World Champs Women’s 5000 — A Good Switch

Winner Gudaf Tsegay wasn’t originally listed among Ethiopia’s first 3. (KEVIN MORRIS)

1500 SILVER MEDALIST Gudaf Tsegay won a thrilling last-lap sprint against 5 others to claim victory. Fending off a pair of last-lap challenges from Kenya’s Beatrice Chebet and another from Olympic gold medalist Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, the 25-year-old Ethiopian pulled away in the homestretch to a 14:46.29 win.

Tsegay had originally been entered as the Ethiopian alternate, but when the start lists were published, she had replaced Ejgayehu Taye, who had run the season’s fastest time of 14:12.98 on this track at the Prefontaine Classic.

Chebet finished 2nd in 14:46.75, with Ethiopia’s Dawit Seyaum 3rd in 14:47.36. Hassan faded in the last 100 to finish 6th in 14:48.12, losing out to Kenyan Margaret Kipkemboi (14:47.71) and Ethiopia’s 10,000 champion Letesenbet Gidey (14:47.98).

Americans Elise Cranny and Emily Infeld finished 9th (14:59.99) and 14th (15:29.03), while Karissa Schweizer left the track with little more than a lap remaining after suffering an apparent calf strain about a lap earlier. She had been running 7th just ahead of Cranny for most of the race.

At the outset the pace was slow, Seyaum leading through the first lap in 78 seconds. Seyaum continued to lead until Tsegay took the lead down the backstretch approaching the 800 point, which she reached in 2:40, with 10 bunched within a second.

But within a lap Tsegay had stretched the field, stringing the runners out with only 6 within a second at 1200m. Hassan, waiting for the racing to begin, was biding her time at the back of the field. Gidey took over the pacing half-way through the fourth lap, with Tsegay taking it back a lap later. Gidey then took on a longer 600-meter stretch at the front before Tsegay towed the field through the 3000 in 9:02.79.

Within a half lap, Gidey was back at the front for another lap, the pair now switching each go-round, running slightly under 3:00 for each kilometer. Gidey led at 4km in 12:00.69 and through much of the next lap until Tsegay took over with a lap and a half remaining, the last lap covered in 72 seconds as the field gathered itself for the final 600.

Tsegay stepped up the pace slightly for the first furlong, covered in a bit under 34 seconds as the field heard the bell. Hassan had finally placed herself in medal position, running wide behind Tsegay with a lap remaining. The lead pack finally was responding with a sense of urgency.

Around the first bend Tsegay led with Hassan on her shoulder, followed closely by Gidey on the rail and Chebet outside, a short stride behind Hassan. On the backstretch Tsegay moved from the rail to the outside of lane 1, trying to discourage anyone from passing. As she did, Chebet surged past Hassan and tried to grab the lead. Hassan, now boxed, slid to the inside with 40m of straightaway to go and sneaked past Tsegay.

Hassan held the lead going into the final turn, the last 200 having taken a bit under 30 seconds. Tsegay held 2nd with Chebet trying to maintain her shoulder. Hassan opened a slight gap through the top of the curve with Chebet swinging wide and briefly getting past Tsegay. The three ran side-by-side through the second half of the turn until Hassan relented, and with 15m left in the turn, Tsegay held a minuscule lead on Chebet, Hassan 3rd but less than a full stride behind the leaders.

At the top of the homestretch Tsegay began to slide to the outside of lane 2 with Chebet still on Tsegay’s right shoulder. The inner gap opened as Hassan was drifting backward and Seyaum, 5th with 100 to go, ran to daylight and mounted her own challenge, a clear path to the finish ahead of her. But no maneuvering got anyone closer to Tsegay, who was pulling away slightly. With 6m to go she gave a quick glance to her right and saw nothing.

Two more strides ended an exciting finish, but for Tsegay everything had gone according to plan. “I was trying to control the race [in] first place, so it was very hard for me,” said the 5-foot-2 winner. “But that was the plan because I was in shape and my victory confirms it was a good plan.”


WOMEN’S 5000 RESULTS

FINAL (July 23)

(temperature 77F/25C; humidity 43%)

1. Gudaf Tsegay (Eth) 14:46.29

(3:14.21, 2:53.35 [6:07.56], 2:55.23 [9:02.79], 2:58.02 [12:00.81], 2:45.48)

(14.56, 29.68, 59.95, 2:09.52, 4:32.79);

2. Beatrice Chebet (Ken) 14:46.75 (3:14.82, 2:53.26 [6:08.08], 2:55.10 [9:03.18], 2:57.84 [12:01.02], 2:45.73)

(15.00, 30.09, 60.17, 2:09.91, 4:33.05);

3. Dawit Seyaum (Eth) 14:47.36

(splits not available);

4. Margaret Kipkemboi (Ken) 14:47.71

(14.96, 30.26, 60.94, 2:10.73, 4:33.80);

5. Letesenbet Gidey (Eth) 14:47.98

(15.86, 31.13, 61.50, 2:11.33, 4:34.62);

6. Sifan Hassan (Neth) 14:48.12

(16.33, 31.55, 61.68, 2:10.78, 4:33.32);

7. Caroline Kipkirui (Kaz) 14:54.80

(16.60, 33.35, 66.95, 2:17.66, 4:40.54);

8. Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal (Nor) 14:57.62

(16.45, 32.28, 64.71, 2:13.01, 4:34.22);

9. Elise Cranny (US) 14:59.99

(16.48, 34.46, 70.15, 2:22.09, 4:45.44);

10. Gloria Kite (Ken) 15:01.22;

11. Eilish McColgan (GB) 15:03.03;

12. Nozomi Tanaka (Jpn) 15:19.35;

13. Jessica Judd (GB) 15:19.88;

14. Emily Infeld (US) 15:29.03;

… dnf—Karissa Schweizer (US) (calf strain after 4500m).

(leader splits: Tsegay 3:14.21, 6:07.56, 9:02.79; Gidey 12:00.69)

HEATS (July 20)

I–1. Tsegay 14:52.64; 2. Seyaum 14:53.06; 3. Chebet 14:53.34; 4. Kipkemboi 14:53.45; 5. Schweizer 14:53.69; 6. Infeld 15:00.98; 7. Ririka Hironaka (Jpn) 15:02.03; 8. Konstanze Klosterhalfen (Ger) 15:17.78; 9. Maureen Koster (Neth) 15:18.17; 10. Sarah Lahti (Swe) 15:26.05; 11. Rahel Daniel (Eri) 15:31.03; 12. Amy-Eloise Markovc (GB) 15:31.62; 13. Caster Semenya (SA) 15:46.12; 14. Kaede Hagitani (Jpn) 15:53.39; 15. Florencia Borelli (Arg) 16:06.36; 16. Edymar Brea (Ven) 16:41.32;… dnf—Natalie Rule (Aus), Camilla Richardsson (Fin).

II–1. Gidey 14:52.27; 2. Kipkirui 14:52.54; 3. Hassan 14:52.89; 4. Grøvdal 14:53.07; 5. Cranny 14:53.20; 6. Kite 14:53.62; 7. McColgan 14:56.47; 8. Judd 14:57.64; 9. Tanaka 15:00.21; 10. Alina Reh (Ger) 15:13.92; 11. Laura Galván (Mex) 15:15.92; 12. Mariana Machado (Por) 15:18.09 PR; 13. Esther Chebet (Uga) 15:26.40; 14. Selamawit Teferi (Isr) 15:44.30; 15. Rose Davies (Aus) 15:45.95; 16. Joselyn Daniely Brea (Ven) 15:46.75; 17. Parul Chaudhary (Ind) 15:54.03; 18. Sara Benfarès (Ger) 16:34.23; 19. Gracelyn Larkin (Can) 16:48.78. ◻︎

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