Less than hour after the final curtain was drawn on the era of the World Athletics Final, Meseret Defar underscored her role as one of the finest competitors of the season-capping two-day meet. After ensuring that the pace would be honest, the Ethiopian kicked home to victory in the 3000m to collect her ninth WAF title.
A day after winning a tactical 5000m contest with long-time rival Tirunesh Dibaba, Defar nabbed her sixth straight WAF 3000m title in fine style, clocking a world-leading 8:30.15 and in the process defend her double WAF titles.
“I expected a faster race,” said Defar, something in the range of 8:25, “but I tied my shoe tighter than usual and that caused problems with my stride.”
It didn’t show.
The 2004 Olympic 5000m champion took control of the lead early on, bringing the pack through the first 1000 metres in just over 2:50. Hoping the run the kick out of Defar’s legs, Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot, who defeated Defar in the World Championships 5000m last month, took her turn with the lead some five minutes into the race. But she had no response when Defar took control for good off the final turn. It was a close battle until about 40 metres remained, but Cheruiyot was finished, and the victory Defar’s.
Cheruiyot reached the line in 8:30.61, a season’s best with Ethiopian Wude Ayalew third in 8:30.93. A little further back, Kenyan Iness Chenonge, who was still in contention with 800 metres remaining, was fourth, her 8:37.17 also a career best. Likewise for Ethiopian Lakidan Gezahegne who was fifth in 8:38.61.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF