ROME — Said Aouita of Morocco ran the 5,000 meters in 12 minutes 58.39 seconds at the Golden Gala track and field meet Wednesday night, smashing his own world record and the 13-minute barrier for the distance.
The time bettered Aouita's record of 13:00.40 set in 1985.
"I knew I was doing well," Aouita said after the race. "But had I realized I was in such good form, I'd have tried to run in 12:50. I could have done it."
Aouita was ahead of his 1985 record from the start, generating wild enthusiasm from the crowd of 40,000 at Olympic Stadium. He was paced for the first two-thirds of the race by teammates Brahim Boutaib and Fethi Baccouche.
Boutaib, a fellow Moroccan and silver medalist at the World Junior Championships in Athens last year, stayed in front for the first half of the race.
The first kilometer in 2:35.35 and the second, in 5:13.03, were just under Aouita's time in 1985. Then Boutaib quit, and Baccouche, a Tunisian, took the lead for almost another kilometer.
It was the turning point of the race. When Baccouche stopped, Aouita was nearly five seconds under his old time. The time after 3,000 meters was 7:46.37, and Aouita was out all alone for the last 1,600 meters.
He was clocked in 10:26.05 after 4,000 kilometers and was paced to the record by thunderous applause.
Aouita, who won the 5,000 at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, said he had not yet decided what distance he would run at the World Championships, scheduled for Olympic Stadium in late August. He could enter any race from the 800 to the 10,000 meters.
The 26-year-old Moroccan's victory overwhelmed all other events in the Golden Gala.
Calvin Smith of the United States won both men's sprints--taking the 100 in 10.15 and the 200 in 20.22. Another American, Tonie Campbell, won the 110-meter hurdles in 13.31, and Robert Emmiyan of the Soviet Union took the men's long jump with a leap of 27 feet, 8 3/4 inches.
Gwen Torrence of the United States won the women's 100 meters in 11.31.
Amadou Dia Ba of Senegal won the 400-meter hurdles in 48.12, upsetting Americans Kevin Young and Danny Harris.
New Zealand's John Walker, the former world record-holder for the mile, kicked strongly to win the men's 1,500 in 3:34.79.