Farah Avoids Contact, Wins 2011 Worlds 5,000m Gold
Salazar Charge Caps Undefeated 2011 In 5,000 With Sprint Finish Over Former Champ Lagat; 2011 World XC Champion Merga DQed After Contact With 3 Runners In Final 320m
September 4, 2011
Daegu, South Korea
Great Britain's Mo Farah capped his rapid rise to the very top of the world distance running by winning the men's 5,000m gold medal over American Bernard Lagat, his second medal of the championships. Ethiopian 10,000m medallist and World XC Champ Imane Merga finished in the bronze position but would find out later in the evening that he had been disqualified for running on the inside of the track, and race replays would show he contacted 3 Kenyan-born athletes in the mad dash to the finish, including what may have been a decisive nudge to Lagat. With Merga's disqualification, his countryman, 21-year-old Dejen Gebremeskel, moved up to the bronze while Galen Rupp moved up to 9th after factoring in the lead of the race in the final 600m.
Changing Of The Guard: Farah The World's Best
To win gold, the 28-year-old Brit, who moved to the US this winter to be coached by Alberto Salazar, had to beat a hungry field, including beating 36-year-old Lagat at his own game - the fast championship kick. Lagat, who announced earlier in 2011 that his year would be focused on the 5,000m rather than the 1,500m, turned to his devastating kick at the end of a fartlek-style race, but by the time he got a clear path - in lane 3 thanks to a push from Imane Merga - it was too late to catch the Somalian-born, Oregon-based Brit. According to our watch, Farah closed in 52.75 for the final lap, outdistancing Lagat by a final margin of 0.28 seconds. Lagat was one of at least three men contacted by Merga in the final lap, as replays show Merga arm-checked Lagat out to lane three in the final straight while Farah sprinted away from Gebremeskel (watch this replay for the final 600 or see the embedded race video below).
Merga's Final 80m Contact "Disrupted Everything," Lagat Says
"Are you sure you were going to get him?" American flag-clad Lagat was asked by reporters afterwards.
Lagat, who was gracefully full of praise for Farah, took no time to answer, "Absolutely ... because I was waiting until 80m to go, and I felt so great going in there." Lagat clearly goes home knowing that he could have - perhaps even would have - beaten the best distance runner in the world had he not been forced an extra 4 feet to the outside of the track in the crucial stage.
5,000m Accelerates Throughout - 3 Kenyans Rebuked In Final Lap
The race started very slowly - 4:31 through the first 1,600m - but would pick up for a 4:14 and 4:11 for the closing 1,600s. The final 400 was an absolute mad dash for the finish, as Lagat, Farah, two Ethiopian and three Kenyan contenders threw themselves at the front of the race. Ultimately, all three Kenyan nationals would finish out of the medals, as 2003 world champion Eliud Kipchoge lost his grip on the lead with 320 to go after contact with Merga, Thomas Longosiwa fell with 550 to go, only to rally back into contention before being knocked by Merga with 200 to go, and Isiah Koech finished first among the Kenyans but also first out of the medals (after Merga's DQ). Kenya may have dominated Ethiopia in the overall medal standings (winning 17 medals in just 9 events), but Ethiopia won the battle in the men's 5,000m and men's 10,000m, even with Merga's DQ.
|Press conference where Wejo asks for clarification on the protest that DQed Merga.|
3,200: 8:45 (4:14)
4,800: 12:56 (4:11)
closing in 26.2 (52.8 for the final circuit)
Finding Answers On The DQ
The IAAF had a medal ceremony for Imane Merga and then a post-race press conference for him as a medallist. The only problem was while the press conference was going on, he was being disqualified. LetsRun.com's Wejo attempted to ask Merga about the contact and disqualification, but Merga does not speak great English to begin with, did not have an interpreter, and did not know of the disqualification until Wejo's question. It was perhaps one of the more awkward moments from the post-race press conferences (we've been keeping a list of them), but someone needed to ask Merga about it. We'd still like to know more about Merga's DQ, but Merga's aggressive race tactics may have finally caught up to him. LRC message boarders have been talking about Merga's willingness to initiate contact all year long.
Looking Ahead: 2012 London 5,000m Prospects - Lagat Knows He Has Work Cut Out For Him, Rupp Says He Needs More Strength
Bernard Lagat said after the race that looking ahead, if he wants to win he'll have to come up with a new tactic to defeat Farah's finishing kick. The last couple years, until Farah came around, Lagat has been able to rely on his superior finishing speed to win races. Now, just like when he faced Kenenisa Bekele, Lagat may need to think more about his tactics to come up with a winning strategy. Lagat readily acknowledged Farah is the favorite heading into 2012. "So now we know Mo [Farah] is going to the Olympics as the favorite, that is for sure. So now it's just work hard, train hard again ... see if I can get Mo."
Rupp was leading down the homestretch right before the bell until three or four guys passed him when the real racing started. America's young hopeful said after the race, "Next I need to work on my strength. The speed is there, but I had to spend too much energy just to get to the end of the race. When it came time to kick, I didn't have it." Rupp's final lap performance in the 5,000m was similar to the 10,000m. He was in contention in both races but could not kick with the top runners.
QT1: Mo Farah's WC gold is the first WC gold for an Alberto Salazar-coached athlete. Farah tactics were superb once again - running up front the final 1,000m, avoiding contact with any rivals, while others set the pace for most of the race. Rupp and Farah ran shoulder-to-shoulder with 650 to go before Rupp faded at the bell, as the pace went to 26 per 200m.
Updated Monday am: We just re-watched this race on Korean tv and it struck us how we take it for granted Mo Farah is the top distance runner in the World. A year ago he might have been Rupp, the guy leading right before the bell who you expected to get passed. Now he's the best. His transformation this year is remarkable. Props for cementing it with the World title.
QT2: Rupp (13:28.64), finished just over 1 second behind 2003 world champ Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, who has 9 career sub-12:55 performances on his outdoor track ledger. Kipchoge was in good position with 350 to go, but after approaching Merga's outside shoulder, made contact with the Ethiopian and moved back, no longer factoring up front.
QT3: Gebremeskel, who won the adidas Grand Prix in New York this year and ran 12:53 at age 20, wins his first world medal with the 2011 bronze.
QT4: Farah lost out to Ibrahim Jeilan in the 10,000m final by 0.26 seconds, but won the 5,000m by 0.28.
QT5: Kenya scored zero medals in the men's 5,000m and 10,000m, and also missed out in the wacky women's 1,500m. In the remaining 9 distance and mid-distance running events for both genders, the Kenyan men and women won 17 medals, a medal haul greater than any other nation's except the United States (25) and Russia (19, 6 of which were racewalking medals).
QT6: We were surprised to see Mo Farah pull off on the backstretch to take water only 3 minutes into the race. At this point the field was running splits near 70 seconds per lap.
QT7: Had Lagat maneuvered a clear path for himself at the race's finish and defeated Farah, the Brit would have gone home a narrow 2nd in both events. Obviously this didn't happen but when you go back and watch the end of the race you see what Lagat was talking about.
QT8: Some major praise for Thomas Longosiwa. Knocked down on the track with 550m to go, he got back up and challenged with the leaders on the backstretch and still finished in 6th (ahead of Eliud Kipchoge and Galen Rupp). Maybe this will be Rupp's catalyst. Since Farah got beaten by a guy (Gebremesekel) with one shoe on in February, he had not lost until the 10,000m final.
Reaction And Results Below
LRC Message Boards: RUPP WAS RIGHT THERE WITH 400 TO GO! WHAT HAPPENED?
The race really starts at the 4:30 point of this video.
|Lagat talks about facing Mo in London.|
Men's 5,000m Results
04 September 2011 - 19:40 - Revised
|Mo Farah runs alongside training partner Galen Rupp with under 1,000m to go in the men's 5,000m final. (tracktownphoto.com)
|4||655||Isiah Kiplangat Koech||KEN||13:24.95|
|6||658||Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa||KEN||13:26.73|
|13||709||Hussain Jamaan Alhamdah||KSA||13:34.83|
|14||554||Alistair Ian Cragg||IRL||13:45.33|
|1,000m||655||Isiah Kiplangat Koech||KEN||2:50.90|
|3,000m||709||Hussain Jamaan Alhamdah||KSA||8:13.70|