By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2014 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
EUGENE, OREGON (23-Jul) — If your name is Alemitu and you hail from Ethiopia, tonight was your night to shine at historic Hayward Field. Working together throughout the women’s 5000m, Alemitu Heroye and Alemitu Hawi won gold and silver here on the second day of the IAAF World Junior Championships, finishing in 15:10.08 and 15:10.46, respectively.
“When we came here, we were wishing to win gold and silver, and that’s what we did. We didn’t mind who wins the gold,” said Heroye, 19, through an Ethiopian team translator.
The women’s 5000m began as a chess match between a pair of Japanese athletes, Maki Izumida and Fuyuka Kimura, and a contingent of East Africans that included Heroye and Hawi, Kenyans Agnes Jebet Tirop and Loice Chemnung, as well as Ugandan Stella Chesang.
Leading a majority of the opening mile was Izumida, who with Kimura had briefly built up a sizable gap on the field. Shortly after reaching 1600 meters in 5:01.62, the group of East Africans seized control of the race, led by Heroye.
Lap after lap, Heroye and Hawi worked together to establish themselves up front, their Kenyan counterparts a step behind. With six circuits remaining, the pair injected a blistering 66-second lap, leaving Tirop, Chemnung, and Chesang in the dust.
Reaching 3000 meters in 9:11.20, Heroye and Hawi were well on their way to victory. Clear on the pair’s mind was fellow countrywoman Genzebe Dibaba‘s championship record of 15:08.06, set in 2010.
“On the last three laps, we knew the gold was going to be ours. We were running to break a record,” said Hawi, 17.
In those final three laps, Heroye and Hawi would clock hand-timed splits of 73.0, 74.6, and 67.2 seconds. Down the final stretch, Heroye held off a hard final charge from Hawi, crossing the line in 15:10.08. Hawi’s runner-up finish of 15:10.46 was nearly a 25-second personal best.
“On the last lap, we were trying to break the record, but unfortunately –it was God’s will– we didn’t,” said Heroye, who becomes the seventh Ethiopian woman in meet history to claim the title in this discipline. She also extended the nation’s winning streak over 5000m at these Championships to four.
When asked how it feels to join the likes of Meseret Defar and Genzebe Dibaba as 5000m World Junior gold medalists from Ethiopia, Heroye smiled.
“We are very happy,” she said with a laugh.
Rounding out the top three was the Kenyan Tirop in 15:43.12, followed by Uganda’s Chesang in a new national junior record of 15:53.85.
Running on her home track, American Maggie Schmaedick was 12th overall in 16:19.01, less than a second off her personal best. A sophomore-to-be here at the University of Oregon, Schmaedick had countless friends, family, coaches, and the supportive Hayward Field faithful behind her the entire race.
“I feel really blessed that I got to run there [in the Championships],” she said with pure excitement. “It’s always such an amazing experience to run at Hayward. It never gets old and it never loses it’s specialness. It’s always important to me and it’s always just that extra Hayward magic. I love running here and I will always love running here.”
Meet organizers reported today’s attendance was 7,085. Among the distance finals tomorrow will be the women’s 3000m (featuring Mary Cain) and 800m, as well as the men’s 1500m.
More: LetsRun.com’s Recap of this race: Women’s 5000:Ethiopians Alemitu Heroye & Alemitu Hawi Go 1-2 and Crush the Field Heroye and Hawi used a 4:45 second 1600 to break the field and ran away with this one, finishing 33 seconds ahead of the bronze medallist, Agnes Jebet Tirop of Kenya. Maggie Schmaedick of the USA & Oregon was 12th and missed her PR by less than a second.
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