2011 IAAF World Championships Women's 10,000 Preview
August 25, 2011
The women's 10,000 is going to be a real treat for distance fans.
Can it get any better than two people who are undefeated on the track in 2011 clashing? Yes, it can.
The race features Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot, who won the 5,000 world title in 2009 and is in supreme form this year (after capturing the World Cross title in March, she has gone undefeated on the track in 2011 - including a fantastic 14:20.87 national record in Stockholm) versus Meseret Defar of Ethiopia, who while a little less noticed so far this year is also undefeated on the track in 2009, including a 14:29.52 5,000.
But in addition to those two, it also features the 2009 world champion in Kenya's Linet Masai, as well as 2009 silver medallist Meselech Melkamu of Ethiopia, who would have won in 2009 had she not celebrated too early, plus former NCAA star Sally Kipyego (Texas Tech) and American record holder Shalane Flanagan.
It truly could be a very special race indeed.
That being said, it's going to be hard to surpass what happened in 2009. If you don't remember, we highly encourage you read what happened in women's 10,000 in 2009 here. The 10,000 in 2009 was truly a bizarre race, as the race basically turned into a 5-way sprint over 400 for the title, during which heavy favorite Meseret Defar totally tied up in the last 50 meters and went from a commanding first to fifth before Melkamu saw victory escape her when she celebrated just before the line.
The fortunate winner in 2009 was Masai, who was just 19 at the time. She was far from the favorite then and she is far from the favorite now. Given the form she showed in running 14:20 in Stockholm, the favorite has to be Vivian Cheruiyot. That being said, maybe not being the favorite is a good thing for Masai, as she was the favorite heading into World Cross this year but came away with just the silver. And Defar should not be discounted. In 2009, she was the big favorite thanks to her 29:59 clocking earlier in the year. Undoubtedly it's been hard for her to forget how she coughed up a big lead in 2009 but in 2011 she can run as the hunter and not the hunted. That makes a big difference.
As for the two Oregon-based runners in Kipyego and Flanagan, we don't expect them to be in the mix for the gold, but they could steal a bronze if one of the bigger names blows up after going for gold. That's exactly how Flanagan got her bronze in 2008, so it's certainly a possibility, but considering Kipyego has consistently dispatched of Flanagan time and again this year, it seems very unlikely that Flanagan would medal. 2007 World Championships bronze medallist Kara Goucher of the US also in the race, but she's comign back from pregnancy and recently missed time with a stress reaction. Goucher thinks she hasn't lost fitness but we just think she's going to be very hard-pressed to be in the hunt late, although weirder things have happened in the history of sports.
1) Cheruiyot - A year from now, she probably will be viewed world-wide as one of the greatest female distance runners in history.
2) Defar - She seemingly always is overshadowed by a true great whether it be Dibaba or now Cheruiyot.
Barring a couple of big name dropouts, it's hard to see Flanagan or Goucher cracking the top 5.
Parting Quick Thought #1: Melkamu has only run 14:39 this year but it's hard to judge her fitness as she hasn't raced since finishing 4th in Oslo on June 9th.
Parting Quick Thought #2: If you are playing in our prediction contest, please change your picks as we didn't list Defar as an entrant. So if you want her, pick "other."