DAEGU, South Korea, September 4 – Dominant Kenya made it a stunning marathon double on the closing day as men’s defending champion Abel Kirui destroyed the field to win the men’s event to add to their victory in the women’s race.
In yet another show of distance running power by the African nation, Kirui crossed the line in 2hr 07min 38sec, nearly two-and-a-half minutes ahead of team-mate Vincent Kipruto (2:10.06) — the biggest winning margin in world championships history.
Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa, who had been locked in a battle for second with Kipruto, faded, taking bronze in 2:10.32.
Kirui’s time was the second fastest in world championships history, meaning he now owns the top two times. The previous record winning margin was 1min 19sec.
At the half-way mark through the streets of downtown Daegu, four Kenyans wearing green and red vests were in the lead, and at one point they were strung out in a line across the road.
And at 25km Kirui, Kipruto and team-mate Eliud Kiptanui had only Lilesa and Morocco’s Abderrahime Bouramdane for company as the paced picked up.
But when Kirui decided to turn on the gas, striking out alone at the 28km mark, his rivals could not live with him and he had established an 11sec lead over Kiptanui by the 30km mark.
His 25km to 30km split of 14min 18sec was the fastest ever 5km split at a world championships.
Kirui did a celebratory dance after crossing the finishing line of the race run in cloudy conditions with humidity lower than in previous days in the South Korean city.
Ethiopia’s Gebregziabher Gebremariam, the winner of last year’s New York marathon, dropped out after just 38 minutes of the race, sitting on the road and signalling he could not go on.
Kenya’s men’s marathon 1-2 showing adds to medals cleansweeps in the women’s marathon and 10,000m earlier in the championships, in which distance running has been dominated by the east Africans.
Vivian Cheruiyot claimed a 5000-10,000m double, there was gold for David Rudisha in the men’s 800m, and an Ezekiel Kemboi-led 1-2 in the men’s 3000m steeplechase.
On Saturday Asbel Kiprop added the world 1500m title to his Olympic crown, leading another Kenyan 1-2.
The marathon course is divided into two laps of a 15km course and one lap of 12.195km through Daegu, South Korea’s fourth largest city with a population of more than 2.5 million.
Later in the afternoon session, Mo Farah will bid to put his disappointment in the 10,000m behind him when he takes to the track for the 5000m final.
The Briton could only manage silver in the longer event but is one of the clear favourites over 5000m.
“I will give it 110 percent and hope to deliver a good performance to make Britain proud,” Farah said in a blog for British broadcaster itv.com.
Referring to the 10,000m, Farah, who moved with his family to Britain from Somalia when he was eight years old, said: “It was not the colour of medal I was hoping for and in all honesty I felt very disappointed with missing out on the gold.
“It is of course still a good achievement for me, considering I have never competed in the 10,000m in a world championship before and wasn’t even ranked in the world’s top ten last year. However, it would have been amazing to finish on top of the world at the 10,000m this year.”
Farah’s British teammate Phillips Idowu could make it double gold for next year’s Olympic hosts when he defends his triple jump title.
Caster Semenya, looking to put controversy over her true gender behind her, will also be on the track in her bid to retain her 800m crown after cruising through her heat and semi-final.
The 20-year-old South African will face tough opposition from Russia’s reigning world indoor and European champion Mariya Savinova and Kenya’s 2007 world champion Janeth Jepkosgei.
Another healthy medal showing will further confirm Kenyan men and women’s top billing as distance running kings and queens.
The evening’s session ends with the finals of the men and women’s 4x100m relay events.
Usain Bolt and his Jamaican teammates will be strong favourites for the men’s relay.
The United States will look to reverse their fortunes after a disqualification in the Berlin worlds for the men, while the women failed to finish their heat after third-leg runner Muna Lee pulled up injured.