Kenyan contingent captures two major wins.
On the penultimate day of competition in Berlin, it was a day for the distance runners and sprint relays to shine at the world track and field championships. Some of the most anticipated finals, including the men’s marathon and women’s 5000m, found Kenya on top of the distance running pyramid.
The day kicked off with the men’s marathon, an anticipated match-up between many of the top African nations. It was around 20k that the contenders began to materialize and we had a good idea of who may be there in the end. Most notably in the break were Kenyan hopefuls Abel Kirui and Emmanuel Mutai, Ethiopians Deriba Merga and Tsegay Kebede and Marilson dos Santos of Brasil.
The group passed through the half marathon point in 1:03:03, the fastest in world championship history. It became clear around 35k that it was the Kenyans that had all the control of the race as Merga, Ethiopia’s top entry, faltered and it was between Kirui and Mutai for the championship. Kirui added to his win in Vienna last year, as he pulled away from Mutai to claim his first world championship in 2:06:54, a championship record. Mutai finished with a silver medal effort of 2:07:48, also breaking the previous championships record. Kebede would pass Merga, who would not finish, and take home the bronze in 2:08:42. The top American finisher was Dan Browne, who would cross the line in 2:16:49, good for 24th place. Other American finishers included Matt Gabrielson (2:18:41) in 36th place and Nate Jenkins (2:32:16) in 63rd place.
Kenyan dominance would continue in the women’s 5000m. Defending champion Meseret Defar of Ehiopia looked poised to take down another world championship, but a Kenyan duo would spoil her party. Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya did much of the pacemaking along with teammate Sylvia Kibet. Defar looked to use her patented kick to take down the Kenyan duo over the last lap, but as in the 10,000m it was not enough. Down the final straightaway Cheruiyot passed Defar to take her first world title in 14:57.97. Kibet kicked past Defar in the last few meters to take second in 14:58.33 to Defar’s 14:58.41. Just as in the 5000m, Defar looked like she gave up over the final meters allowing Kibet to take the silver, at least this time she was able to secure a medal. American Jen Rhines ran a strong race to finish 9th in a time of 15:11.63.
The other finals of the day were the men’s and women’s 4X100m relays. As in the Olympics, both American teams would be non-factors, as the men’s and women’s teams were disqualified in earlier rounds due to their inability to get the baton from one athlete to another. The men’s race would be taken down by Jamaica in a championship record time of 37.31, the third gold medal of the meet for Usain Bolt. The Jamaican women had similar success, as they were able to outdistance their closest competitors to take the win in 42.06.
Elsewhere, the men’s long jump was won by the now three-time world champion Dwight Phillips of the United States with a mark of 8.54m. In the men’s pole vault it was a resilient Steve Hooker of Australia, who cleared just one height, 5.90m, to take the win despite being injured. The women’s hammer throw was won by Poland’s Anita Wlodarczyk with a new world record throw of 77.96m.