Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia looked as if he had left himself open to defeat in the 5000 metres, by doing the majority of the leading at too leisurely a pace, on the final, Day Nine of the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics.
But Bekele obviously wanted to do it the hard way. He didn’t even try to wind it up with a kilometre to go, but left it ‘til the last lap, even the final 200 metres.
Defending champion, and most experienced man in the field, Bernard Lagat had run cannily, and was poised on Bekele’s shoulder, with half a lap left. Lagat duly kicked past into the straight, but Bekele was equal to the challenge, and eased away to victory in 13:17.09, punching the air in an unprecedented display of satisfaction as he crossed the line. He had run the last lap in 53.81sec, and added the 5000m title to the 10,000m gold he won earlier in the week, the first man in championships history to double. Lagat won silver, to go with his 1500m bronze, in 13:17.33, and bronze went to James Kwalia Chepkirui of Qatar, in 13:17.78.
The night before the women’s 1500 metres final, my esteemed colleague Santiago Segurola of Spain’s Marca newspaper confidently told me that Natalia Rodriguez would win. Well, Rodriguez crossed the line first, but having shunted co-favourite Gelete Burka of Ethiopia to the ground with 200 metres to run, the Spaniard was justly disqualified.
Prior to that, Burka had been running the most courageous race this writer has ever seen from an Ethiopian woman. Normally content to follow and kick, of Tulu, Wami, Dibaba, et al, Burka had laid it on the line with 650 metres to go. After a hesitant opening lap from all the favourites, Burka took over then kicked from the front. With 200 to go, she had four detached from the pack behind her, but Rodriguez chose to go through her, since the inside option wasn’t available.
Defending champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal of Bahrain took the initiative, followed by Britain’s Lisa Dobriskey, with Rodriguez quickly making inroads, and Burka getting up into around eighth place. Rodriguez was strongest in the straight, and Jamal just managed to hold off Dobriskey. In the event, Jamal had successfully defended her title, by just one hundredth of a second from Dobriskey, with Shannon Rowberry of the USA third. And brave Burka was left to rue her lot.
In the women’s Marathon, held earlier in the day through the city centre, the favourites gradually fell away (literally in the case of Dire Tune) from a large group at 25 kilometres, when Nailiya Yulamanova of Russia put in a lengthy surge. Within five kilometres, she only had Bai Xue of China, Yoshimi Ozaki of Japan, and Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia for company. But at a drinks station, the Russian slowed drastically, and started jogging, clutching her stomach. She eventually finished eighth.
Olympic bronze medallist Zhou Chunxiu of China began a late surge, and came within 100 metres of the leading trio before they broke up with two kilometres to run, with coincidentally a run for home by her colleague, Bai. It was good enough to get rid of first Mergia then Ozaki. Bai won in 2:25.15, with Ozaki taking silver with 2.25.25, and Mergia the bronze in 2:25.32.
China won the World Marathon Cup team competition, with Japan in second and Russia, third.
South Africa’s Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, the oldest man in the men’s field won the 800m in 1:45.29. Off at a slow pace, partly due to ten men contesting the final, Mulaudzi made the break on the final bend, and hung on to beat fast finishing defending champion Alfred Yego of Kenya, who took silver, and 1500 metres winner, Yusuf Saad Kamel of Bahrain, who took bronze, though both ran 1:45.45. Mulaudzi emphasised his advantage with a dip finish worthy of a sprinter, then crashed to the ground whence he issued an enormous victory roar.
Men’s Javelin Throw
With a mighty throw of 89.59 metres on his second attempt in the Javelin Throw, Andreas Thorkildsen achieved something that even the great Jan Zelezny never did. The Norwegian became Olympic, World and European champion concurrently. Thorkildsen was never really threatened after that throw.
Guillermo Martinez of Cuba briefly led with his 83.43m in round one, and underwrote the silver medal with 86.41 metres on his final attempt. Yukifumi Murakami of Japan, a surprise qualifier with a PB of 83.10, produced another surprise with his bronze, 82.97 metres. It is the first Javelin medal in either Olympic or World Championships history for a Japanese, man or woman. After a 81.90 metres first throw, defending champion Tero Pitkämäki of Finland, who has had a high temperature this week and was in hospital this morning for an ear infection, was never in the hunt for a medal, ending up in fifth.
Women’s Long Jump
Coming into the women’s Long Jump final, Britney Reese of the USA led the world with the only seven metres plus jump of the year. Although an opening jump of 6.92 metres looked to have given her a serious option on gold, she didn’t have things all her own way. The indefatigable defending champion, Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia (also Triple Jump winner in 2001/3) topped that with 6.97 metres in the next round. But a four centimetre improvement on her year’s leading mark, to 7.10 metres for Reese in round three settled affairs. Lebedeva won another silver and bronze went to Karin Mey Melis of Turkey, with 6.80 metres.
The final events, the 4x400 metres Relays went to form, with the USA squad winning both easily, the men’s in 2.57.86, and the women’s in 3.17.83. There was more excitement over the scramble for the other medals, with Shericka Williams of Jamaica overtaking Antonina Krivoshapka of Russia on the final leg to win the women’s race for silver; while Martin Rooney of Great Britain rebuffed the challenge of Australia’s Steve Wroe, to win silver, also by a margin of less than half a second.
HERE ENDETH THE 12th IAAF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS IN ATHLETICS 2009
Pat Butcher for the IAAF
SPECTATORS NUMBERS - Olympic stadium - Berlin 2009
NOTE: stadium is 56,000 ticket capacity PLUS members of the IAAF family and some volunteers.
Sun 23 Aug, Day 9
NOTE - Morning - Women's Marathon in city centre; no competition in stadium
Sat 22 Aug, Day 8
NOTE - Morning - Men's Marathon in city centre; no competition in stadium
Fri 21 Aug, Day 7
NOTE - Morning - 50km Race Walk in city centre; no competition in stadium
Thu 20 Aug, Day 6:
Overall TOTAL - 90,451
Wed 19 Aug, Day 5:
Overall TOTAL - 52,470
Morning - 20,312
Evening - 32,158
TUE 18 Aug, Day 4:
Overall TOTAL - 49,848
Morning - 19,951
Evening - 29,897
MON 17 Aug, Day 3:
NOTE - No morning session was held
TOTAL - 30,496 (evening only)
SUN 16 Aug, Day 2:
Overall TOTAL - 74,413
Morning - 23,300
Evening - 51,113
SAT 15 Aug, Day 1:
Overall TOTAL: 67,846