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Bernard Lagat

11 February 2010

TWO-time Olympic medallist and 2007 double World Champion  Bernard Lagat returns to the Birmingham NIA with his sights set on a winning performance over 1500m at the Aviva Grand Prix on Saturday 20 February.

The American has already enjoyed a terrific start to the year, winning the Wanamaker Mile in New York for an historic eighth time last month. He followed that up a week later with a new US national record over 5,000m in Boston.

Last year Lagat finished second at the Aviva Grand Prix behind Kenya’s Augustine Choge, and this time around he’s aiming for the top spot.

Lagat said:  “This year is going really well and I’m feeling in great shape, so I definitely want to continue that form in Birmingham. I’m racing over 1500m and I’m looking forward to running again with Augustine Choge which is always tough!  I know the competition will be a good one, that’s great, I like it like that”.

Lagat won 1500m bronze and 5000m silver at the World Championships last summer, two years after picking up double gold in those events in Osaka.  Add to that a host of global medals including World Indoor 1500m gold won at the Birmingham NIA in 2003, and it’s no surprise he’s out to impress at the same venue this weekend.

“I’ve raced in Birmingham a number of times before and set a new US record over 3000m there two years ago, so I know what to expect and I know I can perform well there.”

Indeed with the World Indoor Championships in Doha just three weeks after the Aviva Grand Prix, and the US team Trials in Albuquerque the week after the UKA meet, the 35-year-old shows no sign of slowing down as he looks to finalise his preparations for further global success.

“This year the World Indoor championships in Doha are just around the corner.  They are high on the agenda.  I’m planning to be running 3000m there so this 1500m is a really important part of my preparations.  Presuming I qualify for the team I’ll be going there to win; I’m in good shape and good form and am confident in my abilities.  Yes I got two medals last year in Berlin but I’m disappointed not to have won.”

New Zealander Nick Willis, Olympic Silver Medallist and the current world’s fastest miler, will also be competing in the 1500m and is sure to prove stiff competition for Lagat.

A unique concept will kick-start the action at the National Indoor Arena for the Aviva Grand Prix this year, when BMX riders and inline skaters take on British High Jumpers in an Extreme High Jump exhibition.  At 12.30 spectators can witness for the first time the meeting of polar opposites traditional athletics and extreme sports; this short event promises to push the boundaries of the High Jump as the rules are swapped for tricks and stunts.

Tickets for the Aviva Grand Prix at the National Indoor Arena, Birmingham on Saturday 20th February are available by phone on 08000 556 056 or online at www.uka.org.uk