IAAF World Championships, Moscow 2013

Overview

As in the 2012 Olympics, it was the Mo Farah, a “Somali-born Londoner”, who together with Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price, was one of the superstars of the championships. His 5,000/10,000 “double double” denied African men a grand slam from 800 metres to the marathon. (Abeba Alegawi’s 1,500 metres gold for Sweden similarly denied the women!).

However, African-born runners – with Farah included at 5,000/10,000 metres; and Alegawi in the women’s 1,500 metres- took the grand slam in the men’s and the women’s distance races from 800 metres to the marathon.

Mo Farah, born in Somalia, nurtured and educated in London, trained in Kenya, USA and France, coached by a Puerto Rican in USA, allied his richly-mixed background with his African DNA, wrapped in a GB flag!!

African men’s overall gold medal haul (4) dropped behind their 2011 and earlier successes, as did their overall medal haul of 13 (vis a vis 15 in Daegu, 2011).

By contrast, African women had their most successful world championships.  A total of 5 gold medals surpassed Daegu and equalled that of Paris 2003 and Edmonton 2001- with the overall haul of 17 being ‘best ever’!

 

Summary Table: by country

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Total

Total

M

F

M

F

M

F

M

F

Kenya

2

3

1

3

2

1

5

7

12

Ethiopia

1

2

3

0

1

3

5

5

10

Uganda

1

1

1

Ivory Coast

2

2

2

Nigeria

1

1

1

2

2

Botswana

1

1

1

Djibouti

1

1

1

South Africa

1

1

1

Total

4

5

4

7

5

5

13

17

30

Blackgold Men (4 gold)

The men won the same medals as in London 2012.

800 metres

All three medallists from London 2012 were absent from the 800 metres, the most notable being the all-conquering world record-holder, Olympic and World Champion, David Rudisha. Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia was the 2013 form-man with only one significant defeat (to Rudisha). Aman with Symonds and Souleiman contested the final stages but Aman, trailing fourth at the bell, won it over last fifty metres, to give Ethiopia its first global gold medal at 800 metres (indeed its first at a distance below 5,000 metres). Souleimen (3rd) gave Djibouti a rare medal. It was Africa’s fourth consecutive gold at the distance – and its 8th overall.

1,500 metres

The reigning champion, Asbel Kiprop (Kenya), had recovered from the injury that saw him finish last in the 2012 Olympic final (a major set-back for the then defending Olympic champion) and was the overwhelming favourite. Together with his countrymen, Silas Kiplagat and Nixon Chepseba, Kiprop made much of the running with the field well-bunched and watching the Kenyans. Chepseba led at the bell, but Kiprop (often tactically fallible in the past) ran a perfect race and, using his height, stride and pace, sprinted away along the home straight to retain his title and give Africa its 10th gold at the distance. As the remaining Kenyans faded, Cronje took bronze for South Africa,

3,000 metres Steeplechase

Ezekiel Kemboi (with a fastest time of 7.59.03), the double Olympic and double World Champion was clearly the man to watch in the Kenyan team (which included Koech, Kipruto and Mutai) whose eyes were on a Kenyan clean sweep. These runners dominated the race – as usual in the steeplechase. Kemboi was the least prominent in the core of the race, but his basic finishing speed made him the most threatening. His colleagues swapped the lead, but his trademark finish took him from 5th at the bell to lead Conselsus Kipruto to the tape in 8.06.4 – with a third place finish from Mekhissi-Benabbad (France) denying Kenya/Africa its clean sweep, though Africa had taken its 10th consecutive gold (all Kenyan). Kemboi’s gold was his third in succession – in emulation of Kiptanui, to add to his double Olympic gold medals – a medal haul that eclipses even that of the great Kiptanui. Kemboi’s idiosyncratic jig led to the podium!

Marathon

Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) appeared to be the pre-race favourite in spite of the presence of the Olympic Champion, Stephen Kiprotich, of Uganda , as well a wider corps of fast Africans.

As anticipated, the field was bunched for much of the first hour, with Kebede, Tola, Kiprotich variously making the running and the Ethiopian and Kenyan runners prominently positioned. After 30ks Kiprotich was leading a group of 10 Africans! Namahoto (Japan) briefly flourished. As Tola surged, Kiprotich in particular appeared sluggish and the Ethiopian trio (Tola, Desise and Kebede) gathered themselves for the challenge. As in London 2012, though, Kiprotich emerged with strength, Tola and Desise in his wake. Over the final kilometres Kiprotich proved relaxed, clam and strong – pressurising Desise who trailed him, as Kiprotich zigzagged along trying to drop the pursuer. With 800 metres to go, Kiprotich’s strength, experience and tactical dominance took him clear – to an Olympic and World Championship double for Uganda. This was the first non-Kenyan winner since 2005 (and the first occasion since then that Kenya secured no men’s marathon medal). Desisa (2013 Boston winner) was second, Tola 3rd and Kebede 4th, giving Africa its 7th marathon gold in succession and its third clean sweep in succession.

Blackgold Women (5 gold)

800 metres

Savinova (Russia, Olympic Champion 2012 and World Champion 2011) was the strong ante-post favourite. Montano (USA) led at the bell in a fast 56.06 – which she could not sustain, eventually collapsing 4th at the tape. The relatively unsung Eunice Sum (Kenya) had glided into second at the bell, with Savinova 5th. The pair began to battle with 250 metres to run, but Sum’s 1,500 metre strength and her pace enabled her to resist Savinova’s finish with a strong run to the tape in 1.57.39 (a 2 seconds improvement on her lifetime best!). In the final individual track race of the championships Sum had secured an unexpected women’s gold for Kenya (its third in Moscow) and Africa its 5th women’s 800 metres gold.

3,000 metres steeplechase

Kenya came into the race with no previous gold from any global championships – in an event in which the Kalenjin men had made the steeplechase their own fiefdom! Here, Zarakova (Olympic champion) was absent injured. Micah Chemos Cheywa (the Diamond League leader and erstwhile World Championship bronze medallist) was, thus, favourite in a field dominated by Kenyan (Jepkemboi, Chepkurui) and Ethiopian (Assefa, Ayalew, Diro) talent. Predictably, within one lap, these runners dictated events, with Ayalew leading from Cheywa through a fast first kilometre in 3.01. Thereafter Cheywa led from various African permutations. Assefa fell…and somehow responded…. Cheywa intensified the pace to emulate Izinkulu’s 2005 gold medal. Chepkurui took the silver and Assefa a brave bronze for Ethiopia – and provided an African clean sweep (as Africans filled the top 6 places!)

5,000 metres

Neither Cheruiyot (defending 5,000m and 10,000m Champion) nor Tirunesh Dibaba was a participant – leaving Defar, twice Olympic Champion, as clear favourite amongst the teams of Kenyans and Ethiopians. A slow 800 metres (2.35) played into Defar’s hands (a clear resonance with Farah!). Kibiwot, Dibaba and Chege variously lead the field, with Defar always favourably positioned. With a kilometre to run, Ayana led from 2 Kenyans and 3 Ethiopians and continued through the next 2 laps to the bell. However, with 200 metres to go, Defar sprinted away to a comfortably repeated Olympic/World double, leading Africa’s 5th consecutive clean sweep, with Mercy Cherono (Kenya) second and Ayana third – Africans filling the first five places. It was Africa’s 6th successive gold at the event!

10,000 metres

Given the participation of the incomparable Dibaba (albeit not Defar) the 10,000 metres exuded a sense of a chronicle of a race foretold. Joined by the team of Yeshaneh and Oljira and the challenging Kenyans (Cherono, and Chebet), Dibaba ran almost a mirror-image of her London 2012 success. Flanagan (USA) was an early leader, followed by Niiya (Japan) and a procession of the Africans. As in the Olympics, Niiya led through 5,000 metres (now from Dibaba, Eshete, Chebet, Cherono). At 9,000 metres, Niiya (poignantly distraught at the end) led in vain from 2 Kenyans and 2 Ethiopians. Awaiting her moment, as in London 2012, Dibaba stormed away with a final lap of 59.96 to clinch her 3rd successive 10,000 metres World Championship gold: and she has never been beaten at 10,000 metres. Africans filled the top six places – Gladys Cherono (Kenya)_ and Oljira (Ethiopia) providing Africa’s third consecutive clean sweep: and Africa’s 9th consecutive success at the event.

Marathon

On the opening day of the championships, it was inevitable that the marathon was anticipated as a showdown between strong Ethiopian and Kenyan teams, with both the Olympic champion, Tiki Gelana, and the defending World Champion, Edna Kiplagat in the field. As it was, Straneo (Italy, aged 37) made most of the running, leading for much of the race with Kipketer, Kabuu, Melkamu and Kebede in pursuit. Neither champion was prominent. Gelana dropped out within the first hour and Kiplagat trailed 15th, half a minute behind, though she gradually joined the leaders, as the pace slowed. Remarkably, Straneo continued to front run as various challengers faded, leaving Melkamu, Kiplagat and Fukuchi in the leading pack after 25 Km. At 35 kilometres, Straneo had seen off all challengers – apart form Kiplagat, who, with 1.5 kilometres to go, strong and now confident, used her experience to accelerate smoothly to victory in 2.25.44. She had become the first woman to defend her world title (emulating Gharib 2003/2005 and Kirui 2009/2011). Kenya had taken the first gold of the games, with Straneo silver for Italy.

Summary

Overall, Africa has now won 63 men’s World Championship gold medals (to go with their 46 Olympic gold): and 35 women’s World Championship gold (and 18 Olympic gold). Kenya has 43 gold in total: Ethiopia 22.

There were four clean sweeps in Moscow 2013:

  • Men: Marathon
  • Women: 3,000m steeplechase; 5,000metres; 10,000 metres.

Ezekiel Kemboi (Steeplechase) and Tirunesh Dibaba (10,000m) joined the triple winners of a single event.

Stephen Kiprotich joined the eleven other African men who hold Olympic and World gold medals.

Dibaba further consolidated her position (with Kenenisa Bekele) as top of the AFRICAN ATHLETICS HALL OF FAME.