Gudaf Tsegay Closes in 59.95 To Win Her 1st World Title In Women’s 5000

By LetsRun.com
July 23, 2022

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EUGENE, Ore. – Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay is at last an outdoor world champion.

The 25-year-old Ethiopian, who at 3:53.09 is the indoor 1500 world record holder and 9th fastest female metric miler in history, had always seen her path to glory in the 1500 blocked by the likes of Faith Kipyegon and Sifan Hassan. So last year she moved up to the 5000 in Tokyo where she earned a bronze. This year, she did the double and after winning silver in the 1500 behind Kipyegon, she earned the gold this evening in the women’s 5000 at the 2022 World Athletics Championships thanks to a 59.95 final 400 (29.68 final 200) that gave her the win in 14:46.29. 

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22-year-old Beatrice Chebet of Kenya, the 2018 world junior champ and 2022 African champ, took the silver in 14:46.75, as Ethiopia’s Dawit Seyaum, who won the world junior 1500 title on this track back in 2014, earned her first outdoor global medal as a pro in third in 14:47.36, just ahead of 10,000 bronze medallist Margaret Kipkemboi, who also won 5000 silver in 2019. Kipkemboi was 4th (14:47.41).

There were two big names in fifth and sixth. 5,000 and 10,000 world record holder Letesenbet Gidey, who alternated taking the lead for much of the race with Tsegay was never really in it for a medal on the last lap, but ended up fifth in 14:47.98 as 2021 Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 champ Sifan Hassan was sixth 14:48.12. Hassan gave it a good run however as Tsegay somehow let her make an inside pass with roughly 250 to go and she led until just before the final 100.

Elise Cranny was the top American in 9th in 14:59.99.

Photo © 2022 Kevin Morris

The race 

The pace was pedestrian for the first 1k (3:14.21) before Tsegay and Gidey started alternating laps but they never pushed it too hard until the bell. At the bell, it was a six-person race with Tsegay in the lead, but she shockingly let Hassan pass her on the inside with 250 to go, and as a result, had to run the turn on Hassan’s outside but in the end it didn’t matter.

The final 1600 was run in 4:32.79 (final 1500 of 4:14.59) with the final 800 run in 2:09.52. The final four laps leader-to-leader were 71.73, 71.56, 69.69 and 59.95. The km splits were as follows:

1k: 3:14.21
2k: 2:53.45 (6:07.56)
3k: 2:55.23 (9:02.79)
4k: 2:57.90 (12:00.69)
5k: 2:45.60 (14:46.29)

There were a number of Tigray flags in the stands during this race – the region which has been the center of a conflict in Ethiopia since November 2020 when the Ethiopian government launched an offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. (Both Tsegay and Gidey hail from the region). Immediately after the race, one man with a Tigray flag stormed the track and picked up Tsegay and Gidey before he was chased off the track and apprehended with security. There was later a loud protest as the fans marched around the concourse with flags and banners.

We spoke with the man afterwards, who said his name was Mearg Mekonen, a Tigray native now living in Texas. He said he was detained but not arrested and wanted to be a “voice for the voiceless” and spread awareness about what is happening in the Tigray region.

Quick Take: Tsegay would not have even been in this race if not for a late change in Ethiopia’s lineup

When Ethiopia first announced its team for the 2022 Worlds on June 13, Tsegay was listed in the 5000 and not the 1500. Then on July 5, Ethiopia announced an updated roster that listed Tsegay in both the 1500 and 5000, though it was understood that she would be the alternate in the 5000. However, after Tsegay’s strong run for silver in the 5000 and Ejgayehu Taye’s 6th-place finish in the 10,000, Ethiopia subbed in Tsegay for Taye (the 2022 world leader) at the last minute. Perhaps a bit stressful for the athletes but in this case, it produced the desired outcome.

Quick Take: The US has had very little success in the 5000 historically

The women’s 5000 has been run at global championships since 1995. Counting the Olympics, that means it’s been run 21 times. The highest any American has ever finished in the event in a global final is 6th (Molly Huddle 2013) and the US has only placed someone in the top 8 in 4 of those 21 competitions (and never in the Olympics).

US Women Top 8 in 5000 at Worlds
Molly Huddle 6th in 2013
Lauren Fleshman 7th in 2011
Jen Rhines 7th and Shalane Flanagan 8th in 2007
Libbie Hickman 7th in 1997

Today couldn’t have gone much worse for the Americans. Schweizer strained her calf with just over two laps to go and wound up dropping out and Infeld’s missed training between USAs and Worlds (she got COVID right after USAs) caught up to her as she was last in 14th. Cranny was with the lead pack of eight with two laps to go but could only close in 70.15 and wound up fading to 9th.

Quick Take: It’s worth wondering what the Kenyan champ Selah Busienei would have done in this race

It should be noted that Beatrice Chebet wasn’t the top woman at the Kenyan Trials. The winner of the Kenyan Trials in dominant fashion by 2.50 seconds in 15:05.23 was 30-year-old journeyman Selah Jepleting Busienei. Busienei, who has modest pbs of 2:01.17, 4:05.20, 8:42.01, and that 15:05.23 (her pb before that was 15:28.05) was left off the Kenyan team along with a number of top 3 finishers at the Kenyan Trials, presumably because they hadn’t done enough out-of-competition drug tests. She will compete at the Commonwealth Games. Kenya is listed under Category A on WADA’s list of nations on the watch for anti-doping violations which means all runners at Worlds have to have had at least three out-of-competition tests (blood and urine) in the 10 months prior to be eligible.

Full results and then post-race video interviews appear below.

POS
BIB
COUNTRY ATHLETE
MARK
1
642
ETH
14:46.29
2
896
KEN
14:46.75 SB
3
640
ETH
14:47.36
4
904
KEN
14:47.71 SB
5
636
ETH
14:47.98
6
951
NED
14:48.12 SB
7
891
KAZ
14:54.80
8
982
NOR
14:57.62
9
1150
USA
14:59.99
10
908
KEN
15:01.22
11
700
GBR
15:03.03
12
883
JPN
15:19.35
13
694
GBR
15:19.88
14
1173
USA
15:29.03
1203
USA
DNF

Post-Race Interviews

Gudaf Tsegay

(Letesenbet Gidey did not stop to talk to media)

Beatrice Chebet

Elise Cranny

Emily Infeld

The man who stormed the track

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