Vivian Cheruiyot Leads Kenyan Women's 10k Sweep To Make It Perfect Six for Six for Kenya

American 10,000m Medalists Goucher and Flanagan Come Up Short

By LetsRun.com
August 27, 2011

Six medals were awarded on Day 1 of the World Track and Field Championships, and the Kenyan women won them all.

After a morning marathon sweep, Vivian Cheruiyot led the Kenyan women to their second distance medal domiation of the day, with Sally Kipyego and Linet Masai close behind. Ethiopia's highly notable duo of two-time World and Olympic champ (at 5000m) Meseret Defar (DNF after 8k) and 2009 silver medallist Meselech Melkamu (5th-place) challenged, but this was clearly Kenya's day as Priscah Cherono moved up on the last lap to finish fourth for good measure.

Kenya may have finished 1-2-3, but in the early laps it was America 1-2-3. 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Shalane Flanagan led early, running laps of 75-76 until 2 miles when the Kenyans assumed the lead. The 3200m mark was also notable, for it marked the lap when American world championship medalist Kara Goucher, coming off an injury she had hoped did not affect her fitness, was dropped from the lead group. Flanagan and Jen Rhines held on to the pack, with Flanagan lasting with the lead pack until after 7k.

Women's 10,000 Highlights

The race really got going between 4 and 6k, when American-based Kipyego assumed some of the pace-making duties. The Kenyan runners traded the lead from 3200m until the race's finish, never allowing another runner at the front. The pack whittled down to 8 with 3000m to go. The big surprise was just before 8000m when Meseret Defar, who came into the race undefeated on the year and with the world #2 at 5000, was dropped from the lead pack. She would soon drop out. During the final mile only 5 were in medal contention (Cheruiyot, Kipyego, Masai, Melkamu and Kenyan Priscah Cherono).


Cheruiyot Blasts 61 Second Final Lap For Gold
At the bell, the same five were in medal contention but Cheruiyot showed on the final lap why she is currently the best distance runner on the planet. Cheruiyot started to accelerate on the first turn and surprisingly it was Kipyego, not the much more credentialed Masai, who was the only one to respond. With 200 remaining those two were well clear of everyone else and then Cheruiyot was too good over the final 200m and Kipyego had to settle for silver. Defending champ Masai got the bronze but was comforted by the Kenyan 1-2-3 sweep. Meanwhile behind her Priscah Cherono would pass Meselech Melkamu to make it a perfect Kenyan 1-2-3-4. The leaders ran their final 1000m in approximately 2:51, and their final 5000m in approximately 15:00.

Shalane Flanagan Leads the Americans and Post Race American Reaction
Shalane Flanagan was a respectable 7th in 31:25 and Jen Rhines was 9th in 31:47. Kara Goucher ended up getting lapped and finished 13th in 32:29.

More Photos Here

Afterwards we talked to Flanagan and Goucher about their races. Flanagan was drenched in sweat in the humid Daegu and remarked, "I feel like I just took a shower." On her race she said,  "I need some time to reflect a little bit. I wanted those ladies to earn it and they earned it... I just didn't have it tonight..." Looking ahead she may not have been saving it for Zurich, but up next is a 5000m American record attempt there. Then it's on to the Olympic marathon trials. She said assuming she makes the team for London, "My heart's kind of set on the marathon."

Kara Goucher had a disappointing day but she had recently missed two weeks of running with a stress reaction in her femur. She said, "My goal for the race was just to not give up and to fight for the end and to kind of hope for a miracle. The miracle didn't happen....It (the injury) caught up to me, you can only push through for so long." Goucher had said she had been hitting her workouts despite the hiatus from the injury so she hoped for the best in Daegu.

When asked about her overall season (5th place in the Boston Marathon after the birth of her first child Colt last fall), Goucher said, "It's been a frustrating year for me...Right now I just want to put it behind me. It's been frustrating."

All Smiles for the Kenyan Women
We hate it when people talk about "a Kenyan" winning a race as each Kenyan champion is an individual. Tonight however, it is fair to talk about the Kenyans because Saturday was definitely their day as a nation. A perfect six for six in the medals.

It was even hard for Linet Masai - the defending champion - to be too disappointed with a bronze because her country was doing so well. A few years ago the Ethiopians with Meseret Defar and Tirunesh Dibaba dominated the distance ranks. Now it is the Kenyans. As Vivian Cheruiyot said on fortunes changing in the sport "Today and tomorrow is not the same."

Sally Kipyego's performance was the most surprising, but her words summed up well the Kenyan women's breakthrough day as a team. She said,  "I'm humbled, I'm grateful. It's a huge break for me. I'm excited and really happy."

LRC Quick Takes Below with Video Interviews Plus Recap of Decathlon Day 1, Men's 100 and More

1 573 Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot KEN 30:48.98 (PB)
2 579 Sally Kipyego KEN 30:50.04
3 583 Linet Chepkwemoi Masai KEN 30:53.59 (SB)
4 571 Priscah Jepleting Cherono KEN 30:56.43 (PB)
5 352 Meselech Melkamu ETH 30:56.55 (SB)
6 183 Shitaye Eshete BRN 31:21.57 (NR)
7 936 Shalane Flanagan USA 31:25.57
8 721 Ana Dulce Félix POR 31:37.03
9 971 Jennifer Rhines USA 31:47.59
10 716 Jessica Augusto POR 32:06.68 (SB)
11 350 Tigist Kiros ETH 32:11.37
12 361 Christelle Daunay FRA 32:22.20
13 944 Kara Goucher USA 32:29.58
14 556 Hikari Yoshimoto JPN 32:32.22
15 553 Kayo Sugihara JPN 32:53.89
16 468 Krisztina Papp HUN 32:56.02
17 544 Megumi Kinukawa JPN 34:08.37 (SB)
343 Meseret Defar ETH DNF
125 Eloise Wellings AUS DNS

QT1: Kenya's 6 medals to start the Championships is simply stunning but it may just be the theme for the whole women's meet. Looking ahead, Cheruiyot will be a huge favorite to win the 5000m and Milcah Chemos is the heavy favorite in the steeple. They also have Janeth Jepkosgei (world champ 2007) in the 800 and Nancy Langat (Olympic champion 1500) in the 1500.

QT2: Sally Kipyego's rise from NCAA champion to World Championship silver medallist is simply amazing. No one from Kenya has done what she has done before. Kipyego last represented Kenya internationally TEN years ago at the World Junior Cross Country Championships. Then she did it her way, starring at Texas Tech before finally breaking through the senior ranks this year. Kipyego pointed out that if she tried to do it any other way she likely would never have made it because five years ago she was not ready to compete on the senior level internationally which most Kenyan women are forced to do out of necessity. Kipyego also showed Kenyan women they can get a degree and still run well. She said of her ground-breaking performance, "This medal speaks for itself. I'd like to tell a lot of young girls in Kenya they can still go to school, they can still get a degree, they can achieve that part of their life and still be successful in athletics.

QT3: We hate to beat a dead horse but despite all her accomplishments in XC and the marathon, Shalane Flanagan is not as good a track runner since she left coach John Cook. Comparing her to her John Cook days on the track may be a bit unfair because her bronze medal on the track perhaps was an outlier of sorts. Shalane reminded us of how special that run was. She was sick in Beijing before the 10,000m yet she went out and ran the best 10,000m of her life in the heat.

QT4  Hard to believe Kara Goucher is frustrated with her season. She gave birth to her son Colt last fall and then rushed back to finish 5th in the Boston Marathon and now is representing the US on the track. Very impressive when one takes a step back.

QT5: Linet Masai had this to say on the marathon and drew some laughs. She said she would move up to the marathon, but added, "Marathon is a way of going for retirement."

Vivian, Sally and Linet Talk About Historic Day for Kenya

Sally Kipyego on Her Surprise Silver


Linet Masai on Bronze

Shalane Flanagan Trying to Make Sense of Her Run

Kara Goucher Surprisingly Frustrated by 2011


Other Action: Lemaitre Smokes Gatlin in 100 heats, Bolt Looks Damn Good

Hamming it up pre-race, looking over his shoulder mid-race at Dwain Chambers, Usain Bolt started very well, then cruised a 10.10 (-0.7 wind) to end the evening and send the fans home happy. Returning to his first championship after returning from suspension, while suffering from a rare frostbite injury,  Justin Gatlin had a bit of a rude awakening, getting smoked by Frenchman Christopher Lemaitre (the first white man to break 10-flat). Gatlin joined teammates Walter Dix and Trell Kimmons in advancing to the next round. Bolt was joined by Jamaicans Michael Frater and Yohan Blake as heat winners. In case you missed the big news, world-leading Jamaican Asafa Powell dropped out just days before the start of the 100 with an injury that apparently isn't major enough to keep him out the 4x100.

Women's 400: Ohuruogu False Starts 
After a last place debacle in her last major performance leading up to Daegu, Great Britain's Christine Ohuruogu dispiritedly left the track after false-starting in the first of 3 rounds of the 400m. All four Americans advance to the semi-final, led by powerhouses Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards. Felix is attempting the never-before-accomplished 400-200 double gold, while Richards is rounding in to top form after injury. Americans Francena McCorory and Jessica Beard ran 52's and made the semis. Botswana's Amantle Montsho had the best time of the day in 50.95.

Men's Decathlon: Hardee and Eaton in Hunt For Gold
Ashton Eaton didn't have a great day in the decathlon, scratching two of his long jumps and only jumping 2.02 in the high jump (both well below his bests). He tried to set a huge mark in the day-ending 400, but left the track frustrated after tying up in the final 50m and "only" running a season's best 46.99 that crushed 2009 world champ Trey Hardee. To show how high expectations are, Eaton still leads after day 1 while Hardee is in second.


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