By Larry Fine
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.
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.”
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