Kenya's Gladys Cherono Wins Silver Medal in Women's 10,000m, by Justin Lagat

The women's 10,000 meters was a tremendous race last night. Tirunesh Dibaba, aka the baby faced destroyer, unleashed her formidable kick over the last 300 meters and the race for gold was over. In fact, most believe it was never in question. In those circumstances, Justin Lagat's joy over Gladys Cherono running so well is understandable.

Here is how Justin Lagat saw the women's 10,000 meters: 

Can anyone defeat Tirunesh Dibaba? 
photo by, from Paris DL 2013

During the last world championships in Daegu, on the first day,  the women's 10,000m race yielded one of the most memorable and wonderful moments for Kenya when all the our athletes from the country took the first four positions: Vivian Cheruiyot  taking gold, Sally Kipyego Silver, Linet Maasai bronze and Priscah Jepleting finishing in fourth position. None of these athletes was able to make it to represent the country again this year after Vivian Cheruiyot and Sally Kipyego failed to turn up for the trials because one was on a maternity break while the other had an injury. Linet Maasai turned up for the trials but was defeated there by new athletes where she finished in fifth place.

The Ethiopian team led by Tirunesh Dibaba appeared to be a formidable one and all that a Kenyan fan could realistically hope for in this race was a silver or a bronze medal. Beating Dibaba was almost out of the question.

Most of the time during championship races, the pace always start slowly in the long distance races but, this time round, Shalane Flanagan ensured that it started in a relatively fast pace. Being an experienced runner, the rest of the group could not let her open a big gap. It looked as though she was about to try and replicate the front running strategy that Valeria Straneo of Italy had employed yesterday during the women's marathon. The first 1000m was crossed in 3:07, then the 2000m in 6:13 with Shalane still on the lead up to the 2600m point when Niiya of Japan stepped in front and increased the pace a little.

Niiya's faster pace reduced the field to just eight athletes at the lead, all running in a single file. There were two Ethiopians in second and third places, three Kenyans in fourth, fifth and sixth places, a Bahrain in seventh place and Shalane in eight place.
Shalane began to lose ground after 5400m which was crossed in17:20. Niiya was still on the lead with the other six athletes behind her still maintaining their positions. They crossed the 6000m point in 18:35 and Eshete of Bahrain began to slowly slip from the group.

It was down to five athletes after crossing 7600m in 23:34. Niiya was still on the lead, followed by Tirunesh and Oljira. Two Kenyans, Cherono and Chebet, were hanging on at the back of the group. Any Kenyan fan at that time was wondering who, in the three leading athletes, was going to give up and let a Kenyan get into the medal bracket.

Although running slightly behind Niiya, Tirunesh Dibaba was leaning at a strategic point closer to the outside lane as though awaiting any reaction from the other athletes behind her in order to pass the Japanese and increase the pace, but no one reacted. It was not until they approached the bell when Dibaba finally made the move, followed by her compatriot. The two Kenyan athletes reacted too and all ran past Niiya. It was Cherono who looked more energetic between the two Kenyans as she managed to cut in between the Ethiopians in the remaining 300m. Tirunesh's finishing kick was as devastating as usual and she kept opening a gap between her and Cherono until she crossed the finish line in 30:43.35. Cherono followed in 30:45.17. The third place was a very close finish between Ethiopia's Belaynesh Oljira and Kenya's Emily Chebet as they finished in 30:46.98 and 30:47.02 respectively.

With the absence of Vivian Cheruiyot, Sally Kipyego and Linet Maasai in this race, a silver medal is such a great win for Kenya

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