Ethiopia show might in 5,000m and marathon

Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia edges out her Kenyan rival Helah Kiprop by just one second in a sprint duel in the last 50m to win gold in the marathon.
Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia edges out her Kenyan rival Helah Kiprop by just one second in a sprint duel in the last 50m to win gold in the marathon. PHOTO: REUTERS
From far left: Third-placed Genzebe Dibaba poses with her compatriots - winner Almaz Ayana and second-placed Senbere Teferi - after the Ethiopian trio shut out all other rivals in the 5,000m final.
From far left: Third-placed Genzebe Dibaba poses with her compatriots - winner Almaz Ayana and second-placed Senbere Teferi - after the Ethiopian trio shut out all other rivals in the 5,000m final.PHOTO: REUTERS

African nation's women unstoppable while Jamaica and US triumph in 4x400m relays

BEIJING • Almaz Ayana led an Ethiopian medals' sweep in the women's 5,000m yesterday as 1,500m winner Genzebe Dibaba had to settle for bronze at the World Championships in Beijing.

In cool conditions after heavy rain, Ayana ran a championship record 14min 26.83sec to win comfortably from Senbere Teferi.

The latter put on a late surge to pip Dibaba by seven-hundredths of a second.

Genzebe, younger sister of 5,000m world record-holder Tirunesh, had won the 1,500m but Ayana's pace over the last five laps put paid to her hopes of a double.

"I had to win the gold medal," said Ayana. "It was a hard race and a hard competition in general.

"It is great for our country that we won gold, silver and bronze."

Genzebe said she was "not disappointed" with bronze. She added that she had been hampered by a heel injury since winning her maiden world title in the 1,500m.

"My country won three medals, I can only be pleased about that," she said. "It was a really hard race. I've had so many races recently and after the 1,500m final, my left foot started to hurt- I have a heel spur that hurts a lot."

To add insult to injury, the championship record Ayana bettered was set by Tirunesh at the 2005 World Championships.

Genzebe is a cousin of two-time Olympic champion Derartu Tulu while triple Olympic champion Tirunesh won the 5,000m and 10,000m at the Bird's Nest stadium at the 2008 Olympics.

The defeat will not do much to tarnish Genzebe's breakthrough season, during which she shattered the long-standing 1,500m record.

And it offers a prospect of an intriguing family clash at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Tirunesh, who took this season off to have a baby, won the 5,000m at the 2003 and 2005 World Championships.

Mare Dibaba - unrelated to Ethiopian team-mates Genzebe and Tirunesh - lived up to her billing as the world's fastest marathon runner by winning the gruelling event in a sprint finish.

She timed 2hr 27min 35sec to edge out Kenya's Helah Kiprop by just one second after a sprint in the final 50 metres of the race.

There was also drama in the men's high jump where Canada's Derek Drouin won the gold medal with a 2.34m clearance in a sudden-death finale.

He went into a jump-off with defending champion Bogdan Bondarenko of Ukraine and China's Zhang Guowei after all three had identical cards, no failures up to 2.33 but none able to clear 2.36.

After the trio had failed at 2.36 for a fourth time, the bar was lowered to 2.34. The 25-year-old Drouin, a bronze medallist at the 2013 World Championships, went first and cleared it.

Bondarenko and Zhang failed in their attempts and shared the silver.

The Beijing championships drew to a close with a thrilling finale in the 4x400m relays.

In the women's event, Jamaica stunned the United States as Novlene Williams-Mills snatched the gold by passing Francena McCorory in the final 10m.

Jamaica had held a 15m lead over the US halfway through the race.

But America's individual 400m champion Allyson Felix delivered an astonishing leg to chase down and catch Stephenie Ann McPherson, handing over the baton for the anchor leg with a slight lead.

Felix's leg of the relay was timed unofficially at 47.7sec but it was to prove in vain as Williams-Mills ran a shrewd final lap to overhaul a tiring McCorory. It was Jamaica's third relay gold and her nation's seventh of the week.

In the men's 4x400m, LaShawn Merritt anchored the US to a sixth successive title in 2:57.82, the best time of the year.

Trinidad and Tobago won the silver with 2:58.20 while Britain came in third in 2.58.51.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2015, with the headline 'Ethiopia show might in 5,000m and marathon'. Print Edition | Subscribe