World Champs (Day 9): Kenya Wins First Gold in the Last Race

By Jörg Wenig
Benjamin Limo
Benjamin Limo

Kenya’s runners finally snatched a gold medal in the very last race of the World Championships in Helsinki. In the 5,000-meter final Benjamin Limo triumphed with a strong final kick in a time of 13:32.55 minutes. Sileshi Sihine (Ethiopia/13:32.81) won the silver medal, while the Australian Craig Mottram won bronze in 13:32.96.

In a slow race the whole field stayed together until close to the finish. There was just a 10 second gap between the first and the last of the 15 runners. Fabiano Joseph Naasi (Tansania) was leading at the 3,000m mark (8:27.74). Shortly after the 4,000m mark a European took up the leading position: Marius Bakken (Norway). But both didn’t play a role as the pace finally was picked up. Defending champion Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya), who finished fourth (13:33.04) in the end, was leading in the beginning of the last lap together with Sileshi Sihine and Craig Mottram. Only in the last 100 meters Benjamin Limo came through from fourth to first with his final sprint. Craig Mottram just edged past Eliud Kipchoge in the last few meters. “I knew that I would be strong in the end, I was in good shape. I am very proud of this medal,” said Benjamin Limo. “I am happy for the bronze medal—in the last 250 meters I gave everything I had,” explained Craig Mottram.

There was a second double winner, next to Tirunesh Dibaba (Ethiopia), in the running events—Moroccan born Rashid Ramzi (Bahrain).After his 1500m title he also took the 800m in 1:44.24 minutes. At the end of the last bend Rashid Ramzi past his competitors and won. Olympic Champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy’s kick came too late. The Russian just finished second in 1:44.51 while William Yiampoy (Kenya) was third (1:44.55). “I learned from my mistakes in the Olympic Games. I was prepared very well,” said Rashid Ramzi, who didn’t make the final in Athens.

In the 1500m the Russian middle distance runners had a double triumph. Tatyana Tomashova won the final sprint in 4:00.35 minutes in front of her countrywomen Olga Yegorova (4:01.46). Third was Bouchra Ghezielle (France) in 4:02.45. “We didn’t have a specific tactic, and I didn’t know what the others would do. But we all knew that a victory would be possible for us,” explained Tatyana Tomashova. Fourth was Yelena Soboleva (Russia) in 4:02.48.