March 2004 – On the final day of the IAAF World Indoor Championships in
Budapest four more running events were on the schedule – and all of them
had African winners. It was South Africa’s Mbulaeni Mulaudzi who won the
800 metres in 1:45,71 minutes. In race without any European or American runner
(last year’s World Champion David Krummenacker was absent – Rashid
Ramzi of Burundi took second place in 1:46,15. Brazilian’s Osmar Barbosa
dos Santos was third in 1:46,26.
For dos Santos it was a reward in the end as he had run from the front and
made it a fast race. In 50,74 seconds the Brazilian had passed 400 metres. And
it was only during the last 200 metres that Mulaudzi forced the pace. The South
African had won the 800 metres in the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and was third
in last year’s IAAF World Championships in Paris. Between 650 and 750
metres he took over at front and managed to get a lead of about two metres. He
then hold on to it. “I had not specially prepared myself for indoor
racing. This was my first indoor start this season – and will be the only
one. Normally I don’t run well indoors because I can not find a
rhythm”, the 23 year-old South African said. “I fought for Gold but
ended up with a Bronze. Still I am happy about it”, dos Santos said.
The 1,500 metre final ended with a triumph for Kenya. Paul Korir was the
winner of a slow tactical race in 3:52,31 minutes. The bronze medal went to
Laban Rotich, another Kenyan (3:52,93). In between the two countrymen Ivan
Heshko (Ukraine) won the silver medal in 3:52,34 minutes. It was after a very
slow opening that the two Kenyans stepped up the pace around the 500 metre
mark. But still it was not getting really fast. This played into the hands of
Heshko and Britain’s Michael East, who both have a strong finish. Heshko
was coming out of the final curve strong and nearly caught Korir on the line.
Behind the two there was a curious fight for the bronze medial between East and
Rotich. Realising that the Kenyan was going to overtake him the Britain crossed
lanes to cut into Rotich’s way. Ending up in lane five (!) East did cross
as the third runner, but was later disqualified for obstructing the Kenyan.
“Time does not count here. I am simply happy to have won. I did not
realise anything about the pushing in the field”, Korir said. The 26
year-old Kenyan had been fourth in last year’s IAAF World Championships
Finally there was a medal for a British middle distance runner. While Kelly
Holmes had lost all her golden chances the day before, when she fell during the
1,500 metres final, it was Joanne Fenn who won a bronze medal in the 800 metre
final. The former country singer clocked 1:59,50 minutes which is a national
record as well. But of course there was no chance for her to fight for more. It
was the expected showdown between Maria Mutola (Mozambique) and Jolanda Ceplak
(Slovenia). In the end once again the Olympic Champion had the advantage.
Mutola clocked 1:58,50 minutes to take the gold medal. Ceplak ran 1:58,72.
Later on Ceplak accused Mutola of having pushed her. But Mutola claimed that it
was just a normal contact during the race when the two were close together.
It was Spain’s Marta Dominguez who lead the 3,000 metre women’s
final for quite some time. But it was the same as it had been with the
men’s race – a slow tactical race. In the end Dominguez had to be
content with fourth place in 9:12,85 minutes. It was an American that denied
her the bronze medal: Shayne Culpepper surprised with her third place in
9:12,15 minutes. She is the wife of Alan Culpepper, a familiar name in American
long distance running. The fight for the gold medal had looked more like a
middle distance affair than a long distance race. Almost next to each other the
two Ethiopians Meseret Defar and defending champion Berhane Adere came on the
home straight. In the end it was the 20 year-old Defar who won the race in
9:11,22. It was her first senior world title, but she is the IAAF World Junior
Champion from 2002 at 3,000 and 5,000 metre. Adere finished in 9:11,22