August 27, 2007

Ailing Dibaba survives fall to retain 10,000m crown

TIRUNESH Dibaba overcame a stomach bug and a fall to win back-to-back 10,000m titles for Ethiopia and a fourth overall at the World Championships yesterday.

True grit: Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia approaches the finish line to win the 10,000m yesterday. – Reuters
Dibaba, 21, beat Elvan Abeylegesse of Turkey with her famous last-lap kick despite tripping midway through the race.

The other titles on the opening day of the championships went to Kenya's Luke Kibet in the men's marathon and Reese Hoffa in the shot put.

Earlier, world record holder Asafa Powell looked awesome while his main rival Tyson Gay had an awful start as both reached the 100m semi-finals.

The Jamaican Powell stormed out of the blocks and clocked 10.01 even though he considerably slowed down after 70 metres.

Gay then started terribly after a false start before recovering in 10.06.

Today's semi-final and final will be attended by Japanese Emperor Akihito, who earlier yesterday officially opened the nine-day championships in which almost 2,000 athletes from 203 countries compete for 47 world titles.

The Emperor was no longer present when Dibaba, 21, kicked at the bell to win in 31:55.41. Abeylegesse clocked 31:59.40 and American Kara Goucher was a surprise bronze medallist in 32:02.05.

It was her fourth world title following 5,000m gold in 2003 and a 5,000m and 10,000m double in 2005. Dibaba will also compete in the 5,000m in Osaka in search of an unprecedented repeat of the double.

“It was a unique victory for me and our nation,” said Dibaba, who has been plagued for two days by a stomach problem.

“I felt sick. I thought we would lose as a nation but I didn't want that to happen.”

Kibet won Kenya's first marathon gold in 20 years in the hottest race and slowest in World Championship history. The only other Kenyan win was 1987 from Douglas Wakiihuri.

Kibet, 24, broke a small leader group at the 30km mark and won the classic 42.195km race in 2'15:59.

Kenya-born Qatari Mubarak Hassan Shami got the silver in 2:17:18 and Swiss ace Viktor Rothlin received the bronze in 2:17:25.

“It has been a long while for Kenya. I felt comfortable despite the hot weather. I know it is my eighth marathon and I am proud to win the gold for my country,” said Kibet, who earlier this year got his first city marathon win in Vienna.

Hoffa beat fellow-American Adam Nelson into a familiar second place in the shot put final with a massive 22.04m in his third attempt.

The defending champion Nelson had to settle for silver like in 2001 and 2003.

The 2003 winner Andrei Mikhnevich was third for Belarus with 21.27m.

Swedish heroine Carolina Kluft was on course for a third heptathlon gold in a row with an overnight lead on 4,162 points from Ukraine season leader Lyudmila Blonska (4,014).

The heptathlon is to be completed today, with the 100m. The men's 20km walk and the women's shot put are the other finals. – dpa

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