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Men's 5k Heats: 3 Americans And 3 Kenyan Advance, Saif Shaheen Out
Qatar's Saif Shaheen, the world record holder in the steeplechase, was the big casualty in the men's 5,000m heats, as all of the other favorites advanced. Advancing to the final were three Americans, defending champion Bernard Lagat (who had to get medical attention after the race), Matt Tegenkamp and Chris Solinsky. We recap the heats below and have interviews with Solinsky, Tegenkamp, and Shaheen, who was involved in a collision with Ali Abdosh of Ethiopia.
Heat 1: Tegenkemp And Bekele Stride-For-Stride
The top 5 in each heat made the final automatically with 5 time qualifiers for the final.
Chris Solinsky should go out and buy Japan's Yuichiro Ueno a beer, as Ueno did the field a favor by starting with a quick 62.20 first lap to get the pace going. Near the completion of one lap, we believe there was a collision involving Ethiopia's Abi Abdosh and Qatar's Saif Shaheen. We didn't see either runner go down, but Abdosh lost his shoe and Shaheen stopped running. If someone has a replay of this let us know. We first noticed Shaheen off the back and later Abdosh off the back. They both struggled within the first 2 laps, but these could have been different instances. Shaheen would get going first, but trailed the pack. Abdosh lost the most time as he stopped to put on his shoe and it cost him roughly 15 seconds (at 1,000m he was 13.3 seconds behind the field).
Ueno kept motoring away at the front and reached 800m in 2:07.30 and the field trailed him by 3.3 seconds at the 1,000m. They would soon close the gap on him and Ueno would end up fading badly to dead last in 14:30. Shaheen caught the pack at 1,400m. He revealed afterwards after he got spiked he was worried about his hamstring injury so he ran very slowly until he was sure he could run without further injuring himself (interview on the right). Shaheen wasted no time after catching the pack, as by 1,800m he was in front, as they hit 2k in 5:23.80.
Then Shaheen's two former countrymen in Kenyan's Vincent Chepkok and and Joseph Ebuya went to the front and kept the pace going. 3k was reached in 8:05.77 (2:41.97 the fast k for the main pack except for the last one).
The whole time Abdosh, a 12:59 guy, was closing his 15-second gap on the field. At 1k he was about 14 seconds back, at 2k he had been 6-7 behind and at 3k it was 3.93 seconds. Abdosh, however, had closed the gap faster at first and was tiring. The crowd was going nuts and people were rising to their feet to cheer for him as he went around. Just went it seemed he was going to catch the back of the back at 3,300m, he started to fade and after 9 laps it was apparent he was going in the wrong direction. (after the race, he was put in the final after an appeal since he lost his shoe. Shaheen was not put in the final).
Up front, the two Kenyans were still leading and at 4k, it was Ebuya in front (10:48.52 - 2:42.75 last km). 2:42 pace is 13:30 for 5k and another 2:42 would give them 13:30, but if you figure they'll kick off that it's a decent pace.
With 2 laps to go the entire field except for 4 were still together and the real running began. The bell was reached in 12:25.31 and the racing was off. Olympic 5k and 10k champ Kenenisa Bekele moved up going three wide on the turn to take the lead on the backstretch. An aggressive Matt Tegenkamp moved up into third on the backstretch and was on Bekele's shoulder at 200m to go. Bekele would power down the homestretch but Tegenkamp was nearly stride-for-stride with him. Britain's Mo Farah was right there as well. Chepkok was then next and that left Jesús España of Spain and Chris Solinsky to battle for the final automatic spot in the final. España would get it by .24 over Solinsky.
Joseph Ebuya of Kenya was nearly 1.5 seconds behind Solinsky, but the honest pace would be rewarded, as all 5 time qualifiers for the final were from this heat.
Tegnkamp And Solinsky Impress
Solinsky afterwards said he got a little boxed in on the last lap but claimed he got a little lazy and took a chance he'd make it to the final on time because of the honest pace and didn't fight as hard for the final spot. He said, "As soon as it came down to the top five, I could have done it. When they were running fast, I tried to chance it a little bit by letting up." He also said if the pace had been slow his mentality was to win the heat. He also talks about not wanting to view the Africans as any different. There also is an interview with Aussie Collis Birmingham here.
Heat 2: Only Five Advance
Despite knowing the time to beat and with a generous 5 time qualifiers, no one in heat 2 wanted to be the sacrificial lamb, so the heat started much slower than heat 1. The 1,000 was over 8 seconds slower (2:48). Things got much faster the next 1,000m - 2:39.62 - with Uganda's Moses Kipsiro in front.
During the 2nd km, Lagat and Samuel Tsegay got into a little exchange. Tsegay seemed upset Lagat clipped his heels and Lagat seemed to tell Tsegay things were okay, to keep running.
During the third km, the pace slowed again (2:49.40) with Kipsiro still in front. So they were 12 seconds back of heat 1 with 2k to go.
Despite really upping the ante the final 2k (5:05.43 the final 2k), this heat would just miss (by .38 of a second) having any time qualifiers. With 800m remainng (11:25), the real running began, as 9 were still together. 20-year-old American Evan Jager had just fallen off at this point. At the bell (12:28.28), it was apparent some guys would miss the final if they weren't in the top 5.
Uganda's Kipsiro was quickest on the final lap (54.70), a little slower than heat 1, but heat 2 had been running much faster during the final 2km. Eliud Kipchoge was right behind him comfortably in second. There were six in contention for the five spots down the final straight. The first 5 seemed to have them, but Bekana Daba of Ethiopia was closing hard on Charkier Coujattaoui of Morocco and Lagat. Lagat was looking around and both he and Boujattaoui would finish just ahead of Daba.
Afterwards, Bernard Lagat did not come through the mixed zone as he requested medical assistance. We've have not heard anything from USATF, but he was seen in a wheelchair on the Versus television coverage of the meet. Apparently, he was cut and needed a few stitches.
Evan Jager talks about his first Worlds experiences, how he ended up in Portland, how he was bummed when he heard coach Jerry Schumacher was leaving, and how he thought he'd have to close the final 5k in 5:00 to make the final in time (it was more like 5:05).