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Posted: August 27, 2023:  

(RRW) Athletics: With Blistering Close, Ingebrigtsen Successfully Defends World 5000m Title

From David Monti, @d9monti
© 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved.

BUDAPEST (27-Aug) -- Coming off of his defeat in the 1500m by Britain's Josh Kerr, Norway's Jakob Ingebrigtsen was ready to give his all tonight at the National Athletics Center to retain the World Athletics 5000m title he won in Eugene a year ago. Ingebrigtsen, 22, a once in a generation talent who was still feeling some fatigue from the shorter race, didn't want to waste an ounce of energy.

PHOTO: Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway just edges Mohamed Katir of Spain to win the men's 5000m title at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

"I was very tired," he told the flash quotes team here. "I tried to save my energy to win at the end because that was the only way tonight."

It literally took everything he had to stop a brutal, last-lap assault by Spain's Mohamed Katir, the 2022 World Championships 1500m bronze medalist. Fueled by the bitter disappointment of not even making the 1500m final here, Katir rolled through the penultimate lap in a hot 58.6 seconds, before unleashing a full-out, 400-meter sprint for the win. Katir, who has a 1500m personal best of 3:28.76, blasted down the backstretch as the near-capacity crowd roared. Ingebrigtsen, who spent most of the race running in the middle of the pack, passed both Hagos Gebrhiwet and Berihu Aregawi of Ethiopia and began to home in on Katir. He reached the Spaniard's shoulder in the final bend and the two began a drag race for the ages.

"I knew if my tactics were better than my competitors, I would have a chance to win," Ingebrigtsen continued. "And that's what happened."

But only by the slimmest of margins. The two remained side by side, Katir on the inside and Ingebrigtsen on the outside, right to the line where the Norwegian pushed past his rival by just 14/100ths of a second, 13:11.30 to 13:11.44. The last lap went in a sizzling 52.6 seconds.

"It worked out absolutely perfectly," Ingebrigtsen said. "It was a very hard run, especially in the last 40 to 50 meters. It was great racing."

Katir was gracious in defeat.

"Jakob is a great competitor," Katir told reporters through a translator from the Spanish team. "He's a great champion. I fight until the last moment to beat him. I tried to do it until the last line, but he was very strong. I respect him a lot, but I will try to beat him next year (at the Olympics)."

Behind the fireworks at the front, Kenya's Jacob Krop, the silver medalist from Eugene, got the bronze in 13:12.28. He was nearly caught by Guatemala's Luis Grijalva, but the former NCAA star for Northern Arizona University ran out of real estate and finished 22/100ths behind.

"I am still only 22 so to get two medals from the World Championships is a big honor," Krop told the flash quotes team. "I do not think this bronze after the silver in Eugene is a step down. I am still among the top runners in the 5000."

The usually effusive Grijalva chose not to speak with the media.

Moraa Wins Fast Women's 800 Meters

PHOTO: Mary Moraa of Kenya wins the women's 800m at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

The women's 800m final featured a tantalizing head-to-head match-up between the 2021 Olympic and 2022 World Championships gold and silver medalists, Athing Mu of the USA and Keely Hodgkinson of Great Britain. But neither athlete came away with victory, their party spoiled by Kenya's Mary Moraa, last summer's surprise bronze medalist in Eugene.

Moraa, 23, a former 400-meter runner with a 50.38 personal best, ran a race that was both fast and smart. She relaxed in the first 200 meters when Mu took it out fast in 26.6 seconds. She joined Mu in the lead at 400 meters (56.1) while Hodgkinson and her British teammate, Jemma Reekie, ran a few steps behind. In her semi-final, Mu had gotten tangled with another competitor and nearly fell. So tonight she wanted to be in front.

"I dang near almost didn't make the final," Mu told reporters. "And from that race I was like, I'm not going to put myself in that position again."

Mu was still leading at 600m (1:26.3), but both Moraa and Hodgkinson were right on her tail. As the trio came out of the final bend, Moraa went outside of Mu and Hodgkinson went inside, both passing the reigning USA champion. Moraa literally leaped over the finish line, stopping the clock at 1:56.03, a personal best. Hodgkinson crossed next in 1:56.34 with Mu third in a season's best 1:56.61. Mu's USA teammate Raevyn Rogers finished fourth in a season's best 1:57.45, moving up two places from Eugene last year.

"It was a big surprise to me; I was not expecting to get the gold," Moraa told a group of Kenyan journalists. She added: "I'm so happy."

Hodgkinson was satisfied, but still disappointed. She beat Mu in a big championships, but was still the silver medalist.

"I knew it was going to be tough; there was a million different ways that race could have gone," Hodgkinson said. She added: "(I'll) just keep training hard and one day I'll come out on top."

Mu seemed more relieved by her result. Still just 21, she said that people often forget that an athlete's career trajectory is rarely straight up.

"I'm super young," Mu reminded reporters. "I've done a lot of great things starting at 19. I'm definitely evolving as an athlete because every year you're going to learn something new, you're going to go through something different." She added: "Every year's not going to be the same."

For her part, Rogers saw the race as more evidence that she's one of the world's best, even if she didn't win a medal.

"It was a great race to be a part of," she told Race Results Weekly. "I ran a season's best. I'm ready to finish out the season strong."

Yavi Gets Historic Steeplechase Win

PHOTO: Winfred Yavi of Bahrain battles for the win of the 3000m steeplechase at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

The women's steeplechase has only been contested at the World Athletics Championships since 2005, and no woman from Bahrain has ever won a medal.

Until tonight.

Winfred Mutile Yavi, a 23 year-old former Kenyan, changed all that by dominating the last 500 meters of tonight's women's steeplechase final to win by a healthy four seconds in a world-leading 8:54.29. She beat Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech, the 2019 world champion, who was timed in 8:58.98. Kenya's Faith Cherotich --who is only 19 years-old and looks even younger-- got the bronze in a personal best 9:00.69.

"Oh my God, I just found out that this is the fourth-fastest race in history," Yavi told the flash quotes team. "I am really excited about that. It was a fast race, but I did not realize it was that fast."

Chepkoech, 32, led most of the race, splitting 1000m in 2:59.9 and 2000m in 5:57.8. Yavi was close behind at the 2-K split, but didn't pull ahead until after 2500 meters.

"I knew I would have the power on the last lap," Yavi continued. "It was perfect. I have never felt like this before."

Chepkoech was pleased with her run, explaining that she struggled with injuries in 2022 after taking seventh in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics where she was managing a lower back problem.

"I'm not disappointed because I was out for the last two years dealing with injuries, so I was happy with the silver medal," Chepkoech told Race Results Weekly. "Just coming back after two years is not something easy. You know in the Olympics I was having a lower back problem, and then hamstring. Then last year, I was having stress fracture one month before world championship. It put me out."

As these 19th World Athletics Championships closed here tonight the local organizing committee was showered with praise at a press conference today by World Athletics president Sebastian Coe. He appreciated both the brand new National Athletics Center, the professional organization, and the large and enthusiastic crowds.

"I can't remember a better atmosphere at a world championships," Coe told reporters. "These have been a truly great championships."

The 20th World Athletics Championships will be held in Tokyo from September 13 to 21, 2025.

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