Day one of competition in Berlin was highlighted by a stellar battle between Kenya and Ethiopia in the women’s 10,000m.
The first day of competition in the 2009 IAAF world track and field championships in Berlin saw just a single track final, but it was a thrilling one. The women’s 10,000m would prove to be a fantastic race between the two East African powerhouses in women’s distance running, Kenya and Ethiopia.
The women’s 10,000m final was a fairly slow affair through the first 7K, as no one seemed interested in doing the work up front. With eight laps to go a group of five women from Kenya and Ethiopia moved their way through the field and made their presence known at the front. By the time they came around for the next lap Kenyans Linet Masai and Grace Momanyi, along with Ethiopians Meseret Defar, Meselech Melkamu and Wude Ayalew, had a sizeable lead over the chase pack. The Kenyan women looked like they wanted to dictate the pace as Masai and Momanyi traded off the lead over the next six laps. With one lap to goan all-out war broke out among the five women from the Rift Valley, nearly all of whom had the lead at some point. With 100m to go former 5000m champion Meseret Defar was leading, followed closely by teammate Melkamu and Masai of Kenya. Melkamu passed Defar, as did Masai, with about 20 meters to go and Masai was able to dig a bit deeper and edge out Melkamu for the win, 30:51.24 to 30:51.34. Defar looked as though she simply gave up with fewer than 10 meters to go and was actually passed by Kenyan Momanyi and Ethiopian Ayalew, who would take home the bronze in 30:51.95.
American women in the race ran well, albeit in the second pack of the race. US champion Amy Yoder-Begley was able to outdistance her fellow chasers and pick up a very impressive sixth place, setting a new personal best of 31:13.78. Fellow American Shalane Flannagan, the Olympic bronze medalist, finished 14th in 31:32.19 and Katie McGregor rounded out the Americans with a 17th-place finish in 32:18.49.
American Wins Shot Put
The only other final on the day was the men’s shot put, which is always a fan favorite, and an event full of American potential. In round five American Christian Cantwell stepped into the circle and delivered the only throw of the competition over 22m, tossing his put out to 22.03m and taking the gold medal. Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland took home the silver and hometown favorite Ralph Bartels of Germany claimed bronze.
All other events on the track were qualification rounds, including the men’s 1500m. All of the major contenders advanced, as did all four Americans (defending world champion Bernard Lagat, 2008 Olympians Lopez Lomong and Leonel Manzano, and newcomer Dorian Ulrey). The five fastest times of the day came in the final section, which was one by Deresse Mekonnen of Ethiopia in 3:37.04.
Top Men Advance In 100m
The opening heats of the men’s 100m also found all major contenders making it easily through the opening rounds. Americans Tyson Gay, Darvis Patton, Mike Rodgers and Monzavous Edwards breezed through to the semifinals tomorrow night. As usual, Usain Bolt of Jamaica showed his lighthearted side as he and Daniel Bailey of Antigua were laughing with each other as they crossed the line in their quarterfinal heat. Bolt, Gay, Bailey, Rodgers, and Jamaican Asafa Powell all looked to be in top form in the early rounds.
Other key American contenders continuing on in their respective events included Sanya Richards, who easily qualified in the women’s 400m and Jenny Barringer, who gave US fans a scare, but ended up qualifying for the final in the women’s 3000m steeplechase.