, an indoor career best.

Also added to the line up is Australian Jana Rawlinson who last summer regained the world title in the 400m hurdles just eight months after giving birth to her first child.

100/200m world champion Tyson Gay, world and Olympic 400m champion jeremy Wariner, and 200m world champion Allyson Felix, were previously announced.

The adidas Track Classic is the second stop of USA Track & Field’s Visa Championship Series. The meet will be broadcast on ESPN on May 18, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. eastern time.

ENDS

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The TRACK PROFILE REPORT is a news and feature service published by the Track Profile News Service. In addition to regularly dispatched news, profile and interview features, subscribers also receive exclusive on-site updates from major national and international competitions, usually within 24 hours. Copyright (c) 2008 by Bob Ramsak and TRACK PROFILE. All rights reserved. Reproduction, republication, reposting and retransmission in ANY form is strictly prohibited without express permission from the editor. Small portions may be reproduced ONLY if accompanied by source citation and *ADVANCE* notice in writing to Track Profile. Please contact the editor at [email protected] for reprint permission. [ Visit www.trackprofile.com for more. ]

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END – TPR #747 - 18-Apr-2008

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