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Previews10 Jul 2022

WCH Oregon22 preview: 10,000m


Hellen Obiri and Selemon Barega (© Getty Images)

Women's 10,000m

Timetable | world rankings | 2022 world list | world all-time list | how it works

Sifan Hassan comes into the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 with as much an air of mystery as a shield of invincibility.

The flying Dutchwoman who soared to that stunning 1500m-10,000m double at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, and onwards to 5000m and 10,000m gold and 1500m bronze at last year’s Olympic Games, had been grounded from the competitive arena in 2022 until a timely return on Friday 8 July.

According to her manager, Jos Hermens, the 29-year-old has been recovering from the mental and physical toll exerted by the exceptional workload she undertook in Tokyo.

“She is not a machine,” Hermens told the Dutch broadcaster NOS. “She has needed time to recover from her super 2021 season. It will be a race against time to be sharp in Eugene but it will be fine. Sifan only goes for the highest competition.”

In the Stumptown Twilight meeting in Portland on Friday, Hassan dusted off the cobwebs, reeling off 73-second laps before closing with a 67.40 final circuit to ease to victory in the 5000m in 15:13.41.

Sifan Hassan at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019

Sifan Hassan at the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 (© Getty Images)

Hassan – who returned to training deliberately late after her Olympic exertions and suffered a minor calf injury in March – is entered for the 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 but intends to drop one of the events. She and coach Tim Rowberry will make the decision after reflecting on her Portland performance.

If she chooses to defend her 10,000m crown, the big question will be whether she will have sufficient sharpness to repeat the devastating sprint finishes that took her to gold in Doha and Tokyo – and to maintain an unbeaten record at 25 laps that stands at five races.

If she does, Hassan would become only the second woman to successfully defend the title, after Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, who achieved back-to-back wins in Helsinki in 2005 and Osaka in 2007 – and who also triumphed in Moscow in 2013. Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot won the title in 2011 and regained it from Dibaba in 2015.

The lack of a killer finish from Hassan in Eugene would probably open the door for Letesenbet Gidey, the Ethiopian who obliterated Hassan’s two-day-old world record of 29:06.82 with a stunning 29:01.03 in Hengelo in June last year.

In Doha in 2019 and in Tokyo last year, Gidey was thwarted by Hassan’s blistering kick, taking silver and bronze respectively.

Gidey has contested just three races since her sensational 1:02:52 half marathon world record run in Valencia last October. A touted attack on her 5000m world record at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Eugene on 28 May fell short when the 24-year-old tailed off in the last 1000m, finishing a distant runner up (14:24.59) to fellow Ethiopian Ejgayehu Taye, who won in 14:12.98.

Then, in her sole 10,000m outing of the season, Gidey was content to concentrate on winning the Ethiopian trial within the FBK Games race in Hengelo, clocking 30:44.27, while Britain’s Eilish McColgan blasted to a 30:19.02 world lead.

At the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Oslo on 16 June, Gidey finished third over 5000m in 14:26.92 behind compatriots Dawit Seyaum, the 2016 world indoor 1500m silver medallist, and Gudaf Tsegay, the world 1500m and Olympic 5000m bronze medal winner.

Taye has the potential to challenge for gold. Bronze medallist over 3000m at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22 in March, she made her 10,000m debut in Hengelo, finishing third behind McColgan and Gidey in 30:44.68.

Bosena Mulatie, 20, secured the third Ethiopian team spot with fifth place in Hengelo.

Fourth in the Dutch race was Kenya’s Margaret Kipkemboi. She took world 5000m silver in Doha three years ago behind Hellen Obiri, who has the ability to capitalise on any shortfall on the part of Hassan and Gidey.

Obiri missed out on a 10,000m medal at the 2019 World Championships and the Olympic Games in Tokyo, finishing fifth and fourth respectively, but the 32-year-old has the pedigree of a two-time world title winner at 5000m. She finished four seconds clear of the in-form McColgan in the Great Manchester Run 10km road event in May, clocking 30:15.

The 31-year-old McColgan will have genuine ambitions of becoming only the third European to make the podium in the past quarter of a century (following Paula Radcliffe’s silver in 1999 and Jo Pavey’s bronze in 2007) – if not of emulating her mother and coach, Liz, who took gold in Tokyo in 1991.

Her winning time in Hengelo, 30:19.02, smashed the Scottish record her mother set on the same track in 1991 and elevated her from 24th to fifth on the European all-time list – behind Hassan, Radcliffe, Lornah Kiplagat and Ingrid Kristiansen. The Briton, however, has since been obliged to overcome a two-week bout of illness that prompted her DNF in the 5000m in Oslo.

The entry list also includes 2016 African 5000m champion Sheila Kiprotich of Kenya, Germany’s world 5000m bronze medallist Konstanze Klosterhalfen and 2015 bronze medallist Emily Infield of the USA.


Men's 10,000m

Timetable | world rankings | 2022 world list | world all-time list | how it works

Rewind to 30 July last year and the sound of the bell in the Olympic men’s 10,000m final in Tokyo. The seven runners who were still in contention then, and who proceeded to fill the first seven places, are all on the entry list for the 25-lap event at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.

On that occasion, no one had the answer to Selemon Barega’s decisive turn of speed. A 53.9-second final circuit brought the 21-year-old Ethiopian home 0.21 clear of Joshua Cheptegei, with the world record-holder and world champion’s Ugandan teammate Jacob Kiplimo in the bronze medal position ahead of Barega’s teammate Berihu Aregawi, Grant Fisher of the US, Canada’s Mo Ahmed and Kenyan Rogers Kwemoi.

This time, 12 months on, might the outcome be hugely different?

Barega’s rivals will undoubtedly hope so. They might even draw a little encouragement from the form book.

The world 5000m silver medallist was not at his sharpest in the Wanda Diamond League 5000m races in Eugene and Rome, finishing third in the former and fourth in the latter. He did, though, win the Ethiopian 10,000m trial in Hengelo on 5 June, clocking 26:44.73, and was a Diamond League 5000m winner in Paris on 18 June.

Then there is the small matter of the killer kick that took Barega to Olympic gold, and the sustained version, from 600 metres out, that that earned him the world indoor 3000m title ahead of compatriot Lamecha Girma, the world and Olympic steeplechase silver medallist, in Belgrade in March.

When you happen to possess 3:32 speed at 1500m and 7:26 at 3000m (indoors in the latter instance), you are going to be one formidable nut to crack in the heat of major championship battle.

The key could well be the ability of any of Barega’s rivals to neutralise his sprint finish by drawing the sting out of it before it gets to the business end of the contest.

It is three years now since Cheptegei clocked his world records at 10,000m (26:11.00) and 5000m (12:35.36) but the 25-year-old won the Olympic 5000m in Tokyo with a 55-second last lap.

Joshua Cheptegei wins the 10,000m title at the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019

Joshua Cheptegei wins the 10,000m title at the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 (© Getty Images)

His only track race thus far was the promotional 5000m at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Eugene on 27 May, which he won in 12:57.99. He has the motivation of potentially becoming the fourth back-to-back world 10,000m champion, after Haile Gebrselassie, Kenenisa Bekele and Mo Farah.

Kiplimo’s challenge should not be discounted. Blessed with a range that stretched to the 57:11 world half marathon record, Cheptegei’s teammate might have been surprised by the South Sudanese refugee Dominic Lobalu in the 3000m at the Wanda Diamond League on 30 June, but the 21-year-old clocked 7:29.55 in his only track race of 2022 and, like Baraga, boasts a 7:26 PB for that distance.

Aregawi broke Cheptegei’s world 5km record with 12:49 in Barcelona on New Year’s Eve and turned in a superb solo performance to win the Diamond League 5000m race in Eugene in May, winning in 12:50.05 ahead of Samuel Terefa (13:06.86) and Barega (13:07.30). He finished third in the Ethiopian 10,000m trial in Hengelo, behind Barega and Tadese Worku.

The 20-year-old Worku might be an unknown quantity at senior international level but he won the world U20 title at 3000m in Nairobi last year and was runner-up in the U20 race at the World Cross Country Championships in Arhus in 2019.

Ahmed has finished sixth in the past two global 10,000m finals, and was also eighth at the World Championships in 2017 and ninth in Moscow back in 2013. The Canadian has also earned medals in the past two global 5000m finals, taking Olympic silver behind Cheptegei in Tokyo and world bronze behind Muktar Edris and Barega in Doha.

Like Fisher, Ahmed is coached by Jerry Schumacher at the Bowerman Track Club in Portland, Oregon. Born in Canada, Fisher broke Galen Rupp’s US indoor 5000m record at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational in Boston in February, clocking 12:53.73.

He holds the world lead at 10,000m, courtesy of the 26:33.84 US record he set at the Sound Running Track Meet in San Juan in May. Ahmed was second in that race in 26:34.14.

Strap yourself in and sit back for what promises to be a fascinating 25-lap battle to behold.

Simon Turnbull for World Athletics