March 11, 2006

Defar retains 3,000 meters world indoor title

By Gennady Fyodorov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Olympic 5,000 meters gold medallist
Meseret Defar of Ethiopia retained her 3,000-metres title in a
time of eight minutes 38.80 seconds at the world indoor
championships on Saturday.

Defar pulled away on the last lap, easily outkicking world
record holder and home favorite Liliya Shobukhova.

The Russian, who set the world mark of 8:27.86 at last
month's national championships in Moscow, led for much of the
15-lap race at the Olympic sports complex but faded in the last
400 meters to finish a distant second in 8:42.18.

Poland's European indoor champion Lidia Chojecka put in a
strong finishing lap to grab bronze in 8:42.59 ahead of
Ethiopian Sentayehu Ejigu.

Russia's Olesya Syreva, who ran 8:29.00 -- the world's
second fastest time -- in Moscow last month, finished fifth,
more than 15 seconds slower than her best.

Defar took her victory in her stride.

"My form is good. My speed is natural," the slight
Ethiopian told reporters. "I've been training hard for that. I
like running indoors very much."

The Russians were using team tactics, with Syreva in the
lead and Shobukhova just behind her at the opening 1,000
meters, before the world record holder moved ahead of her team

But they had no answer to Defar's late surge.

"It's a pity that I didn't win but I did everything I
could," said a disappointed Shobukhova, adding that she felt
pressure competing on home soil.

"Certainly I was worried, this is the world championships."

Bronze medallist Chojecka said: "It's a big surprise for
me. I couldn't compete well last year because of surgery on my
foot in June and I couldn't train for four months."