Irish 1,500m champion Alistair Cragg finishing eighth in a high quality 3,000m last night at the Golden League Van Damme Memorial meet in Brussels.

The 24-year-old was just four-tenths of a second outside his personal best, as he clocked 7:38.96, finishing once more as the leading European in a race dominated by Africans.

Kenyan youngster Eliud Kipchoge, the 2003 World 5,000m champion, won in 7:27.72.

The race been initially set up for double Olympic champion Hicham El Guerrouj to have a crack at Kenyan Daniel Komen's seven-year-old world record (7:20.67).  But the mercurial Moroccan failed to start, due to a leg injury.

Dutch runnerGert-Jan Liefers took the field through 1000 and 2000 metres (4:59.08), with Cragg well-placed throughout.

The Johannesburg-born star lost crucial ground Kipchoge and a leading group of four other Kenyans in the final 800, but claimed some notable scalps at the finish, including 2002 world junior champion Hilary Chenonge, who finished 13th.

The Belgian meeting also saw the world premiere of the new 'Luminus-running light', which operates as an electronic pacesetter. 80 posts equipped with a flash bulb and a white light determine the fixed pace for a long-distance race, and it is intended to lead the athlete to a new world record.

There was one world record broken, but not on the track. Russian Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva defeated her Athens best of 4.91m by one centimetre to the delight of the Stade Roi Baudouin crowd.

Filed by James Boylan