Shalane Flanagan Gets Bronze At 2011 World Cross-Country Championships
March 20, 2011
American Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Shalane Flanagan turned in a stellar performance at the World XC Championships in Spain, getting the bronze medal.
In the final world XC Championships before a one-year hiatus next year, Flanagan faced a strong field that included the reigning 5,000m world champion (Vivian Cheruiyot) and reigning 10,000m world champion (Linet Masai, 2nd here the last two years).
Flanagan was with the lead pack throughout and actually in the front of the group of eight at roughly the three mile mark (15 minutes). Then Masai went to the front and started pushing. 17 minutes in, the group started to fall apart, and Flanagan was at the back of it.
Flanagan Seventh At The Bell Lap
At the bell with one 2km loop left, the front pack contained four Kenyans in front (Masai, Cheruiyot, Priscah Cherono and Pauline Korikwiang), then two Ethiopians one second back (Meselech Melkamu and Wude Ayalew) and definite separation to Flanagan two seconds back in 7th. Flanagan was heading in the wrong direction and a non-African had not finished in the top 10 here since 2006. Surely her day was over, right?
The World Champions Cheruiyot and Masai continued to pull away from the field as expected with a gap to, with Melkamu in third. Melkamu, a 29:53 10k runner, was in familiar territory in third, as she has five World Cross-Country bronze medals to her name. A bigger gap opened up to the chasers behind Melkamu, which all of a sudden was led by Flanagan.
Flanagan Gives Chase
Flanagan was now rolling in the right direction. Could she catch Melkamu? Yes, no problem. Flanagan passed Melkamu going over the log barriers 22 minutes into the race. Would Shalane hold on the final kilometer for the bronze?
Up front, Cheruiyot was starting to pull away from Masai. Masai seemed destined to have to settle for silver for the third year in a row. Now, however, Flanagan was closing on Masai fast. Seemingly out of the medals with a lap to go, could she catch Masai and get silver?
No. There wasn't enough distance left. Cheruiyot crossed the line first with the impressive gold, Masai got a well-deserved but bittersweet silver seven seconds back, and Flanagan - three more seconds back - got the bronze.
Flanagan, the Olympic bronze medallist in 2008 at 10,000m, runner-up at the 2010 NYC marathon, had absolutely dominated the US cross-country championships last month, and we rank this bronze up there with all of those accomplishments. Her coaching change to Jerry Schumacher had resulted in some sub-par performances at 10,000m the first year, but that is all forgotten with this stellar run.
It was the first non-African medal at this event in eight years.
Behind Flanagan, her American teammates were doing quite well. American record holder at 5,000m, Molly Huddle, was 17th, marathoner Magdalena Boulet was 18th, and marathoner Blake Russell was 19th, giving the US a repeat bronze medal performance.
The Kenyan women crushed the Ethiopian women for gold.
Other notable performances included 20-year-old Brit Charlotte Purdue in 14th.
Afterwards Flanagan told USATF, "I had to rise up and elevate my game today. I was so pleased to be in medal position. It was a lot of fun today. I know that we have to elevate our game in order to be in a medal position. I love the fact that this is a team sport, and there is a great team dynamic going with all of the ladies on the team." More USA quotes here.
Top results below. Full results here.
On The Boards: Flanagan grabs bronze!!!!!
You can watch the race on demand here. The women's senior race is in the middle of the show (3rd race of the day), so drag the slider there.
|1||Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot||24:58||+0:00|
|2||Linet Chepkwemoi Masai||25:07||+0:09|
|5||Priscah Jepleting Cherono||25:20||+0:22|
|7||Pauline Chemning Korikwiang||25:26||+0:28|
|13||Sylvia Jebiwott Kibet||25:56||+0:58|
|23||Maryam Yusuf Jamal||26:39||+1:41|
|35||Alia Saeed Mohammed||27:04||+2:06|