Bai women's marathon world champion; Goucher, Davila 10th and 11th; Rowbury 1500m bronze medal
By Parker Morse, Running USA wire
BERLIN - (August 23, 2009) - Xue Bai of China and Kenenisa Bekele won World Championship titles in the women's marathon and men's 5000 meters, respectively, on the last day of competition at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
Bai's marathon win, a first for China at the World Championships, also led a Chinese team which won the Marathon World Cup, a competition held concurrently with the marathon at the World Championships. Chinese marathoners finished first, fourth and fifth for a cumulative time of 7:17:02.
The women's marathon, like the men's, was run as four laps of a 10K course around the historic landmarks of Berlin's city center, starting and finishing at the Brandenburg Gate under the "quadriga", a statue of Winged Victory in a four-horse chariot. The statue was a welcome sight for Bai, who only took the lead for good at the 41st kilometer marker after a late-race duel with Japan's Yoshimi Ozaki.
Along with Ethiopia's Aselefech Mergia, Bai and Ozaki had been part of a breakaway lead by Russia's Nailiya Yulamanova at the beginning of the fourth lap. On the warm day (temperatures at the start were reported as 19C / 66F at the start and 23C / 73F at the finish), Yulamanova fell victim to stomach distress after a fluid station, and Mergia was dropped by Bai and Ozaki before the pair started on the short spur around the Alexanderplatz which gave the fourth lap the extra distance needed to reach the 42.195K / 26.2 mile marathon distance.
Bai, only 20 years old but reportedly already a marathon veteran, finished in 2 hours, 25 minutes, 15 seconds, just ten seconds ahead of Ozaki and 17 seconds ahead of Meriga. Her older teammate, former London Marathon champion and 2007 World Championships silver medalist Chunxiu Zhou, was a hard-charging fourth in 2:25:39, seven seconds behind Meriga.
Second place in the World Cup went to Japan, with Russia and Ethiopia following.
A strong U.S. team figured in the team standings as well, led by 2008 Olympian Kara Goucher, who ran with the lead pack through 30K but, like Yulamanova, had difficulties keeping down her fluids on a warm day. Goucher finished 10th in 2:27:48 and was followed by a big PR from Desireé Davila, 2:27:53 for 11th. Tera Moody finished 28th in 2:36:39 to round out the scoring - 5th, the best U.S. women's place at the World Championships; the team also included Paige Higgins (30th in 2:37:11) and Zoila Gomez (51st in 2:42:49).
Bekele made history by unseating defending champion Bernard Lagat in the 5000 meters to become the first man to win both the 5000m and 10,000m at the same World Championships, a feat never accomplished by his hero and Ethiopian countryman Haile Gebrselassie.
Unlike his 10,000m victory the previous weekend, where he allowed others to set the pace and only took the lead in the last lap, in the shorter race, Bekele, 27, led from the first lap and dictated the entire race. Starting with a relaxed 2:20 first 800 meters, Bekele gradually picked up the pace until he was approaching top speed on the final lap, removing much of the sting from the closing speed of known kickers like Lagat.
Despite as many as a dozen athletes remaining in contention until the closing lap, Bekele was never headed. Lagat attempted to close with him in the final stretch but was unable to better Bekele's speed, and he was almost overtaken by Qatar's James C'Kurui. Bekele's winning time was 13:17.09 to Lagat's 13:17.33, with C'Kurui at 13:17.78.
"I was determined to not let Bekele leave me. When he moved, I moved. In the last lap, they started going hard. With 80 to go, he went, and I passed him with 50 to go. He came back at me with 40 to go, and we struggled over 20 meters. I gave it all I had today," said Lagat, a two-time Olympic medalist at 1500 meters.
In addition to Lagat, Team USA saw both Matt Tegenkamp and Chris Solinsky, former Wisconsin teammates now training near Portland, Ore., in the final. Both athletes were in range until the final lap, but Tegenkamp, fourth in the Osaka final that Lagat won, found himself only eighth here in Berlin with a 13:20.23; Solinsky, after shadowing Bekele for much of the race, was 12th in 13:25.87.
Lagat's two medals on the week (he also won bronze in the men's 1500m on Wednesday) weren't Team USA's only distance medals of the Championship, as Shannon Rowbury also picked up bronze at 1500m. Unfortunately, Rowbury's medal came only after the apparent winner of the women's 1500m final, Spain's Natalia Rodriguez, was disqualified for interfering with Ethiopia's Gelete Burka.
With 200 meters to go, Rodriguez thought she had a clear path to pass Burka on the inside, but when she attempted the pass, Burka went down, finally finishing last in 4:11.21. Rodriguez was roundly jeered by the packed stadium at the Olympiastadion, and left the track without taking a lap of honor; when she was disqualified, the gold went instead to defending champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain, thus giving Bahrain both 1500 titles as Yusuf Saad Kamel had won the men's earlier in the week. Lisa Dobriskey of Great Britain was advanced to silver, and Rowbury, who had been one of the five who had separated from the pack at the finish, was promoted to bronze, but Burka could not be given back her race.
Overall, Team USA won more gold medals than any other country (10) and Team USA also took home more medals than any other country (22).
IAAF Track & Field World Championships
Berlin, GER, Sunday, August 23, 2009
MEN'S 5000 Meters
1) Kenenisa Bekele (ETH), 13:17.09, Gold
2) Bernard Lagat (USA), 13:17.33, Silver
3) James C'Kurui (QAT), 13:17.78, Bronze
4) Moses Kipsiro (UGA), 13:18.11
5) Eliud Kipchoge (KEN), 13:18.95
6) Ali Abdosh (ETH), 13:19.11
7) Mohammed Farah (GBR), 13:19.69
8) Matt Tegenkamp (USA), 13:20.23
9) Vincent Chepkok (KEN), 13:21.31
10) Jesús España (ESP), 13:22.07
12) Chris Solinsky (USA), 13:25.87
1) Xue Bai (CHN), 2:25:15, Gold
2) Yoshimi Ozaki (JPN), 2:25:25, Silver
3) Aselefech Mergia (ETH), 2:25:32, Bronze
4) Chunxiu Zhou (CHN), 2:25:39
5) Xiaolin Zhu (CHN), 2:26:08
6) Marisa Barros (POR), 2:26:50
7) Yuri Kano (JPN), 2:26:57
8) Nailiya Yulamanova (RUS), 2:27:08
9) Alevtina Biktimirova (RUS), 2:27:39
10) Kara Goucher (USA), 2:27:48
11) Desireé Davila (USA), 2:27:53
28) Tera Moody (USA), 2:36:39
30) Paige Higgins (USA), 2:37:11
51) Zoila Gómez (USA), 2:42:49
World Cup Team Competition
1) China, 7:17:02
2) Japan, 7:22:15
3) Russia, 7:24:42
5) USA, 7:32:20
9 scoring teams (top 3 by total time)
WC results, photos, and more at: Berlin.IAAF.org.