Haile Gebrselassie broke the 10,000-meter world record with a time of 26 minutes, 31.32 seconds, in the Bislett Games Grand Prix track and field meet Friday.
Less than an hour after the 24-year-old Ethiopian chopped almost 7 seconds off the previous record, Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj missed the world mile mark by 51 seconds, clocking 3:44.90.
The pacemakers dropped out early in the 10,000, leaving Gebrselassie alone against the clock with 6,000 meters remaining. But the near sellout crowd of 20,000 gave him the support he needed.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “I was a little afraid when the pacemakers left after 4K. But the fans helped me. They were in front of me.
“In the last few laps I knew I would set the world record. I still had some power left in my legs at the finish line.”
Salah Hissou of Morocco set the old mark of 26:38.08 last year at Brussels.
It was the 51st world record at the stadium, and the third in the men’s 10,000 since 1993.
The 1996 Olympic champion and 1993 and 1995 world champion, Gebrselassie also set the 10,000 record of 26:43.53 in 1995 before Hissou broke it last year.
Meet director Svein Arne Hansen said the race had been planned since October 1996.
“Sprinters have dominated international track and field,” Hansen said. “At Bislett we have a tradition in middle and long distances. So we have planned this opportunity to prove that the fans love longer distances.”
Hansen said Gebrselassie would receive a $50,000 bonus for breaking the world record.
In winning the “Dream Mile,” El Guerrouj just missed Noureddine Morceli’s world record of 3:44.39 set in 1993.
Allen Johnson of the United States and Cathy Freeman of Australia clocked world seasonal bests in other events.
Running in perfect weather conditions, Johnson won the 110-meter hurdles in 13.14. The 1995 world and 1996 Olympic champion, Johnson had recorded the previous fastest time this year of 13.17 Wednesday at Lausanne, Switzerland.
“It was a good race,” Johnson said. “I’m in very good shape. After my 13.17 in Lausanne, I now have the two fastest times this year, so I’m confident that I’m getting into my best shape in time for the World Championships” at Athens, Greece, next month.
Freeman, the Olympic silver medalist, won the women’s 400 in 49.39.
“I didn’t think I was that sharp,” Freeman said.
Canada’s Donovan Bailey, the 100-meter Olympic champion and world record-holder, switched to the 200 and won in a wind-aided 20.14.
“This is not my event,” Bailey said. “I just wanted to see what I could do tonight.
“I’m sorry about the wind, but that’s one of the things you can’t do anything about. I never thought the last 80 would take so long.”
Bailey’s previous fastest time was 20.39. He said this race told him he definitely can run a sub-20.
“I think I can do that in my next 200,” he said.
In the women’s 100, Marion Jones edged fellow American Gail Devers 11.06 to 11.08 to avenge a recent defeat in Lausanne.
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