The NN Running Team excelled at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon by winning two gold and one bronze medal. We reflect on their successes at the reimagined and iconic Hayward Field.
Letesenbet takes maiden global track title
Letesenbet Gidey, the world record-holder for the 5000m and 10,000m claimed her first global track title in a compelling 25-lap showdown.
The Ethiopian distance maestro has proved an outstanding breaker of world records – she also holds the world half marathon record – but had yet to crack the ultimate global track prize after winning 10,000m silver at the 2019 World Championships in Doha and bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Yet in the opening track final of the 2022 World Athletics Championships, Letesenbet used all her track smarts to outpace her rivals and claim a memorable gold medal success by 0.08 from Kenyan Hellen Obiri.
For much of the first half of the race, the 24-year-old athlete was content to sit in midfield until making a move towards the front of the pack around 6km to take turns on sharing the pace with countrywoman Ejgayehu Taye.
Slowly cranking up the pace over the final kilometer she took her turn at the front, although hitting the bell in fourth – she was one of maybe a dozen women still in medal contention.
Around the penultimate bend, Letesenbet surged to the front and entering the home straight held a slender lead.
Using her speed and strength she repelled all challengers, narrowly holding off Obiri in a time of 30:09.94. Margaret Kipkemboi of Kenya grabbed bronze with Olympic champion Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands in fourth.
A delighted Letesenbet said: “The dream came true, this victory is even more important to me than a world record. I was thinking about winning this gold since 2019.”
**Letesebet also competed in the women’s 5000 final finishing fifth in 14:47.98.
King Joshua reigns once more
Joshua Cheptegei became the fourth man in history to successfully defend a world 10,000m title with an imperious performance at Hayward Field.
Eight years ago at the same iconic US venue, the Ugandan first announced himself to the world with a victory over the 25-lap distance at the World U20 Championships.
And Joshua once again demonstrated his outrageous ability – not to mention a love for Tracktown – by outsprinting the opposition to take gold.
Hitting the halfway split in 14:01.32 several athletes took their turn at the front including the eventual gold medallist, but none of the moves were sufficiently decisive to cause major damage to the lead group, and with two laps remaining eight men remained in medal contention.
It was Joshua, however, who made the key move. Leading the field around the final lap he could not be surpassed, securing gold in 27:27.43 – thanks to a blistering 53.42 final lap.
Kenyan Stanley Mburu (27:27.90) grabbed silver – 0.09 clear of bronze medallist Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda.
I knew that if I get into the last fight, I can control it and I could speed it up.
"I did not aim to run really fast because of the heat, the sun was very strong, but I was able to get stronger and keep it faster and faster.
"It was very emotional for me to come back to the USA where I started my international career in 2014 (winning the world junior 10,000m title in Eugene).”
*Later in the program Joshua returned to compete in the men’s 5000m and finished ninth in 13:13.12.
Lonah takes a brilliant bronze
Lonah Chemtai Salpeter, the ninth fastest female marathon runner in history, collected an outstanding bronze medal in the women’s marathon on day four of the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
The 33-year-old Israeli athlete had suffered a couple of disappointing performances at recent major championships failing to finish at the 2019 World Championships in Doha and dropping from medal contention to 66th at the Tokyo Olympics after struggling with stomach cramps.
However, on a sunny morning in Oregon, Lonah delivered an intelligent performance to earn her spot on the podium and her maiden World Championship medal.
At halfway, the 2018 European 10,000m champion sat fifth some 20 seconds off a lead group led by Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh.
By 30km she was more than a minute off the lead pack but still sat fifth with Eritrean Nazret Weldu for company.
However, after Yeshaneh dropped out of the race and Kenyan Angela Tanui faded, it was then a straight fight between Lonah and Weldu for bronze.
In the final 3km, Lonah, the 2020 Tokyo Marathon champion, gradually open up a slight gap and she crossed the line third in 2:20:18 for bronze –10 seconds clear of Weldu. Gold went to Ethiopia’s Gotytom Gebreslase.
*In the men’s marathon NN Running Team star Geoffrey Kamworor produced a spirited effort to finish fifth in 2:07:14.
All pictures: BSR Agency.