Women's 5,000m: Kenyan 1-2 Sweep Caps Greatest World Champs For Kenyan Women On The Track
August 22, 2009
Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot and Sylvia Kibet passed Ethiopia's Meseret Defar down the final
stretch to sweep the gold and silver medals in the women's 5,000m final at the 2009
World Track and Field Championships to cap the Kenyan women's most successful Worlds on the track.
Prior to the last World Championships, the Kenyan women had won 7 medals on the
track ever, counting both the Olympics and World Championships. At this World Championships
(the Kenyan women have no one in Sunday's 1,500m final) the Kenyan women
have 6 medals, including 2 golds. They got 4 track medals in 2007 and 4 in 2008.
Six Together At The Bell
The women's race featured a modest pace until the final kilometer that left nearly the
entire field in contention. Lap-by-lap splits are below, but a 4:57 opening 1,600 and a
4:54.4 second 1,600 did nearly nothing to separate the field, as the
entire bunch except for 2 was in contention until the pace quickened with 1,000m to go.
The 11th lap was the first under 72 seconds (15-minute pace), as it was a 70.23, and
the real race began. The modest increase in pace only shook off the pretenders
(American Jen Rhines fell back just before 800m to go), as at the bell (12:59.35), six women -
three from Kenya (Cheruiyot, Kibet, and Iness Chenonge) and three from Ethiopia
(Defar, Sentayehu Ejigu and Meselech Melkamu (who would have won the 10,000m gold a
week ago if she had not celebrated too early) - were still in contention. Coming off
the final turn, the medallists were determined, as Cheruiyot, Kibet and Defar were
clear of everyone else. The final 100m would determine the order of the medals.
The homestretch was similar to the women's 10,000m final as Defar was in front. She
glanced over her shoulder, once, then twice. However, unlike
the 10,000m, her victory did not seem imminent, as Cheruiyot was close. Cheruiyot came by
Defar at least 20 meters before the line and would get the gold. Kibet was charging
fast and Defar did the same thing she did in the 10,000m, give up just before the
line. In the 10,000m, it cost her the bronze medal; here it cost her the silver, as it
was just enough to let Kibet, Kenya's "Forgotten Lady" (excellent LRC
profile here) steal the silver, after having finished 4th in Beijing and Osaka. Ejigu
was 5 seconds further adrift in fourth, Melkamu had to settle for fifth, and Chenonge
sixth. Silvia Weissteriner of Italy ran a seasonal best to be the first European.
American Jen Rhines was ninth.
Cheruiyot's final lap of 58.62 (28.80 last 200) was identical to Defar's 58.6 final lap to win in 2007 in nearly the same time that Cheruiyot won in today (14:57.91 for Defar in 2007, 14:57.97 today).
Singing And Dancing For Cheruiyot, Defar Talks About Illness
Afterwards, the Kenyans were rightfully elated and Defar dejected. Cheruiyot
said, "This is a great achievement for me." She added she'd celebrate with a little
singing and dancing in the hotel and then more singing and dancing in Kenya. Kibet,
after just missing the medals the last two years, was pleased to finally be on the
podium. The Renato Canova-coached athlete said the plan was simple, have a better last
lap than she did in Osaka and Bejing. She said, "The tactics were to be good the last
400 because in Osaka (and Beijing) I was fourth."
Defar had one of the most
disappointing championships of any athlete. Just meters away from two gold medals, she
leaves with only one bronze after costing herself two medals by letting up
before the line. She said at the press conference, "I'm really greatly disappointed by
what happened." She said she came in very fit. "I was in top condition. I'm very
concerned about what happened," and then discussed that she came down with a sore
throat after arriving in Berlin in last Friday. She said she sweated through the night
Friday before Saturday's 10k final despite having the air conditioning on.
She said the illness "did not really affect me during the 10,000m race."
After the 10k she then felt worse and got on medication. She then sprinted all the way
to the finish in her 5k heat to see how she felt, but said she did not feel 100%
tonight. She said, "I did feel a lack of power ... perhaps because of the medication I
took, I was feeling weak."
Jen Rhines 9th
American Jen Rhines was 9th after falling back with 800m to go. For Rhines it was an
improvement on Beijing (14th) and her second-best finish in a World Championships
(she was 7th in Osaka).
Jen told USATF afterwards, "I was disappointed. I thought I would be a bit more competitive. I just
didn't have it. I planned on making a move with about 3 or 4 laps to
go, and felt like I was already struggling. I finished up the best that
I could. I just didn't have the kind of race that I wanted to." (Note: The IAAF has asked that we no longer upload video interviews.)
4:57.04 (73.90) (Defar in lead)
8:39.10 (73.2) (Cheruiyot in lead )
(10:27 with 4 to go)
11:03.50 (72.08) (2 off back)
12:51 with 2 to go (Jen Rhines starts to fall off)
12:59.35 6 together at bell
14:29.17 63.15 Cheruyiot leading with 200 to go, Defar went around on turn
(58.62 final lap, 28.80 last 200)