EUGENE, Oregon (Reuters) - Ethiopian world record holder Kenenisa Bekele tuned up for his Olympic defense by running the fourth-fastest 10,000 meters ever at the Prefontaine Classic on Sunday.
Bekele in a near-solo performance clocked a crowd-pleasing 26:25.97 in his final 10,000 meters before Beijing’s August Olympics.
“I did my best,” Bekele said. “It’s tough. I can’t push more (faster) than this time.”
Only Bekele and compatriot Haile Gebrselassie have run faster.
He was attempting to break his 2005 world record of 26:17.53 in his first outdoor U.S. appearance.
Chinese 110 meters hurdles gold medalist and world record holder Liu Xiang, however, left questions about his Beijing preparations after a false-start disqualification.
He was disqualified for a false start after moving slightly at the beginning of his race. The false start was the second of the competition, meaning his automatic disqualification.
The top Chinese hope for an athletics gold medal at the August Games had run about 10 meters when the recall gun sounded.
“My speed is so fast I did not realized I had the false start,” Liu said through a translator.
He pulled out of last week’s New York meeting with a sore right hamstring, but said it was not causing him problems.
The Olympic champion now returns home to begin preparation for the Games and the biggest race of his life.
“Of course, I will run in the Olympics,” he said. “The hamstring is not a problem.”
American Anwar Moore won the race in a wind-assisted 13.09 seconds.
U.S. world pole vault champion Brad Walker showed his pre-Olympic fitness by soaring to a national record of 6.04 meters. The mark was the best outdoor vault in seven years.
He missed twice at a world record 6.16 meters.
“Just because I did 6.04 today doesn’t mean that the (U.S.) trials will be easy,” Walker said.
The American Olympic trials begin here on June 27 with only the top three finishers making the team for Beijing.
Olympic and world silver medalist Adam Nelson offered a preview of the Americans’ strength in the shot put with the year’s best put, 22.12 meters. World champion Reese Hoffa was second at 21.73.
Ethiopian Meseret Defar won the women’s 5,000 meters in 14:38.73, and U.S. double world champion Bernard Lagat took the infrequently run two-mile in 8:12.45.
Editing by Greg Stutchbury