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Defar Blows Away Field on Final Lap for 5k Gold
By David Monti
(c) 2007 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

OSAKA (01-Sep) -- Meseret Defar, the reigning Olympic gold medalist and world record holder at 5000m, claimed her first outdoor world title on the pentultimate day of the 11th IAAF World Championships at Nagai Stadium.

Helped by a plodding pace set by fan favorite Kayoko Fukushi, who was doubling back from the 10,000m, Defar did little but wait for 11 of the 12 and one-half laps.  In the early going, she simply trailed a step behind Fukushi who was turning gentle 74 and 75 second laps.  It wasn't until the 11th lap that Vivian Cheruiyot tried to jump start the race with a sub-72 circuit.  At the bell, Defar applied the pressure, but held her big sprint for the end.

"In the last 400 meters I increased the length of my stride," said Defar after the race as if teaching a class.  "And in the last 200 meters I used my sprint to win."

Elementary, my dear Watson!  Her 58.6 second final lap gave her a more than adequate cushion at the finish, grabbing the gold medal in 14:57.91, Ethiopia's third of these championships.

Behind her the three Kenyans, led by Cheruiyot, were working over Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse, the silver medalist at these championships at 10,000m.  They left her behind to finish fifth, then battled for the last two medals.  Cheruiyot was comfortably ahead of her teammates, landing the silver in 14:58.50.  She knew she chould not catch Defar.

"The last 400m it was too fast for me," said Cheruiyot.  "I could not catch up to her."

Priscah Jepleting then battled Sylvia Kibet, NYC Half-Marathon champion Hilda Kibet's little sister, to the line with Jepleting getting the bronze by just 4/100ths of a second.

In the minor placcings, Meselech Melkamu finished sixth while Americans Jen Rhines and Shalane Flanagan finished seventh and eight, respectively.  Rhines finish was the best by an American since Libbie Hickman also finished seventh in Athens in 1997.

"My goal at the beginning of the year was to make top eight in the finals," said Rhines who lives and trains in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.  "I made a lot of tactical errors, but it's my highest placing at worlds."

The men's 5000m final will be contested tomorrow night and will feature a heavyweight match between Australia's Craig Mottram, Ethiopia's Tariku Bekele, Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge and America's Bernard Lagat.  With Matt Tegenkamp and Adam Goucher, the Americans have three men in the final for the first time in the history of these championships.

1   410 Meseret Defar   ETH 14:57.91    
2   640 Vivian Cheruiyot    KEN 14:58.50    
3   639 Priscah Jepleting Cherono   KEN 14:59.21    
4   643 Sylvia Jebiwott Kibet   KEN 14:59.26    (PB)
5   904 Elvan Abeylegesse   TUR 15:00.88    (SB)
6   415 Meselech Melkamu    ETH 15:01.42    
7   993 Jennifer Rhines USA 15:03.09    
8   961 Shalane Flanagan    USA 15:03.86    
9   479 Joanne Pavey    GBR 15:04.77    (SB)
10  409 Gelete Burika   ETH 15:07.46    
11  818 Mariya Konovalova   RUS 15:09.71    
12  573 Silvia Weissteiner  ITA 15:11.81    (PB)
13  262 Volha Krautsova BLR 15:11.82    (SB)
14  602 Kayoko Fukushi  JPN 15:19.40    
15  759 Jessica Augusto POR 15:24.93    
Intermediate    Bib Athlete     Nat Event
1000m   602 Kayoko Fukushi  JPN 2:59.22
2000m   602 Kayoko Fukushi  JPN 6:04.69
3000m   640 Vivian Cheruiyot    KEN 9:11.99
4000m   640 Vivian Cheruiyot    KEN 12:13.05

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