By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved, with permission to use
EUGENE (16-Jul) — Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey won her first global 10,000m title here this afternoon, moving up from the silver medal position in 2019.
In a furious four-way sprint finish, Gidey clocked a world-leading 30:09.94 to edge two Kenyans, Hellen Obiri (30:10.02) and Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi (30:10.07), and reigning world and Olympic champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands finished fourth in 30:10.56. Gidey’s time was the fastest-ever on U.S. soil.
But Gidey’s win did not come without controversy. Coming out of the final bend, Gidey was running in the inside line and had a one or two-step lead over her rivals. As she sprinted for home, both Obiri and Kipkemboi launched a fierce attack and were gaining on Gidey. In the final 10 meters, Gidey began to veer from lane one to lane two to make passing more difficult, and then put her right arm out as Obiri came on her shoulder. Obiri, the 2019 world 5000m champion, felt that her racing line had been blocked.
“(The last) 20 meters for me it was like terrible because I tried to go and Gidey was blocking me,” Obiri told Race Results Weekly. “So I tried to go inside, she was coming like outside the line.”
Hassan, was in the middle of the track just another two steps behind third place Kipkemboi, didn’t see a problem with Gidey’s move.
“I think Gidey tried to lean and she ran outside,” Hassan said dismissively. “That’s how tactics is.”
Obiri thought that her federation, Athletics Kenya, might file a protest. But more than two hours after the race there was no evidence of a protest, and the results were deemed official.
“The officials were there,” Obiri said. “I think they’re going to protest.”
Gidey did not speak with the media and was hustled through the mixed zone by an Ethiopian team official with his arm around her shoulder. There was no post-race press conference.
The fast pace of today’s race was set by Japan’s Ririka Hironaka. Wearing a white cap, she followed Briton’s Eilish McColgan for three laps before taking the lead. The field immediately went to single-file formation, and Hironaka got to halfway in 15:19.31, a pace fast enough to make the race honest but one which left enough headroom for faster running at the end. Conditions were cloudy and not as hot as yesterday.
McColgan went back in front after the halfway mark, but by 7000m Gidey and her teammate, Ejgayehu Taye, started to control the pace. The 73 and 74-second laps that Hironaka had been running gave way to much tougher 71-second laps, instead.
The penultimate lap went at 69.2 seconds, setting up Gidey for a 60.5-second final circuit.
American Karissa Schweizer ran with the leaders the entire race, but ended up ninth. Still, she ran a personal best 30:18.05 and improved on her 12th place finish from last summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
“I’m excited compared to last year,” Schweizer said. “Got a huge PB, and I just really wanted to be in it this year. So, I really stuck my nose in it. I knew the pace was in my PR range. I just really wanted to go out there and try to compete.”
Of the field of 19 starters, 11 set personal best times. National records were recorded for Eritrea (Rahel Daniel, 30:12.15), Kazakhstan (Caroline Chepkoech Kipkirui, 30:17.64), and Uganda (Stella Chesang, 31:01.04).
In women’s steeplechase qualifying which happened about two hours earlier, Kazakhstan’s Nora Jeruto jolted her competitors by flying through the first kilometer in the first heat in a snappy 2:58.50. That strung out the 14 women right away, including ten-time USA champion Emma Coburn.
“It was a little spicy,” Coburn told Race Results Weekly. “It went out in 67 instead of 73.”
Jeruto pounded through the second kilometer just two seconds slower, and won with about a 50-meter margin in 9:01.54, the kind of time fans are likely to see for the winner in the final.
“I run fast because I wanted to be qualified for the final,” the Kenyan-born Jeruto said with a small giggle.
Behind Jeruto, the two other automatic qualifying positions went to Ethiopia’s Werkuha Getachew (9:11.25) and Tunisia’s Marwa Bouzayani (9:12.14). Coburn, who finished fourth in 9:15.19 and advanced on time, admitted that she wasn’t familiar with either Getachew or Bouzayani.
“There’s new faces in the steeple and I’ve got to be ready for it,” Coburn said. “I didn’t close the last 600 in the way that I need to.”
The second and third heats went a bit slower, but still the paces were honest. France’s Alice Finot won heat two in a national record 9:14.34, followed by Ethiopia’s Mekides Abebe (9:14.83) and Albania’s Luiza Gega (9:14.91). American Courtney Wayment, competing in her first-ever World Athletics Championships, ran with the leaders the entire way and finished fourth in 9:14.95 and advanced on time.
“To be honest I wasn’t even looking at pace,” Wayment told Race Results Weekly. “I was just there to try to get top three, get a big ‘Q’ and call it a day.”
Also in the second heat, reigning Olympic champion Peruth Chemutai of Uganda advanced on time by finishing fifth in 9:16.66.
The third and final heat was won by Kenya’s Celliphine Chespol in 9:16.78, with the other two automatic qualification spots going to Slovenia’s Marusa Mismas (9:17.14) and Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi (9:17.32). Courtney Frerichs, the 2021 Olympic silver medalist, finished fourth and advanced on time. She was excited that three Americans would be in the final.
“Huge deal, home soil, I’m excited,” Frerichs told reporters. “I think when we’re all together there’s definitely a real team feel, really feed off each other. The way they’re running right now will provide a great comfort for me. Another Courtney too so we’re going to hear a whole lot of Courtney’s on each lap.”
PHOTO: Letesenbet Gidey wins the 2022 World Athletics Championships 10,000m title (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
PHOTO: Norah Jeruto of Kazakhstan led all qualifiers in the 3000m steeplechase, clocking 9:01.54 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)