It's a men’s 10,000m race in a major championships and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele wins in a sprint finish: sounds familiar?
Well actually it does, but it still did happen again here in Berlin like it has happened in every major championships race since his first World Championships 10,000m contest since Paris 2003. In fact the 27-year-old is yet to lose in a 10,000m competition in his career with 12 wins in 12 races.
Bekele has now won an improbable four consecutive titles in this event starting with Paris 2003 which he won in 26:49.57, a championship record which stood until today.
To capture his 15th World title the Ethiopian did what he usually does, just follow the others and then took what is his in the last lap which he covered in a quick 57.4 seconds to set a 26:46.31 competition record and 2009 world leading time.
The race started with Eritrean Zersenay Tadesse sprinting to the front and covering the first 200 metres in a quick 28 seconds. Tadesse remained in the front to reach 400m in 65 seconds, but after that the pace slow down a bit with Qatari Nicholas Kemboi moving to the lead. The 25-year-old lead the group through 1000 metres in 2:46.24, 2000m in 5:34.05, 3000m in 8:19.55 and 4000m in 11:04.75. But with the pace being somewhat slow something was bound to happen. Just a few moments after the 4000m mark Tadesse moved to the front again.
The fifth kilometre was already a bit faster, but Kenyan Moses Masai taking the lead before 5000m, reached the halfway in only 13:40.36 which promised a fast finish as many of the runners were capable of a much faster time than the projected 27:20. Just a few metres after the 5000m Tadesse took the lead and this time with a purpose.
Runners started dropping off the leading group and at 6000 metres there were only four. Tadesse still in the lead group of four, reached the 6000m split in 16:18.57 covering the last kilometre in 2:38.98. Masai, Bekele and another Kenyan Micah Kogo followed closely and Tadesse clocked 18:57.73 at 7000m for another fast 2:38.98 km. Kogo was dropped off the group at 7800m with the Eritrean still in the lead after 8000m in 21:37.80.
With about 150m later Tadesse kicked again increasing speed and now Masai was done just 50 metres later leaving only the leader and Bekele fighting for the gold medal. All the way close up pictures had suggested Bekele had absolutely no trouble keeping up with the pace, but now Tadesse started to look a bit tired with Bekele still at ease. The pair passed 9000m in 24:13.73 for a fast 2:35.93 km with Masai already well behind and Tadesse still leading.
The Eritrean lead at the bell, but then Bekele did his trick again just 10 metres into the last lap, sprinting past Tadesse and quickly moving out of his reach to win another World title clocking, a 2:32.48 last kilometre in the process. Counting from Masai’s 5000m split the second half in the race went in an incredible 13:05.95, but of course Bekele was a bit further down the pack so he would have been a bit faster than this time shows. The finishing time 26:46.31 is also fifth fastest in Bekele's career which contains 12 victories and an extraordinary sub-27 minute race because of the slow first half.
Tadesse finished second capturing the silver in 26:50.12, a season’s best and second fastest in the world this season. This was also the Eritrean’s first World Championships medal in the 10,000m with third try. He was sixth in 2005 and fourth in 2007 and won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics. Moses Masai also finished well recording a season’s best as well, 26:57.39 in his first World Champs 10,000m race. The Kenyan was fourth in Beijing Olympics.
In race where 14 first runners set either a personal or season’s best Ethiopian Imane Merga was fourth in 27:15.94 PB with Kenyan Bernard Kipyego fifth in 27:18.47. American Dathan Ritzenhein, who has also run a few marathons including a 2:10:00 PB this season, set a personal best 27:22.28 for sixth place with Micah Kogo dropping down to seventh in 27:26.33. Another American Galen Rupp was eighth in 27:37.99 to give United States a surprising two in the top eight.
A few top names fell back surprisingly early and these included Eritrean Kidane Tadesse who was ninth in 27:41.50 and Ethiopian Gebregziabher Gebremariam who finished in 10th place clocking 27:44.04. Early leader Nicholas Kemboi did not finish race and was Ethiopian Abebe Dinkesa and Collis Birmingham of Australia who set the Oceanian record earlier this season.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF