Ex-Husky Belz Sets National Record at World Championships

Aug. 8, 2005

HELSINKI, Finland - Former Husky distance runner Christian Belz placed 14th Monday in the finals of the 10,000 meters at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships in Helsinki, Finland, breaking his own Swiss national record by one second. Belz is one of three former Huskies competing at the World Championships, which continue through Sunday at Helsinki's Olympic Stadium.

Competing at 10,000 meters for just the second time in his professional career, Belz clocked a time of 27 minutes, 53.16 seconds Monday, just below the record of 27:54.11 he set in his 10,000-meter debut at Stanford in May. Prior to 2005, Switzerland's national record in the 10,000 meters had stood at 27:54.29 for almost 20 years, since Markus Ryffel first established the benchmark in 1986.

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist at 10,000 meters, defended his 2003 world championship in the event, leading nine African finishers across the line in 27:08.33.

'It was a really tough race, because there were so many Africans and only two Europeans,' Belz said following the race. 'My goal was to just hang in and stay with the pack, and try to break my record.'

A 1999 UW graduate, Belz also owns Switzerland's national record in the steeplechase, and has represented the Swiss in each of the past two Olympic Games. He has appeared at each of the past four World Championships, competing in the steeplechase in 1999 and 2001, and in the 5,000 meters in 2003. Monday's finish was Belz' third among the top-15 in World Championships competition.

Having broken national records in each of his first two races at 10,000 meters, the 30-year-old Belz plans to focus on the longer distance in 2006.

'I'm currently ranked number three in Europe at 10,000 meters, so I'm definitely going to continue running at this distance and try to earn a medal at the European Championships next year,' Belz said Monday. 'I'll still do the 5,000 at major championships, but I think the 10,000 meters gives me a better chance to move forward in my career.'

Reigning United States pole vault champion Brad Walker is the Huskies' lone remaining competitor in Helsinki. The fifth-ranked vaulter in the world, Walker will open his competition in qualifying rounds Tuesday, with the pole vault final scheduled for Thursday.

For complete results and event schedules from the 2005 IAAF World Track and Field Championships, visit www.iaaf.org.