January 29, 2011 / 9:33 AM / 8 years ago

Mekonnen ends Lagat's Millrose reign in mile

NEW YORK (Reuters) - World indoor 1,500 metres champion Deresse Mekonnen of Ethiopia ended American Bernard Lagat’s Wanamaker Mile winning streak at six on Friday in the 104th Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden.

Deresse Mekonnen from Ethiopia blows a kiss to the crowd after winning the Wanamaker Mile at the 104th Millrose Games at Madison Square Garden in New York, January 28, 2011. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Mekonnen, 23, charged past the 36-year-old Lagat with four laps to go and held off three challenges from him to win with a time of three minutes 58.58 seconds.

Lagat, who last year thrilled the Garden crowd by registering a record-breaking eighth New York mile title to eclipse Ireland’s Eamonn Coghlan, clocked 3:59.01 for a rare runner-up finish on the cramped, high-banked track.

“I ran much better than I expected,” Mekonnen said through an interpreter. “I have not competed for about six months due to a (stomach) illness.

“It took a lot to become first. I expected Lagat to win.”

Lagat said there was no shame in losing to Mekonnen, winner of the last two world indoor 1,500 titles and world silver medalist over 1,500 outdoors.

“I gave him three tries but he held his position really good,” the Kenyan-born Lagat said. “I tried my best but I lost to a great athlete. There is no shame in that.”

‘MORAL VICTORY’

Jamaicans Veronica Campbell-Brown and Nesta Carter won the sprints but U.S. sprinters claimed victory on points in the U.S.-Jamaica challenge that featured runners from the two sprint powers.

World indoor champion and two-time Olympic gold medal winner Campbell-Brown won the women’s 60 meters in 7.11 seconds with Americans Lauryn Williams and Lisa Barber following in 7.22 and 7.23.

Carter won the men’s 60 in 6.52 with Mike Rodgers (6.56) and Trell Kimmons (6.57) second and third in a six-man field.

The four podium finishes lifted the U.S. sprinters to first place in the competition against the Jamaicans that is being showcased during the U.S. indoor season.

“We didn’t win either race but we got a moral victory,” said Rodgers.

Vonette Dixon of Jamaica took honors in the women’s 60 metres hurdles with a time of 8.00 seconds to edge American Danielle Carruthers (8.03) and Canadian Perdita Felicien (8.05).

World indoor champion Brazilian Fabiana Murer won the women’s pole vault by clearing 4.74 m, relegating American Jenn Suhr to second place (4.64).

Ashton Eaton served notice that Americans might challenge for a decathlon medals sweep at this year’s world championships in South Korea by winning a three-event challenge against compatriots Trey Hardee and Bryan Clay.

Eaton ran a personal best 7.64 seconds to win the 60 hurdles, high-jumped 2.05 metres and put the shot 14.22.

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