| Allen Johnson of the US celebrates his 110m hurdles win at the Rome Golden League on Friday. (Reuters)
Rome, July 12 (Reuters): Olympic 10,000m champion Haile Gebrselassie suffered another setback to his preparations for next month’s world championships with defeat in Rome Friday.
The Ethiopian, who missed last year’s outdoor season through injury, finished third in the 5,000m behind Kenya’s Abraham Chebii, who also beat him in Paris earlier this month.
While Gebrselassie appeared a shadow of his former self, Morocco’s triple 1,500m world champion Hicham El Guerrouj produced a highly impressive performance to set the world’s best time this year at the distance.
American John Capel was a surprise winner of the men’s 100m, ahead of com patriots Bernard Williams and Maurice Greene. Chandra Sturrup of the Bahamas stayed on course for a share of the Golden League jackpot with victory in the women’s 100.
Gebrselassie again found Chebii and his fellow-Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele too good when the race got serious. The 30-year-old began his charge 600m from the finish, but he was overhauled as Chebii found the better sprint to win in 12 minutes 57.14 seconds. Bekele clocked 12:57.34 with Gebrselassie third in 13:00.32.
El Guerrouj’s time of 3:29.76 in romping to victory in the 1500 sent out a warning to the pretenders to his world title, especially as the race was his first over the distance this season.
Olympic and world 100m champion Greene suffered the latest in a series of defeats. The former world record-holder broke well but couldn’t pull away from Capel, who won in 10.04, just ahead of US champion Williams who clocked 10.06.
Greene’s time of 10.09 was the same as that given to fourth-placed Briton Dwain Chambers.
Greene has yet to run into top form this season, as he builds up to defending his world title in Paris next month.
“I feel really excited. The fact I beat Maurice Greene, Dwain Chambers and the best in the world tonight gives me a boost for the rest of the season,” Capel said. Williams later ran 20.01 to win the 200m, the fastest time in the world this year.
Sturrup, with wins under her belt at Golden League meetings in Oslo and Paris, streaked out of the blocks to clock 10.89 — the fastest in the world this year — and push America’s Kelli White into second place.
“I didn’t expect to run 10.89. I can now just concentrate on running better races and faster races. I know that now the Golden League jackpot is not just a dream,” Sturrup said.
Mozambique’s Maria Mutola, along with Sturrup, is the only remaining contender for a share of $1 million jackpot, split between competitors who win their events at all six Golden League meetings.
World and Olympic champion Mutola confirmed her current supremacy in the women’s 800m, overhauling Slovenia’s Jolanda Ceplak in the home straight to win in 1:57.21.
In other events, Russia’s Olga Yegorova recorded the fastest 1,500m time in the world this year (4:01.00), while men’s 400m world indoor champion Tyree Washington clocked 44.42 to beat fellow-American Jerome Young.