Bekele Edges America’s Lagat in 5,000 for Historic Double

Bekele Edges Lagat for World 5000m Title, Historic
Bai women’s marathon world champion; Goucher,
Davila 10th and 11th; Rowbury 1500m bronze medal

By Parker Morse, Running USA wire

BERLIN – (August 23, 2009) – Xue Bai of China and
Kenenisa Bekele won World Championship titles in the women’s marathon and
men’s 5000 meters, respectively, on the last day of competition at the 12th
IAAF World Championships in Athletics

Bai’s marathon win, a first for China at the World
Championships, also led a Chinese team which won the Marathon World Cup, a
competition held concurrently with the marathon at the World Championships.
Chinese marathoners finished first, fourth and fifth for a cumulative time of

The women’s marathon, like the men’s, was run as four laps of
a 10K course around the historic landmarks of Berlin’s city center, starting and
finishing at the Brandenburg Gate under the “quadriga”, a statue of
Winged Victory in a four-horse chariot. The statue was a welcome sight for Bai,
who only took the lead for good at the 41st kilometer marker after a late-race
duel with Japan’s Yoshimi Ozaki.

Along with Ethiopia’s Aselefech Mergia, Bai and Ozaki
had been part of a breakaway lead by Russia’s Nailiya Yulamanova at the
beginning of the fourth lap. On the warm day (temperatures at the start were
reported as 19C / 66F at the start and 23C / 73F at the finish), Yulamanova fell
victim to stomach distress after a fluid station, and Mergia was dropped by Bai
and Ozaki before the pair started on the short spur around the Alexanderplatz
which gave the fourth lap the extra distance needed to reach the 42.195K / 26.2
mile marathon distance.

Bai, only 20 years old but reportedly already a marathon
veteran, finished in 2 hours, 25 minutes, 15 seconds, just ten seconds ahead of
Ozaki and 17 seconds ahead of Meriga. Her older teammate, former London Marathon
champion and 2007 World Championships silver medalist Chunxiu Zhou, was a
hard-charging fourth in 2:25:39, seven seconds behind Meriga.

Second place in the World Cup went to Japan, with Russia and
Ethiopia following.

A strong U.S. team figured in the team standings as well, led
by 2008 Olympian Kara Goucher, who ran with the lead pack through 30K
but, like Yulamanova, had difficulties keeping down her fluids on a warm day.
Goucher finished 10th in 2:27:48 and was followed by a big PR from DesireÌÄå©
, 2:27:53 for 11th. Tera Moody finished 28th in 2:36:39 to
round out the scoring – 5th, the best U.S. women’s place at the World
Championships; the team also included Paige Higgins (30th in 2:37:11) and
Zoila Gomez (51st in 2:42:49).

Bekele made history by unseating defending champion
Bernard Lagat in the 5000 meters to become the first man to win both the
5000m and 10,000m at the same World Championships, a feat never accomplished by
his hero and Ethiopian countryman Haile Gebrselassie.

Unlike his 10,000m victory the previous weekend, where he
allowed others to set the pace and only took the lead in the last lap, in the
shorter race, Bekele, 27, led from the first lap and dictated the entire race.
Starting with a relaxed 2:20 first 800 meters, Bekele gradually picked up the
pace until he was approaching top speed on the final lap, removing much of the
sting from the closing speed of known kickers like Lagat.

Despite as many as a dozen athletes remaining in contention
until the closing lap, Bekele was never headed. Lagat attempted to close with
him in the final stretch but was unable to better Bekele’s speed, and he was
almost overtaken by Qatar’s James C’Kurui. Bekele’s winning time was
13:17.09 to Lagat’s 13:17.33, with C’Kurui at 13:17.78.

“I was determined to not let Bekele leave me. When he moved,
I moved. In the last lap, they started going hard. With 80 to go, he went, and I
passed him with 50 to go. He came back at me with 40 to go, and we struggled
over 20 meters. I gave it all I had today,” said Lagat, a two-time Olympic
medalist at 1500 meters.

In addition to Lagat, Team USA saw both Matt Tegenkamp
and Chris Solinsky, former Wisconsin teammates now training near
Portland, Ore., in the final. Both athletes were in range until the final lap,
but Tegenkamp, fourth in the Osaka final that Lagat won, found himself only
eighth here in Berlin with a 13:20.23; Solinsky, after shadowing Bekele for much
of the race, was 12th in 13:25.87.

Lagat’s two medals on the week (he also won bronze in the
men’s 1500m on Wednesday) weren’t Team USA’s only distance medals of the
Championship, as Shannon Rowbury also picked up bronze at 1500m.
Unfortunately, Rowbury’s medal came only after the apparent winner of the
women’s 1500m final, Spain’s Natalia Rodriguez, was disqualified for
interfering with Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka.

With 200 meters to go, Rodriguez thought she had a clear path
to pass Burka on the inside, but when she attempted the pass, Burka went down,
finally finishing last in 4:11.21. Rodriguez was roundly jeered by the packed
stadium at the Olympiastadion, and left the track without taking a lap of honor;
when she was disqualified, the gold went instead to defending champion Maryam
Yusuf Jamal
of Bahrain, thus giving Bahrain both 1500 titles as Yusuf
Saad Kamel
had won the men’s earlier in the week. Lisa Dobriskey of
Great Britain was advanced to silver, and Rowbury, who had been one of the five
who had separated from the pack at the finish, was promoted to bronze, but Burka
could not be given back her race.

Overall, Team USA won more gold medals than any other country
(10) and Team USA also took home more medals than any other country (22).

IAAF Track & Field World

Berlin, GER, Sunday, August 23, 2009

MEN’S 5000 Meters
1) Kenenisa Bekele (ETH),
13:17.09, Gold
2) Bernard Lagat (USA), 13:17.33, Silver
3) James C’Kurui
(QAT), 13:17.78, Bronze
4) Moses Kipsiro (UGA), 13:18.11
5) Eliud Kipchoge
(KEN), 13:18.95
6) Ali Abdosh (ETH), 13:19.11
7) Mohammed Farah (GBR),
8) Matt Tegenkamp (USA), 13:20.23
9) Vincent Chepkok (KEN),
10) JesÌÄå¼s EspaÌÄå±a (ESP), 13:22.07
Other U.S.
12) Chris
Solinsky (USA), 13:25.87

1) Xue Bai (CHN), 2:25:15,
2) Yoshimi Ozaki (JPN), 2:25:25, Silver
3) Aselefech Mergia (ETH),
2:25:32, Bronze
4) Chunxiu Zhou (CHN), 2:25:39
5) Xiaolin Zhu (CHN),
6) Marisa Barros (POR), 2:26:50
7) Yuri Kano (JPN), 2:26:57
Nailiya Yulamanova (RUS), 2:27:08
9) Alevtina Biktimirova (RUS),
10) Kara Goucher (USA), 2:27:48
11) DesireÌÄå© Davila (USA),
Other U.S.
28) Tera Moody (USA), 2:36:39
30) Paige
Higgins (USA), 2:37:11
51) Zoila GÌÄå_mez (USA), 2:42:49

World Cup Team Competition
1) China, 7:17:02
2) Japan,
3) Russia, 7:24:42
5) USA, 7:32:20
9 scoring teams (top 3 by
total time)

WC results, photos, schedule and more at:

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