Len Johnson for the IAAF
Published on August 19,2015
Tirunesh Dibaba, Linet Masai and Vivian Cheruiyot have won the past nine global 10,000m titles between them.
The incomparable Dibaba has the lion’s share, with Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012 and World Championships victories in 2005, 2007 and 2013. Masai and Cheruiyot have one each; Masai in Berlin in 2009 and Cheruiyot in Daegu two years later, where she added the 5000m gold medal as well.
With neither Dibaba nor Masai competing in Beijing, it would be logical to assume the 10,000m gold medal might be headed Cheruiyot’s way.
Logical up to a point. What such thinking fails to take account of is that Cheruiyot is in her comeback season after the birth of her first child in 2014. And while the Cheruiyot of 2011 would face less formidable opposition in Beijing than she defeated then, the Cheruiyot of 2015 is just one of several women with a credible chance of standing on top of the podium in the Bird’s Nest on the opening night of the championships.
Cheruiyot’s comeback has been steady, more than outstanding, to date. A 14:46.69 for 5000m in Eugene, an 8:39.75 for 3000m, a 31:13.29 in Brussels to get a qualifier for the Beijing 10,000m, and wins in the 1500m at the National Championships and in the 10,000m at the Kenyan Trials.
Solid, rather than awe-inspiring, though Cheruiyot did beat Olympic silver medallist Sally Kipyego at the trials. Kipyego and Betsy Saina will join Cheruiyot in Beijing, giving Kenya a three-pronged challenge for medals.
Without Dibaba and another 10,000m regular in Meselech Melkamu, there is a new look about the Ethiopian team. Heading it up is Gelete Burka who has settled at 10,000m after an initial move up from the middle distances to the marathon.
Burka won the Ethiopian selection race in Hengelo in a world-leading 30:49.68, having earlier defeated Shalane Flanagan to win at the Stanford Invitational.
Ethiopia has named four runners for Beijing, with one a reserve, but if the finishing order from the Hengelo race is followed, the final three will be Burka, Alemitu Haroye and Belaynesh Oljira.
Oljira was the bronze medallist in Moscow two years ago, the highest finisher from that race who is entered for Beijing. She was also fifth at the 2012 Olympics, so must be strong medal chance.
Haroye debuted at 10,000m in Hengelo, finishing second in 30:50.83. The world junior champion at 5000m last year, she is definitely one to watch.
Flanagan, bronze medallist in Beijing in 2008, will have fond memories of the Bird’s Nest. She was also a top-eight finisher at the 2007, 2011 and 2013 World Championships. She finished second to Molly Huddle at the US Championships but looks the pick of the trio.
Portgual and Japan usually have strong representation in championship distance running. Yuka Takashima, Rei Ohara and Kasuma Nishihara will carry the Japanese colours while Sara Moreira and Ana Dulce Felix are likely to run for Portugal.
European 5000m bronze medallist Susan Kuijken has a 31:31.97 to her credit this year, but is also qualified at 5000m.