By Chris Lotsbom, Race Results Weekly: With a bold, late-race move and a little luck, Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba took home the 5000m title at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada today.
Dueling with Mercy Cherono, the World Junior Cross Country and 3000m Champion from Kenya for most of the race, Dibaba was faced with the challenge of beating one of the best junior runners on the planet- not an easy task considering Cherono’s excellent form as of late.
Similar to the tactics used in the 3000m on Monday, Cherono grabbed the lead early and looked to be in cruise control mode. By the 3000m mark it was clear that it would be a classic head-to-head race, yet another duel between Africa’s two dominant distance running nations.
Knowing that she would have to make a move before the sprint speed of Cherono became a threat, Dibaba pulled even with 800m to go, showing she had what it takes to win.
But soon Cherono reacted. Both would trade the lead for the next quarter mile, taking the bell together.
That’s when luck would strike for Dibaba. As Cherono grabbed the lead and seemed to be pulling away, her feet skimmed the inside rail of the Stade Moncton 2010 track, causing her to stumble and lose momentum.
Dibaba reacted instantaneously, taking the lead and not looking back until after finishing in 15:08.06, a new championship record.
“I knew I could pass her with 100m left. I have better speed than her over the last 100m, so I stayed back deliberately,” said Dibaba, who earned her first World Junior title.
“When she stumbled, I had never given up hope and had planned to kick over the last 100m, so I didn’t focus on her stumbling.”
“It’s not how I wanted to finish,” said Cherono, who finished in 15:09.19 to nab the silver medal. “I stumbled and it cost me the race.”
Kenya’s Alice Nawowuna, who ran the race barefoot, took the bronze in a personal best of 15:17.39.
Emily Sisson of the United States completed a successful 3000m/5000m double at the Championships by running 15:48.91 personal best. Her time lowers the previous American High School record of 15:52.88 set by Caitlin Chock back in 2004. Running the 5000-meters as an afterthought following her personal best in the 3-K on Monday, the Missouri prep star was relaxed enough to take sixth place.
“I didn’t even know what the national record was, and I am so excited to break it at this big meet,” said Sisson, who attended Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, Mo. “The crowd was awesome. I didn’t think it could beat Monday’s crowd, but it was great. I was more excited than nervous, because I came in with my focus on the 3000m, and this was just for fun. It was different being able to hang of their pace and not have to do all the work.”