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World Athletics Final Day 1 Recap
Bekele Wins Another Duel With Lagat In Super-Slow 3000m While Nancy Lagat and Hannah England Provide Day's Only Real Fireworks With 1500m Upset Of Jamal and Burka
By Emory Mort for LetsRun.com
Men's 3000m - Kenenisa Bekele Outkicks Lagat Again, This Time In A Shorter, Slower Race
The fireworks were set off late in the race. Hanging in last place for much of the tempo run, Kenenisa Bekele picked the perfect time to move up. With 900m to go the virtually unbeatable Ethiopian charged around the field to take the lead and take control of the pace. With two laps to go the field were at 6:11.
The field essentially maintained their order as Bekele squeezed the pace down. At the bell they passed in 7:11, meaning Bekele had brought the lap pace down to 60 seconds per lap. The men, shown from a front angle, were literally running 10-wide on the track as everyone wanted a piece at the front. In the widest slot was American Chris Solinsky, the only non-Kenyan or Ethiopian in the field, as he made his way up from his previous position as race caboose. Solinsky finished quite well to nab 6th-place with a long, sustained kick superior to that of competitors like Kenyan greats Edwin Soi and Eliud Kipchoge.
Up front distance fans were treated to another last minute match-off between poly-distance specialists Bernard Lagat and Kenenisa Bekele. The penultimate furlong (~200m) was 27 seconds as Bekele pressed off the front and everyone held on for dear life. Lagat was in about 4th, waiting to engage his ultimate gear. With 120m to go, Lagat took off after an already flat-out Bekele. But Bekele was well on his way to victory. He looked phenomenally smooth and unchallenged as he closed his final 200m in 25.48 seconds. There was an electricity in his step that was simply a small level above Lagat's wattage. While Bernard jumped up his effort to try to catch Bekele, he really couldn't make up much ground. Unlike in Berlin at the world championships 5000m, Lagat could not draw even with Bekele and truly threaten him. Bekele's last lap was 52.03 and his final 800m were run in 1:52.
It was a brilliant sprint finish from both competitors but there was no unseating of the champion. Kenenisa Bekele is simply unbeatable at a massive range of distances. Common sense might dictate that a 10k/5k/XC specialist like Bekele might not be able to kick with the world's best milers (Ethiopian 2009 world championship 1500m medalist Deresse Mekonnen was also in the race). But Bekele defies common sense. He is much better than any other distance runner in the world because he can defeat seemingly every tactic in almost any distance between 2 and probably 8 or 9 miles.
Women's 1500m - Americans and British Continue To Chip Away At African Dominance As Nancy Langat Gets First Big Win Of The Season
The reason we mentioned the British and the Americans is non-Berlin qualifier Hannah England (GBR) came through to get second place in this kicker's race with an even bigger surprise coming from early race leader Christin Wurth-Thomas rolling up on Jamal, Burka, and Shannon Rowbury for third place. Rowbury would get 5th to lead the British/American squad to a 2-3-5 finish without the help of Berlin medalist Lisa Dobriskey or American sub-4 1500m runners Jenny Barringer and Anna Willard.
The front women closed the race in 58.8 seconds after 73 and 74-second opening laps. Burka took over at the 800m point to lead the field through a 61.3. The women nearly closed in 2:00, which might be a race not suited to Burka's and Jamal's strengths, but going in it would have been hard to bet against those two under almost any race circumstances.
2nd-placer Hannah England (right) deserves a ton of credit as we mentioned before she was not even selected to the British team in Berlin. In this race alone she took down all three medalists plus Burka who fell while leading with 200m to go. The other memorable moment in this race was Christin Wurth-Thomas finding a kick in the home straight to pass Rowbury, who looked to be in race contention with 400m to go. Wurth-Thomas found something she didn't think she had. To find that gear after 600m of running sub-60 pace per lap is pretty impressive for someone not known for finishing speed but rather sort of a gritty, grind it out from the front approach.
Women's 5000m - Dibaba and Defar Restore Previous World Order
Ethiopian super-talent Meselech Melkamu - nipped at the line to lose gold in the 10,000m in Berlin - also was left in the wake of the great Dibaba and Defar and finished 9th.
Men's 800m - David Rudisha Should Be Ranked World #1 800m Man Despite Not Making Berlin Final
Men's 100m and Women's 200m - Close Finishes Between World's Best
In the men's 100m, Tyson Gay overcame a huge deficit to the human freight train that is Asafa Powell to get a really close victory 9.88 to 9.90. Powell took Gay down in their last race after Gay ran his American record 9.71m for second place in Berlin over Powell. Gay's performance today in Greece showed his high level of determination as he made up a big, big gap to overcome Powell only in the final one or two meters as the Jamaican lunged at the line.
Men's Shot Put - Championship Record For Christian Cantwell Over Olympic Champ Majewski As American's Signature Year Continues
Men's 400m Hurdles - Clement Finishes Off Dominant Season
Women's Long Jump - Brittney Reese Comes Out On Top Again
Women's Pole Vault - Yelena Isinbayeva Gets Win On 3rd Attempt Clearance At 4.80m
Men's 400m - LaShawn Merritt Wins Sleeper
Men's High Jump - World Champ Rybakov Gets Big 2.34m Clearance Win Over Baba
Women's Steeplechase - Ruth Bisibori Leads Kenyan Dominated Race Lacking In Top Stars