Beijing World Champs: Day One, Session One, Eritrean wins marathon gold, heptathlon battle starts, by Alex Mills


Smith_Scott-World15.JPgScott Smith, World Champs Marathon, photo by

Scott Smith will be able to tell his family that he beat a world record holder, former world record holder and several other top marathoners today. In a hot and humid race, the field negative splitted and Eritrean Ghirmay Ghebreslassie won in 2:12.27.

Alex Mills, one of our RunBlogRun features writers, will be writing up a short piece on each session over the next nine days. Here is his first piece. Alex arrived a couple days ago, but, after sleeping on the floor the first night in a friend's room, he now has a proper bed.

He is off to sleep in between the sessions, like many smart media people. It is all about the pacing.

Eritrea's Ghirmay Ghebreslassie was the big winner on the the opening morning of the IAAF world championships in Beijing, as the women's heptathlon kicked off in style and all main favourites safely made their way through the qualification rounds.

A superb final 10k from Ghebreslassie saw the teenager overcome his more fancied rivals to become the youngest ever winner of an Olympic or world marathon title.

In a race that saw a complete upturn of the pre-event predictions, with none of the four big name athletes even making the top five, it was the 19 year-old Ghebreslassie who withstood the test the time and the sweltering heat to claim his nation's first ever world championship gold medal in a time of 2:12.28. Behind him Yemane Tsegay of Ethiopia took second, with Solomon Munyo Mutai of Uganda third.

As they went through the first 5k in a pedestrian 16:06, it was clear that the race would be a tactical one and even more so when a pack of around 20 athletes went through halfway in 66.55.

Yet surprisingly it was Lesotho's Tsepo Mathibelle, who first made the big break at just before the 30k mark and the runner, who's PB is only 2:16, at one point stretched out a lead of 30 seconds.

However as he started to suffer the effects of a drinks stop mishap and fatigue, he was caught up by Ghebreslassie and Tsegay who then ensued to have their own two way battle for gold.

Eventually it was the teenager who broke away in the final 5K, to ease to victory but only after he had recovered from his confusion about the race route, a process in which he appeared to ask for directions despite there being a leading car.

After the race Ghebreslassie spoke to the IAAF: "I cannot explain what I am feeling. I am so happy. My gold medal is the first in Eritrean History. it is a very special thing for our history." he said. "My parent's wanted me to be a great student, but I wanted to be a great athlete. Today's victory will be a great surprise to them."

In the heptathlon it is a British one-two after two events with Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill who leading the standings on her return to major championship competition ahead of Katarina Johnson-Thompson. Having finished second in the 100 metre hurdles in 12.91s, Ennis-Hill cleared a season's best 1.86m in the high jump to finish the morning session with 2192 points 30 ahead of Johnson-Thompson, who recovered from her early event struggles to become the only athlete to jump over 1.89m.

Netherlands Nadine Visser is in third with 2131 having smashed her personal best to win the opening event in 12.81s, whilst pre-event favourite Brianne Theisen-Eaton currently lies in 5th position after only managing to clear 1.80m having earlier ran a PB 12.98 in the 100 metre hurdles.

Reigning champion Ezekiel Kemboi was the fastest qualifier in the men's 3000m steeple chase, winning his heat in 3:24.75 ahead of Brahim Taleb of Morocco. He was one of four Kenyan athletes to comfortably make it through, while three US athletes also made it to the final for the first time ever.

World record holder Genzebe Dibaba cruised through her 1500m heat winning in an impressive 4:02.59 from Kenya's Faith Kipyegon, with Besu Sado and Siffan Hassan also victorious.

Poland's Pawel Fajdek was the strongest performer in the men's hammer throw as only he and Great Britain's Nick Miller managed to throw over the automatic qualification standard of 77m.

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