DAEGU, South Korea, August 28- Kenya’s female distance runners got off to a perfect start at the world championships, feeding off each other to claim all six medals on offer on the opening day of action.
In a stark warning to east African rivals Ethiopia, Kenyan women dominated both the marathon and the 10,000m on Saturday, and expectations are high that both the women’s and men’s team will win a lot more medals in coming days.
First up on Saturday was Edna Kiplagat, who claimed marathon gold in 2hr 28min 43sec as she led Priscah Jeptoo and Sharon Cherop across the line on the streets of Daegu.
The evening session saw a superb lesson in superior team tactics pay off when the four Kenyans in the race worked together effectively and saw Vivian Cheruiyot claim gold in the 10,000m in 30min 48.98sec.
Fellow countrywomen Sally Kipyego and 2009 champion Linet Masai completed the podium to round off an incredible opening day’s medal haul for Kenya.
“It’s great to win gold in my first championship race over 10,000m and with a personal best,” said Cheruiyot.
“We were inspired by the marathon girls and we wanted to achieve the same.
“Ethiopians are always strong and we tried to push in the second half. There was one remaining with one lap to go and we pushed even more to win 1-2-3.”
Cheruiyot is the reigning world 5000m champion and acknowledged that she was now nicely set up for her bid for a 5000-10,000m double.
“I now have time to relax and jog before starting my title defence on Tuesday. I am confident and Kenya will continue to do great in Daegu.”
Earlier, marathon silver medallist Priscah Jeptoo had spoken of her pride in running for Kenya.
“I did not expect the silver. I even did not expect to be selected to the Kenyan team. It is unbelievable but it was not easy. It was very humid out there but I fought for my country.
“I hope that this result will give motivation to our Kenyan team members to win the next medals,” she added.
Kenya’s credentials as the world’s leading distance running powerhouse could be further etched in stone come the end of these championships on September 4.
The team is brimming with talent: a men’s steeplechase squad of Brimin Kipruto, Ezekiel Kemboi and Richard Mateelong; milers Silas Kiplagat, Asbel Kiprop and Nancy Lagat; 800m stars David Rudisha, Jackson Kivuva and Kirwa Yego, and Janeth Jepkosgei; and Cheruiyot, Masai, Syliva Kibet and Mercy Cherono to go in the women’s 5000m.
Along with the men’s marathon team of Abel Kirui, Eliud Kiptanui, Vincent Kipruto, Kiptoo Kolum and David Tumo, team Kenya could be looking at a huge medal haul in the nine-day champs in South Korea.
Linet Masai admitted after her bronze placing in the 10,000m that she was upset not to have retained her title, but hinted that team performance was more important.
“I’m disappointed because I was unable to defend my title but I am happy to win a medal,” she said.
“And I am happy Kenya won all the medals. The marathon team gave us good moral.
“We had a team strategy: to share the rounds in leading. What can I achieve in the 5000m? I don’t know, it is my first time.”