When Meseret Defar broke the World 5000m record in New York last Saturday (3 June), running 14:24.53**, she was beside herself with joy. She fell to her knees in prayer. She lay on the ground and beat the track with her fists.
“I don’t even know what I did,” she said later. “It was beyond my control.”
The Ethiopian 5000m Olympic champion came to the Reebok Grand Prix meet on Randall’s Island knowing she could seriously threaten the mark. “At the bell, I was sure I could do it,” she said. But as the clock ticked ever closer to Elvan Abeylegesse’s 2004 14:24.68 mark, Defar kept her feelings in check. “With 50m left, I was watching the clock,” she said. “After I finished, it was when the announcer said ‘world record,’ that I was at first suddenly startled, and then overjoyed.”