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Last Night In Doha!                                                                         2019 IAAF World Athletics Champions


Doha, Qatar
September 28th, 2019

The 10,000 meter final is always a war – a clash of race plans, differing views, special tactics, and novel strategies – all to be revealed as the race unfolds. Tonight’s final of the women’s 10,000 meter had every twist and turn in the book as the favorites tried to rattle their fellow competitors with easy paces; unexpected and irregular pace changes; different pack positioning; and finally a powerful – perhaps even desperate – late race surge in an attempt steal the crown in the waning laps.

22 world class athletes burst from the starting line as the 25 lap final got under way in air-conditioned comfort. Germany’s Alina Reh immediately went to the front as she towed the field through the first circuit in a leisurely 80 seconds. The field remained bunched as the pack went by 2 kilos in 6:20 – 31:40 pace. Shortly after 3 kilometers, Kenya’s Rosemary Wanjiru had seen enough and bolted into the lead as 5 other competitors covered her move. The lead pack of 6 quickly separated from the field as American hopefuls Molly Huddle and Emily Sisson, in 8th and 13th place respectively, were content to remain nestled in the chase pack. At the halfway mark hit in 15:32.70, the field was bunched once again as 7 athletes – with Kenya’s Agnes Tirop, Hellen Obiri, and Wanjiru, Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi, Netsanet Gudeta, and Letsenbet Gidey, and the pre-race favorite Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands – set the tempo with Americans Sisson (9th) Huddle (10th) 30 meters back. On the 17th lap, a momentary burst by Obiri only dropped Gudeta as the racing began in earnest. With the kilo pace dropping down the low 3’s, surging and lead changes were frequent as the 6 women fighting for the medals raced a 3:05 8th kilometer to reach 8K’s in 24:14. Suddenly, and without warning, Gidey threw down a decisive sprint with 3½ laps remaining. It was a tactic that surprised the others, especially the Hassan who was momentarily caught flat-footed. All in, Gidey, who came into this race as the world leader, knew this was her push for gold. A determined Hassan set sail after her Ethiopian rival, passing others along the way. A 65 second clocking on the penultimate lap powered the world record holder in the mile past Gidey just before the bell lap. Gidey clawed back as the duo battled down the final backstretch. But Hassan had one final gear and her downshift with 220 meters remaining proved to be the difference. With a closing lap in 61 seconds, Hassan crossed the line in a world-leading 30:17.62 while Gidey earned the silver in a personal best 30:21.23. Tirop rounded out the medalists, finishing 3rd in a personal best of 30:25.20. The Americans finished 8-9-10 as a late race close by USA’s Marielle Hall [personal best of 31:05.71] pushed her ahead of American record holder Huddle [31:07.24] and Sisson [31:12.56].

Fastest American Marielle Hall was upbeat about her 8th place finish. “I think the big goal was to make the Olympic standard. So I was so happy to accomplish that, to get that time, a PR. Personal and for me, my goal was to compete well against those running, because that is what I have to do to make the team next year, just taking a step forward at this stage. So I am really happy. I’m hoping I can improve on 8th place in the years to come.” Hall likes how she handled the end game. “With about 5 laps to go, I just felt like I was feeling good, ‘this is it’ kind of thing. Might as well try. It I die a little bit, hopefully I still get the time.” She did.

American record holder Molly Huddle, who aimed to be the top American finisher, was candid about this championship final. “I couldn’t beat Marielle today,” admitted the 8-time national distance champion. “I thought I could outkick her. I think I pushed a little too hard to catch the two girls in front of me. And in the last 100 it was just like not there.” Before departing, the Olympian commented on Hassan’s final 5000 meters covered in 14:44. “Unbelievable,” exclaimed Huddle. “I can’t match that.”

Mobbed in the mixed zone, the new champion reflected on Gidey’s rush in the final mile, “I know that is going to happen,” revealed the 2-time European champion. “I know they’re going to go; they’re going to kick; they’re going to pick up every last bit of speed to try and catch me. They have to do this. I would do the same if I was them.” The 26-year-old winner was candid about her plan going into the race. “I have no plan. My plan is to stay with them. And beat them at last. I am no longer just a runner. When the Kenyan tried to go hard, I was wishing just to stay with them and then kick the last lap. That was my plan.” Before leaving Sifan Hassan was asked about her participation in additional events at these championships. “I get asked that question a thousand times. I don’t know. I want to run the 1500 meters. My coach [Alberto Salazar] wants me to run the 5000 meters. We have to talk tonight.” Many are awaiting the outcome of that conference. / Dave Hunter /

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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