Kenyan women sweep marathon, 10,000 at worlds

August 27, 2011 - 9:30 AM
South Korea Athletics Worlds

Kenya's gold medalist Edna Ngeringwony Kiplagat, right, embraces teammates and silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo, left, and bronze medalist Sharon Jemutai Cherop following the Women's Marathon at the World Track and Field Championships in Daegu, South Korea, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

DAEGU, South Korea (AP) — Kenya had an unprecedented sweep in the women's marathon and 10,000 meters at the world championship Saturday to finish opening day a perfect six-for-six in medals. No nation has captured a triple since the championships started 28 years ago.

Edna Kiplagat crashed on the street late in the marathon only to recover and lead her nation to a win in 2 hours, 28 minutes, 43 seconds to claim the first gold medal of the competition.

Vivian Cheruiyot led her Kenyan countrywomen in the 10,000. All other challengers, including their Ethiopian rivals, failed to keep pace as Cheruiyot beat Sally Kipyego and defending champion Linet Masai.

Cheruiyot won in 30 minutes, 48.98 seconds, holding an edge of 1.06 seconds over Kipyego. Cheruiyot will be seeking a long-distance double as she also is the defending champion in the 5,000.

In the marathon, Priscah Jeptoo was second and Sharon Cherop third.

"I hope this result will give motivation to our Kenyan team members," Jeptoo said.

Americans Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross easily advances to the semifinals Sunday — Felix with effortless grace and Richards-Ross putting in her big push in the final stretch to beat Jamaican rival Shericka Williams.

American decathlon favorites Trey Hardee and Ashton Eaton led the standings after three of 10 events, with Eaton losing the top spot to the defending champion after finishing 17th in the shot put.

Kenya's perfect start contrasted with the fortunes of Olympic 400 champion Christine Ohuruogu and Australian pole vaulter Steve Hooker.

The British runner was disqualified for a false start in her opening heat and the defending pole vault champion from Australia failed to clear the qualifying height.

"Just mentally, it wasn't there," Hooker said. "I had no confidence in what I was doing out there. I wasn't feeling it."

Kiplagat certainly felt the stinging pain when she tangled up with Cherop at one of the last water stations and suddenly was on all fours.

"I was a little shocked," Kiplagat said. "What was in my mind was I wasn't sure if I was going to pick up the pace again."

Also shocked, Cherop helped pick up her veteran teammate and off they went again as a trio heading through the 80-degree morning heat and humidity of inland South Korea.

Kiplagat, a 31-year-old mother of two, embraced her teammates and gingerly walked away, arms interlocking to celebrate the victory.

David Rudisha added to Kenya's cheer, coasting in qualifying for an 800 meters.

And Kenya will be counting on more medals in the women's 10,000 later Saturday, the only two finals on the opening day.

Vivian Cheruiyot, who won the 5,000 two years ago in Berlin, is aiming for a long-distance double this time. The Kenyan only started running competitively in the 10,000 this year, but is already one of the favorites along with defending champion Linet Masai and Meseret Defar of Ethiopia.

Whatever happens during that race, it is unlikely it will match the roar at the 53,000-capacity Daegu Stadium for the first appearance of Usain Bolt. The Jamaican will start his quest for a third sprint triple in as many major championships.

After main rival Asafa Powell withdrew injured, it seems nothing can stop him from winning the marquee event of the championships. He will run the 200 and the 400 relay later.

The biggest shock early in the balmy evening session was the elimination of Ohuruogu. She could be one of the biggest local stars of the London Olympics next year, but she missed her chance to win another world title.

The 2007 world champion stood in stunned silence for more than a minute after she was disqualified for her false start and given a red card.