Kenyan Daniel Komen shattered the world record in the 5,000 meters and countryman Paul Tergat smashed the 10,000-meter mark at the Van Damme Memorial meet Friday, each erasing a mark held by Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie.
Komen was timed in a sensational 12 minutes, 39.74 seconds, bettering Gebrselassie’s record of 12:41.86 set 10 days ago at Zurich, and Tergat was clocked in a sizzling 26:27.85, chopping 3.47 seconds off the mark set by Gebrselassie last month at Oslo.
It’s the fifth time in 10 days a middle or long distance record was broken.
Komen, perfectly paced for the first 3,000 meters, ran the final 2,000 meters on his own, but was able to keep up the crackling pace.
The 21-year-old also holds world records for 3,000 meters and 2 miles. It was the second time this year he took a world record from Gebrselassie. Last month, it was the 2-mile mark.
Friday’s record run avenged a bitter loss to Gebrselassie last week when the Ethiopian profited from Komen’s pacesetting and lowered the 5,000 mark during a stirring head-to-head battle.
This time, without a challenger, Komen had to drive himself over the final five laps. But cheered on by the capacity crowd of approximately 40,000 and an African drum band at the King Baudouin stadium, he was not to be denied.
“I just knew I was going to break that world record,” Komen said.
Tergat, paced for 8,000 meters by compatriot Paul Koech, also avenged a recent loss to Gebrselassie, when he finished second to him at the World Championships in Athens.
“I had no doubt,” Tergat said. “I was ready for any sort of pace.”
Namibia’s Frankie Fredericks won the men’s 100 in 9.90, beating world champion Maurice Greene by only .02 seconds for his third victory in the Golden Four series..
Jearl Miles-Clark set a U.S. record of 1:56.78 in placing third in the women’s 800 meters, beating the 12-year-old mark of Mary Slaney by .12 seconds.
Mozambique’s Maria Mutola and world champion Ana Quirot of Cuba were 1-2 ahead of Miles-Clark.