London Diaries, Day 1, Session 2: Majewski, Dibaba Defend!
The first two finals at the Olympics were the women's 10,000 meters and the men's shot put. Nearly 80,000 people were entertained by two great competitions and a range of athletic excellence that we have not seen in years.
Women's 10,000m final
In the women's 10,000 meters, three Japanese took the lead almost immediately. Hitomi Niiya, Kayoko Fukushi and Mika Yoshikawa took the lead, with Kayoka Fukishi leading through the first kilometer in 3:06.07.
Niiya, Fukushi, Yoshikawa ran in a pack and built a lead of nearly fifteen meters, before the pack, lead by Kenyans Sally Kipyego, Vivian Cheruiyot and Ethiopians Werknesh Kidane, Tirunesh Dibaba and Beleynesh Ojira, with Joe Pavey and Julia Bleasdale of Great Britain in tow.
Hitomi Niiya lead through 2,000 meters in 6:11.57 (3:05), 3,000m (3:07) in 9:18.27, and 4,000 meters in 12:24.93 (3:06).
Sally Kipyego, who runs for the Oregon Track Club and is coached by Seoul bronze medalist in the steeple, Mark Rowland, took the lead in the 4th kilometer, hitting the half way point in 15:32.06.
The pace quickened, the fifth kilometer was covered in 3:08, then the sixth, as Werknesh Kidane took the lead, with her long, efficient stride, reminding one of a miler and not a long distance runner, was hit in three minutes flat.
The pack began to break up as three Kenyans, Kipyego, Chepkirui, Cheruiyot, and three Ethiopians, Kidane, Oljira and Dibaba, started to get serious. In championship 10,000 meters, the race does not start until halfway, then you better be careful.
Werknesh Kidane busted open the race, and started to make the field hurt. Kidane hit 6,000 meters in 18:32.08, then seven kilometers in 21:36.78 (3:04), then, Kidane hit 8,000 meters in 24:34.07, a 2:58 kilometer.
Kidane had done her job. Sally Kipyego rushed back into the lead, continuing to push the grueling pace, and starting to test not only Dibaba, but her team mate, Vivian Cheruiyot. Joyce Chepkirui had dropped out right around seven kilometers.
Sally Kipyego, who ran that tough solo 5,000 meters at the Payton Jordan meet, knows how to make the pace hard. Her ninth kilometer was hit in 27:35.07, a 3:01. Not that tough by itself, but the increases in pace, and the resting, were like a fartlek workout.
As 80,000 fans cheered, Tirunesh Dibaba came to life. Having spent most of the last three years with stomach issues, Dibaba really started to put it together around the Carsbad 5,000 meters, which she ran this April.
Tirunesh Dibaba ran 2:09 for the last 800 meters, not even taking the lead until 500 meters to go. When Dibaba, aka the babyfaced Destroyer (I really do not like that name, but have to find a better one), took off, the party was over.
Dibaba ran, light of foot, around the track. A site to behold, Tirunesh Dibaba wanted this gold medal very much, concerned that she might be battling someone to the wire. After having won the bronze at 5,000m in 2004, a gold at 10,000m in 2008, and now, an unprecedented Gold at 10,000m for a women a second time, Dibaba just increased her pace, running the last lap in just under sixty two seconds and a final 200 meters in 31 seconds. She put six seconds on Sally Kipyego in the last 300 meters.
Tirunesh Dibaba won in aworld leading 30:20.75 for 10,000 meters. Her splits were 15:32/14:48.
Sally Kipyego went by Vivian Cheruiyot with just over 300 meters to go, as Vivian Cheruiyot, Double World champ in 2011, finished third to Kipyego, 30:26.37 to 30:30.44.
Eleven of the top fourteen runners set personal bests. Jo Pavey was seventh in 30:53.20 and Julia Bleasdale was eighth, in 30:55.63, as both Brits ran to a thunderous applause.
Americans Amy Hastings (31:10.35), Janet Cherebon-Bawcom (31;12.68) and Lisa Uhl (31:12.80), went 11, 12, 13th and also set personal bests.
Tirunesh Dibaba did tell reporters that she will run a marathon in 2013, " Yes I am thinking of doing a marathon next year, that is part of my plan. " noted Dibaba.
Sally Kipyego, in taking a silver Olympic medal, moved herself up the hierarchy in Kenyan women distance running. Showing the class that she runs with, Sally said, " It is a great honor for me to run for Kenya, and I am honored to get a silver medal." To paraphrase one of my favorite writers on running, " another success for the Rowland training group".
Vivian Cheruiyot did not have her best day. But, Vivian spoke about how wonderful it was for Kenyan women to be racing well (two medals today in the 10,000 meters) and how many more are running and racing in Kenya.
For complete results just go to www.iaaf.org.
Men's shot put
David Storl of Germany, at the age of 21 last year, stopped the US shot put party that was supposed to happen in Daegu. For the first time in years, (I believe 1976), American shot putters picked up no hardware in a global shot put championship.
Storl, a glider, is tall and fast. He took control from Dylan Armstrong in Daegu and did not look back.
At first, this looked like a rerun of the 2011 World Champs as David Storl first hit 21.84m and then, 21.86 meters! He had a lead over second place Reese Hoffa, who has thrown 21.23m.
Then Tomasz Majewski, the defending Olympic champion, and no slouch at the shot put, went from near 21 meters (20.98m) and threw 21.87m-just one centimeter farther than Storl.
Storl tried and fouled. Christian Cantwell improved on his three fair throws, finally hitting 21.19m, just four centimeters from a bronze medal.
Try as he might, Reese Hoffa did not improve on his 21.23m, but he did get his first Olympic medal, taking the bronze and getting the US back in the shot put medal game.
Ryan Whiting, the 2012 World Indoor Champ could not get back 20.21m, and did not make the final eight.
On Majewski's last throw, Tomasz showed his precision and his timing, key to his success as a shot putter. Tomasz Majewski threw 21.89 meters, his seasonal best.
You remember, that Tomasz Majewski won the gold medal in Beijing in the shot put as well. His victory here was the first time since Perry O'Brian won the shot put in 1952 and 1956 that a shot putter has defended his title.
Congrats to Tomasz Majewski, David Storl and Reese Hoffa on their medals and thanks for giving us such a great shot put competition to enjoy.