Wednesday, August 24, 2011

World Championships Preview - 5000 Meters

For me the most exciting of the distance races is the 5000 meters as men and women with 10,000 meter endurance and 1500 meter speed often end up in a mad dash for gold over the final lap. Daegu should produce two very exciting races as both fields have some very exciting matchups.


Men’s 5000

World Record 12:37.35 Kenenisa Bekele ETH
Meet Record 12:52.79 Eliud Kipchoge KEN
2009 Gold 13:17.09 Kenennisa Bekele ETH


2011 Best

  12:53.11 Mo Farah GBR
  12:53.60 Bernard Lagat USA
  12:54.18 Isiah Koech KEN
  12:54.21 Imane Merga ETH
  12:55.29 Vincent Chepkok KEN
  12:55.89 Dejene Gebremeskel ETH

Only twice in the history of the World Championships has a non African won this race – Eamonn Coghlan (‘83) and Bernard Lagat (‘07). Not only is gold under threat by a non African, but for the first time since the inaugural meet in 1983 we could see non African’s take gold AND silver.

At the head of the pack is Britain's Mo Farah. Three races (Birmingham, Monaco, British Trials), three wins, the world leader and a British Record. Farah has shown to both be able to win off a fast pace, or a slow pace, so he’s primed for whatever he has to face in Daegu. His Monaco win was critical, as it was the fastest race of the year, and one in which he was able to defeat all of the top competition heading into Korea.

Right behind him on the clock, and literally in Monaco was American Bernard Lagat. Lagat won this event in Osaka (‘07) and heads into Worlds better than ever. He’s two and two on the year with wins in Melbourne and Nationals, and 2nd place finishes to Farah in Monaco and in New York in horrible conditions. Lagat, like Farah, can run off of any kind of pace and posses a fierce finishing kick. He’s also the most experienced runner in the field and a savvy tactician, which could give him an advantage in a close race.

The Kenyan contingent will be lead by National champion Isiah Koech, who finished third behind Farah & Lagat in that fast Monaco race – Daegu teammates Thomas Longosiwa (5th) and Eliud Kipchoge (6th) were also in Monaco. Koech appears to be the best of the lot as he also had respectable finishes in Rome (2nd) & New York (4th). Kipchoge’s best finish being a 3rd in Lausanne to go with a 5th in Hengelo; while Longosiwa was only 9th in Rome and 16th in New York.

Breaking up the Kenyan group in Monaco was Ethiopian Imane Merga in 4th. Merga is perhaps the most dangerous of the Africans as he won in both Rome & Eugene, was 2nd in Lausanne, and 3rd in Birmingham to go with his Monaco 4th. Merga could be the biggest African threat to take this race, but his seasonal pattern of finishing one place lower in each race since New York is not a good one.

The 5000 will be one of the final events of the meet. Those that double will be doing so one week after competing in the 10,000. This could have an effect on the 5000 if there are injuries, fatigue, or athletes decide to drop for other reasons. I say this because the favorite, Farah will be competing in the 10,000, and doing so against the great Kenenisa Bekele – double world record holder. And even though Bekele is coming off injury he is certain to make the 10,000 a very tough race to win – and that will make it difficult for Farah and Merga who appear to be headed for attempts at the double. That could make an easier path for someone like Lagat, who is focusing solely on the 5000 in this meet.

Taking all into account, and after consulting with my crystal ball, I come out with:

Gold Bernard Lagat USA 12:57.10
Silver Mo Farah GBR 12:58.00
Bronze Isiah Koech KEN 12:58.50
Just Missed Imane Merga ETH 12:58.90





Women’s 5000

World Record 14:11.15 Tirunesh Dibaba ETH
Meet Record 14:38.59 Tirunesh Dibaba ETH
2009 Gold 14:57.97 Vivian Cheruiyot KEN


2011 Best

  14:20.87 Vivian Cheruiyot KEN
  14:29.52 Meseret Defar ETH
  14:31.66 Sentayehu Ejigu ETH
  14:32.95 Linet Masai KEN
  14:34.86 Viola Kibiwott KEN
  14:35.13 Mercy Cherono KEN

While everyone likes to talk about the US/Jamaica rivalry in the sprints, the distance events has what may be an even bigger rivalry between the Kenyans and Ethiopians who dominate the 5K, 10K and marathon events.The women’s 5000 meters will bring to undefeated runners to the stage to play that rivalry out before the world.

The first is list leader, and defending World champion, Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) who has won in Shanghai, Eugene and Stockholm – her Stockholm run a Kenyan National Record. She’s also set a PR this season over 10000 meters (31:05.02) – so she heads to Daegu fast and fit.

Lining up against her will be Berlin bronze medalist Meseret Defar (ETH) who preceded Cheruiyot as World champion winning in Osaka. Defar has won in Hengelo, Oslo and Paris this year, and ironically her SB over 10000 meters this year (31:05.05) nearly mirrors that of Cheruiyot. She too is fast and fit.

Defar will be joined by teammate Sentayehu Ejigu. While Ejigu has yet to win a race on the season, she has only lost to Defar and Cheruiyot taking second in Shanghai, Hengelo, Oslo and Paris. Ejigu is more of a “speed burner” with wins over 3000 in Hengelo and Paris.

Kenya’s #2 entry will be Linet Masai, the defending 10000 meter champion. She is effective here too as her #4 position on the yearly list attests – as do a 3rd place finish in Shanghai and a runner up at Pre.

This quartet should make the race – which should really come down to a head to head between ‘09 champion Cheruiyot and ‘07 champion Defar. Defar is #2 all time, Cheruiyot #3. Ethiopia v Kenya. However, in the final analysis, one athlete is sliding slightly while the other is growing in stature. Gold will go to the athlete on the rise – but she will have to work for it:

Gold Vivian Cheruiyot KEN 14:18.50
Silver Meseret Defar ETH 14.25.00
Bronze Sentayehu Ejigu ETH 14.30.00
Just Missed Linet Masai KEN 14:34.00


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