Aug. 28, 2003
ST. DENIS, France - Former Washington All-American Christian Belz, running for his native Switzerland, ran seventh Thursday in the second of two preliminary heats of the men's 5,000-meter run at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships at the Stade de France in the Paris suburb of St. Denis.
Belz' effort earned him one of 15 spots in Sunday's final, which will crown the 2003 world champion. The final, scheduled for 6:40 p.m. Sunday in Paris (9:40 am in Seattle), can be seen on ABC Sports and on CBC Sports on a tape delay basis.
The Swiss national record holder in both the 3,000-meter steeplechase (8:28.72, 2002) and 5,000 meters (13:12.16, 2003) found success Thursday with the same aggressive tactics that earned him an 18th-place finish at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships earlier this spring.
In a heat which included Kenyans Abraham Chebii and Richard Limo, as well as 1,500-meter world champion Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, Belz proved unafraid to challenge the world's elite runners, taking the lead roughly five minutes into the race and staying with the lead pack until the final 200 meters.
Belz' time of 13 minutes, 36.64 seconds was four second behind heat winner Gebre-egziabher Gebremariam of Ethiopia, and was the seventh-fastest time of either heat.
Belz will be making his second appearance in the finals at the World Championships, having placed 13th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 2001 in Edmonton.
For more on the IAAF World Track & Field Championships, please visit www.iaaf.org.
Pacific Northwest Track and Field correspondent Paul Merca contributed to this report.