Masai Breaks Ethiopian Streak in 10,000 Meters
Kenyan’s kick yields world title; Yoder Begley 6th in a
By Parker Morse, Running USA wire
BERLIN – (August 15, 2009) – Linet Masai of Kenya won
the women’s 10,000 meter final in 30:51.24 on Saturday evening at the 12th
IAAF World Track & Field Championships, becoming the first non-Ethiopian
winner of that event at a global championship since 1997 and the first Kenyan
female medalist since Tegla Loroupe in 1999.
Masai, 19, had foreshadowed her victory with a 5000m triumph
over defending World and Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba this May in New
York. With Dibaba not starting here in Berlin due to an injury, a new world
champion was inevitable, but Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar, herself the
defending 5000m champion, looked ready to take over Dibaba’s crown.
The early pace was pedestrian (for elites), however, as
Mariya Konovalova of Russia was pushed to the front and nobody else
appeared willing to be the sacrifice in the front.
After 7000m of solid 31:30-pace, however, Masai and her
teammate Grace Momanyi burst to the front, and Defar, countrywomen
Meselech Melkamu and Wude Ayalew followed. Masai and Momanyi
pulled the pack of five Africans away from the rest of the race, cutting out
anyone else who might contend for medals, and then turned to the problem of the
Defar finally made her move, normally a rapier-sharp sprint
for the finish that leaves all others behind, with 300 meters remaining. New to
the 25-lap distance, however, Defar’s sprint was far from sharp, and despite
close passes of some lapped runners Defar was unable to shake the Kenyan shadow
on her shoulder. The three Ethiopians finally looked to be pulling clear on the
homestretch, but Masai swung wide into lane four and first ran down Ayalew, then
an abruptly struggling Defar, and finally Melkamu at the line for her victory.
Ayalew earned the bronze medal, while Defar faded to fifth.
“I’m so grateful for the win,” said Masai who was fourth in
the Beijing Olympics 10,000. “I didn’t give up.”
“I was expecting [Defar] to win,” said Melkamu. “I never saw
Behind the African pack, American and 2009 national champion
Amy Yoder Begley produced her second championship PR this season when the
2008 Olympian ran 31:13.78 to finish 6th.
Beijing Olympic bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan, who
had joined Begley in the chase pack when the Kenyans broke away, wound up 14th
in 31:32.19. Katie McGregor was among the first runners dropped by the
pack, and finished 17th in 32:18.49.
Earlier in the day, all four American 1500m men (including
defending 1500m / 5000m champion Bernard Lagat) advanced to the
semifinals in their event, each advancing from a different heat. Of the three
women in the 3000m steeplechase, only U.S. record holder Jenny Barringer
advanced out of the rounds, taking third in her heat with a 9:26.81.
Saturday was the first day of competition at the 12th IAAF
World Championships, held at Berlin’s Olympiastadion, site of the 1936
Olympics. The World Championships will continue through Sunday, August
IAAF Track & Field World
Championships: Women’s 10,000 Meters
Berlin, GER, Saturday August 15,
1) Linet Masai (KEN), 30:51.24, Gold
2) Meselech Melkamu
(ETH), 30:51.34, Silver
3) Wude Ayalew (ETH), 30:51.95, Bronze
Momanyi (KEN), 30:52.25
5) Meseret Defar (ETH), 30:52.37
6) Amy Yoder
Begley (USA), 31:13.78
7) Yurika Nakamura (JPN), 31:14.39
8) Kim Smith
9) Kayoko Fukushi (JPN), 31:23.49
10) In̻s Monteiro (POR),
14) Shalane Flanagan (USA), 31:32.19
Katie McGregor (USA), 32:18.49
WC results, photos, schedule and more at: http://berlin.iaaf.org/index.html