It’s a sixth championship and counting for Kenya as the latest cast of Martin Mathathi, Peter Kirui and Paul Tanui trailed in fourth, fifth and ninth as Ibrahim Jeilan, Mo Farah and Imane Merga occupied the medal positions.
“We tried our best but we lost, we tried all what we could but they were faster than us and we have lost like men. What I can tell Kenyans is not to give up hope, I shall still try to bring this medal home,” Mathathi, who won bronze in Osaka, said after racing 27:23.87.
Kirui, who romped home in a career best 27:25.63, admitted his maiden outing at the grand stage had given him hard lessons on what it takes to medal, let alone to be crowned world champion.
“The race was very tough anyway. The man from Eritrea put a pace of 60 (seconds), 61 and 62 at the start and this made things very difficult on us. Now, I will go and put more effort in speed work in the last 400m or 200m,” he confessed.
“I’m happy with my performance even though I did not perform the way I was expecting. The humidity was high and it was a bit hot but I have learned how to run at a World Championships and when I return, I know what to do,” Tanui, who stopped the timer in 27:54.03, added.
In truth, the Kenyan trio did their best to give up a fight but on the day, they found themselves inferior to the opposition in the final that had the sub-plot of four-time and defending champion, Kenenisa Bekele, from Ethiopia mid-race to prove he is a mortal after all.
Just like the Berlin final two years ago, Eritrean silver medallist, Zersenay Tadese, took little time to crank up the pace from the second kilometre after Kirui had led the field through the first in 2:57.10.
For the next 5000m, only Tanui, then Kirui took over at the front as Bekele who was bidding for a record fifth title in a race he has never tasted defeat was forced to retire as the competition got intense.
Merga, the Mathathi took over the lead as the business end of the race beckoned with the Osaka bronze winner crossing the 9000m mark ahead of the seven who had a shout for a medal in 24:46.40.
With the bell approaching, Farah, the world leader, who was to some a runaway favourite for the top medal, broke into a sustained kick after assuming the lead with two-laps to go.
The Briton pulled away at the back straight and looked set to hand his country a first ever long distance Worlds medal as he motored to the finish but Jeilan, started crawling back the gap as they came for the final curve.
In the homestretch, Farah continued his spirited run for the top medal but with 40m to go, the charging Jeilan caught up, pulled alongside and to the consternation of the stadium, had the momentum to race home for gold in 27:13.81.
“Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! (God is great! God is great!),” the new world title holder who won the World Junior 10000m title in 2006 and added the junior men World Cross title in 2008 said.
Besides him, Farah held his hands on his clean shaven head, contemplating what might have been as he ended up on the long end to an epic finish.
Merga came home in 27:19.14 for bronze.
– Mutwiri Mutuota is reporting for Capital Sport from Daegu, South Korea