This is Justin Lagat’s column on the second day of the Oregon 22 World Athletics Championships. Justin Lagat was, of course, fascinated with the women’s 10,000 meters.
In a dramatic finish to the women’s 10,000m final, Letesenbet Gidey connected her elbow with Hellen Obiri’s chest before emerging as the new world champion. She crossed the finish line first in a world-leading time of 30:09.94. Four runners had appeared to be in contention with less than 200m to go; Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, Kenya’s Obiri and Chelimo, and Ethiopia’s Gidey. At the homestretch, Gidey was slightly ahead of Obiri and Chelimo. The two then came strongly to challenge her from behind in what ended up in a close finish among the three. Obiri took home the silver medal in 30:10.02 ahead of Chelimo, who secured a bronze medal in 30:10.07, both Kenyans registering their new personal best times.
It was an epic race that saw a number of national records and personal best times registered behind the medalists.
Rahel Daniel of Eritrea, who was 5th ran a national record of 30:12.15. Kazakhstan’s Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui finished 7th, also a national record of 30:17.64, together with Stella Chesang who ran 31:01.04 to finish 14th in a new Ugandan national record.
The first 1000m of the race had been crossed in 3:04.80, then the 2000m in 6:08.84 as Ririka Hironaka of Japan did much of the pacing with Eilish McColgan just behind her. The pace quickened a bit as they went into the 3000m mark where they crossed it in 9:11.87.
After the first 5000m that had been controlled by Hironaka was crossed, a huge pack suddenly formed at the front. It was as though everyone was waiting for the halfway mark before making their move.
A trio of Ethiopians then stepped to the front 20 minutes into the race. Kenya’s Margaret Chelimo and Hellen Obiri hung just behind the Ethiopians, buying their time. Caroline Chepkurui of Kazakhstan was also there in the mix, with Sifan Hassan being tugged behind the entire pack of 9 that had broken away from the rest.
Obiri tested the field with about 1000m to go, but Gidey and Taye reacted, and she relaxed again into the pack, her time to make a move seemingly not ripe.
In the other exciting action on track, all the main protagonists made it to the finals in both the women’s 3000m steeplechase, where Norah Jeruto, Peruth Chemutai, Winfred Yavi, and Celliphine Chespol will be battling for the title.
Faith Kipyegon and Tsegay Gudaf also won their respective semi-finals in the women’s 1500m.
The climax of the day came in the men’s 100m final. It was a memorable moment for US fans. There was a fly past by two military planes just before the highly anticipated race started. The crowds were on their feet in great excitement as they waited for the special moment.
Seven runners had gone under 10 seconds in the heats, then four during the semi-finals. It was an indication of the great competition and the possibility of some fast times being run in the final.
From what didn’t look like a great start off the blocks, Fred Kerley fought his way powerfully to edge his fellow countrymen Marvin Bracy and Trayvon Bromell just before the finish line. 9.86 was the winning time, against 9.88 registered for both Bracy and Bromell in second and third, respectively. It was a great moment for the fans in the stadium as they cheered wildly.