AFP - Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele etched his name in distance running history at the world athletics championships here on Monday when he won his fourth consecutive world 10,000m title.
The 27-year-old Olympic champion ran 26min 46.31sec to add Berlin gold to his previous success in Paris 2003, Helsinki 2005 and Osaka two years ago, to match compatriot Haile Gebrselassie for the most world championship titles won.
"It's great to win for the fourth time," he said. "I had already planned to stay behind until the last lap and then kick."
The victory also meant the five foot four (1.60 metres) running phenomenon from Gebrselassie's Oromia region continued his 100 percent record over the 10,000m event.
Once again the Ethiopian relied on his last-lap kick, an incredible ability to change gears when the bell sounds and destroy his rivals in 50 quick, painful metres.
Eritrea's Zersenay Tadese, who led for almost all the second-half of the 25-lap race, claimed silver in 26:50.12 with Kenyan Moses Masai of Kenya winning bronze in 26:57.39.
Qatar's Nicolas Kemboi and Kenyan Bernard Kipyego kept up the early pace of the race at the Olympic Stadium with the Ethiopians quite happy to sit in the chasing pack.
Just before the halfway stage, Tadese kicked away, with Bekele in second and compatriot Gebre-egziabher Gebremariam in third at a pace that strung the field out.
Masai took up the lead from Tadese briefly before the Eritrean again picked up a punishing pace that saw the pack begin to lap other competitors with 10 laps to go.
A lap later, and a four-runner breakaway had formed, Bekele sitting on the heels of Masai, behind Tadese, with Kenyan Michah Kogo in fourth.
With four laps remaining, the two Kenyans had fallen off Tadese's unrelenting pace and Bekele was left with a fight on his hands with his great rival from the world cross-country circuit.
Tadese's hunched running style, shoulders jerking, was at odds with Bekele's more upright stance, his body more fluid in the Eritrean's slipstream.
As the bell rang for the final lap, Bekele made his move, seemingly effortless as he ruthlessly motored past Tadese.
When he rounded the bend for the final stretch he raised his finger in the knowledge he had matched his one-time master Gebrselassie's record.
Bekele's gold here adds to an unbelievable medal haul from the Olympic Games, worlds and world cross-country championships.
He is also world record holder over both the 5000m and 10,000m, and will now move on to the 5000m in buoyant mood.