22 AUG 2009 Report

Event Report - Women's 5000m - Final

Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya crosses the line to win the gold medal in the women's 5000m final at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics (Getty Images)Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya crosses the line to win the gold medal in the women's 5000m final at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics (Getty Images) © Copyright

Are we seeing a gradual shift in the power of women's distance running?

Like the 10,000m on the opening day of the championships it was Kenya and not Ethiopia who took gold as Vivian Cheruiyot led home a Kenyan one-two with Meseret Defar, the dethroned champion, taking only bronze.

Cheruiyot was simply too swift for the rest down the home straight as she out-kicked the opposition to win in 14:57.97 - the second slowest winning time in the history of the event at the World Championships.

Her compatriot Sylvia Kibet passed a fading Defar to snatch silver in 14:58.33 with Defar having to be satisfied with bronze 0.08 further back.

Vivian Cheruiyot became the first ever Kenyan athlete to lift this title and coming hot off the heels of her team-mate Linet Masai's triumph in the 10,000m it represents a major triumph for Kenya's women.

Ethiopia have been the dominant force in women's distance for more than a decade but this was the first time they have failed to win either a women's 5000m or 10,000m World Championship gold since 1997.

The bulk of the race - except perhaps the final stages - will not linger long in the memory, however.

Japan's Yurika Nakamura took the field through the first kilometre in 3:06.02 before Defar and then her countrywoman Sentayehu Ejigu took their turn at the front - the latter leading them through 2km in (6:11.04).

A phalanx of Kenyan and Ethiopian runners were prominent for much of the second half of the race but the pace was modest. Cheruiyot and her team-mates Kibet and Iness Chenonge all took a turn at the front but an illustration of the far from scintillating speed at the front was the fact with four laps remaining all the field - bar Hungary's Krisztina Papp who was out the back of the field - were still bunched together.

Cheruyiot chose to control the race from the front and with 800m left she led her two Kenyan team-mates, four Ethiopians - Defar, Ejigu, Genzebe Defar and Meselech Melkamu, the World 10,000m silver medallist, with the one non-African Sara Moreira of Portugal in a lead group of eight.

In was still Cheruiyot at the bell when, predictably, the fireworks began. The long-time leader as well as Defar and Kibet kicked well clear of the remainder and it was obvious with 250m left the battle for the medals would be determined between the trio.

Defar loomed on Cheruiyot's shoulder around the final bend and by the time the 2007 World Champion entered the home straight she held a two metre lead.

However, this was not to be the Defar of old who so often regularly extended her advantage. No, she took a concerned glance behind and for her it was to be 'groundhog day' and a virtual repeat of what happened in the 10,000m final on the opening night of the championships.

On that occasion she looked favoured to win coming off the final bend but faded to fifth.

Tonight Cheruiyot, the 2007 World silver medallist, would not be denied and slowly closed the gap on the Ethiopian. With 40m remaining the Kenyan edged ahead and Defar could not respond. It was Cheruyiot, who stands at just 1.55m tall, who was to be crowned champion.

A demoralised Defar slowed towards the line and Kibet, who had finished an agonising fourth in the 2007 World and 2008 Olympic finals, just pipped the Ethiopian for the sweetest of silvers.

Some way behind the three medallists, Sentayehu Ejigu of Ethiopia took fourth in 15:03.38 with her countrywoman Melkamu fifth in 15:03.72. The third of the Kenyans Iness Chenonge took sixth in 15:06.06. The top non-African was Italy's Silvia Weissteiner, who was seventh in a season's best of 15:09.74.

Steve Landells for the IAAF