Kenya’s Moses Kiptanui got the world record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and lost another Wednesday night when Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie shattered his world mark in the 5,000 meters at the Weltklasse meet.
Olympic champion Linford Christie, shrugging off a leg injury, won the 100 meters, Michael Johnson won his 47th consecutive 400 race and Algerian Noureddine Morceli fell short in his bid to break the world mile record.
Of the two world records, Gebrselassie’s was the most remarkable.
In clocking 12 minutes, 44.39 seconds, he lowered Kiptanui’s previous mark of 12:55.30 by nearly 11 seconds.
Gebrselassie’s countryman, Worku Bikila, took him through a fast 3,400 meters before letting him run the final 1,600 meters on his own, and he was up to the task. He won by more than 17 seconds over runner-up Dieter Baumann, who set a German record of 13:01.72.
“Two months ago when Kiptanui broke my record, I was worried,” Gebrselassie said. “Today, I took my record back.”
The world record came about 90 minutes after Kiptanui had become the first man to break eight minutes for the steeplechase, clocking 7:59.18.
He had set the previous record of 8:02.08 in this meet in 1992.
It gave the 23-year-old Kenyan the four-fastest times in history. Kiptanui said he probably could have broken the world record in last week’s World Championships at Goteborg, Sweden, but coming into the final 400 meters he had such a comfortable lead that he saved his best performance for Zurich.
Again, he made it look easy in leading a sweep of the first five places by Kenyans.
Gideon Chirchir was a distant second, more than seven seconds back at 8:06.77.
“I have planned this world record since 1992,” Kiptanui said. “To be the first man under eight minutes is more important for me than winning the gold medal at the World Championships.
“I didn’t want any pacemakers because I was very confident and I don’t like to have anybody before me. It’s better to clear the hurdles as the leader.”
About losing his 5,000 record, he said, “I’ll get it back.”
Christie, 35, had injured his left leg during the 100 semifinals at the World Championships, then aggravated it while finishing sixth in the final, and was considered a doubtful starter Wednesday.
He was timed in 10.03, his season’s best, in beating world champion Donovan Bailey of Canada by nearly a meter.
Bailey finished second in 10.09, with American Jon Drummond third in 10.10.
Canada’s Bruny Surin, the world champion silver medalist, finished last in the eight-man field in 10.43, with bronze medalist Ato Boldon of Trinidad and Tobago fifth in 10.20.
Johnson, the world’s dominant long sprinter, continued his six-year winning streak in the 400, making his usual powerful move down the stretch and winning in 43.89.
Morceli, trying to crack his mile record of 3:44.39, settled for a stadium record of 3:45.19, the fastest in the world this year.
Meanwhile, unheralded American Mark Crear beat the world’s best in the 110-meter hurdles.
Crear, who failed to qualify for the U.S. team for the World Championships, ran 13.18 seconds against a field that included world champion Allen Johnson of the United States, world-record holder Colin Jackson of Britain, world silver medalist Tony Jarrett of Britain and two-time Olympic gold medalist Roger Kingdom of the United States.
Five-time world champion Sergei Bubka of Ukraine won the pole vault with a stadium record 19 feet 4 1/4 inches, beating Olympic gold medalist Maksim Tarasov of Russia on fewer misses.
Gwen Torrence, the world champion at 100 meters but disqualified for running out of her lane after finishing first in the 200, stayed in the middle of the track in winning the 200 in 21.98.