Bekele defends 10,000m title in record fashion, as American Ritzenhein places sixth with a new personal best.
Day three of the world track and field championships in Berlin culminated in three finals, including the highly anticipated men’s 10,000m.
In the men’s 10,000m it was Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele looking to take his sixth consecutive world or Olympic title. Bekele was the odds-on favorite going in to the race, but his top African rivals conceded nothing to him. Bekele, along with Eritrian Zersenay Tadese and Kenyans Moses Masai and Micah Kogo took, control of the race at approximately 7,000m and never looked back. It was Tadese who really pushed the pace to gap the field. The former world cross country champion continued to grind it out over the next three kilometers, lapping multiple athletes in the process.
The only other runner able to hold on to the surging Tadese was the incomparable Bekele, who looked relaxed in covering each move by the tiny Eritrian. Bekele waited until 400m to go and unleashed his patented kick to outdistance Tadese and set a new championship record of 26:46.31. Tadese would fade just a bit over the final lap to finish second in 26:50.12 followed by Masai in 26:57.39.
In the closing laps, American and Competitor.com blogger Dathan Ritzenhein found himself catching some members of the early breakaway, including Olympic medalist Kogo, finishing in sixth place with a new personal best 27:22.28. Ritz is now ranked number four all-time on the American list, trailing only Meb Keflezighi, Abdi Abdirahman and Mark Nenow. Fellow American and Oregon Project teammate Galen Rupp finished a very respectable eighth (27:37.99) and Tim Nelson rounded out the US contingent in 17th place (28:18.04).
Barringer Sets American Record
In the women’s 3000m steeplechase it was a showdown between the Russians, Kenyans and former 5000m specialist Marta Dominguez of Spain. World record holder Gulnara Galkina of Russia was happy to take the lead early on, but was followed closely by the field. American hopeful Jenny Barringer looked sluggish early on, hanging back at around 10th place through most of the race. As the leaders hit the final lap there were five women in contention for a medal, including Russians Galkina and Yuliya Zarudneva, Kenyan Milacah Cheywa, Habiba Ghribi of Tunisia and Dominguez of Spain. Dominguez took the final barrier in stride, outdistancing Zarudneva to take the win with a new national record 9:07.32. Zarudneva proved strong over the last water jump, finishing in a personal best 9:08.39, and Cheywa hung on for bronze in 9:08.57. American Jenny Barringer came on strong over the final lap to finish fifth in a new American record 9:12.50.
The women’s 100m was the last decisive final of the night. Only three countries contested the final, with four Jamiacans, two Americans and two Bahamians making up the field. As in the men’s race, the Jamiacan Olympic champion, this time in the form of Shelly-Ann Fraser, proved that Beijing was not a fluke. Fraser ran a spectacular race, taking the win in 10.73, placing herself in a tie with Christine Aron of France as the third fastest woman of all time. Previously unbeaten teammate Kerron Sewart came through in second, tying her personal best of 10.75, followed by American Carmelita Jeter in third with a 10.90 clocking. Defending champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica ended up being on the outside looking in as she finished just out of the medals in a season-best 10.95.
Three Americans In 1500m Final
Semifinals were held in the men’s 1500m and women’s 800m, with drastically different outcomes for the US team in the two events. In heat one of the men’s 1500m Americans Lopez Lomong (3:36.75) and Bernard Lagat (3:36.86) looked fantastic, finishing strong in second and third position, and qualifying for the final. In heat two American Leo Manzano looked even more impressive, outkicking some serious competition to finish second (3:36.29) and secure a third American spot in the final. The fourth American, Dorian Ulrey, finished 12th in the second heat, a non-qualifying finish.
The women’s 800m was quite the opposite for the Americans as all three women finished outside the qualifying spots in their heats. Hazel Clark missed qualifying for the final by a mere .18 seconds. World number two Maggie Vessey looked totally out of it finishing in an almost embarrassing last place in her heat with a time of 2:03.55, six seconds off her season best. Geena Gall, the NCAA champion, also missed out on the final. Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo continued to have a terrible 2009, as she failed to finish in her semifinal.
Elsewhere around the track American Chelsea Johnson jumped a season-best 4.65m to take the silver medal in the women’s pole vault behind champion Anna Rogowska of Poland (4.75m). World record holder Elena Isinbaeva of Russia was unable to clear any height, marking the first time she did not win gold at a major championship since the 2003 World Athletics Final. The women’s triple jump was won by defending champion Yargeris Savigne of Cuba with a mark of 14.95m and big Primoz Kozmus of Slovenia won the men’s hammer throw with a mark of 80.84 meters, a season best.