Sally Kipyego wins silver in 10k, collecting OTC Elite’s first world championship medal
8/26/2011 12:00 AM
Eaton takes Day 1 decathlon lead and Symmonds wins first round heat
OTC Elite head coach Mark Rowland was nervous on Saturday night in Daegu, South Korea, watching his athlete, Sally Kipyego, take the lead at the 6,000-meter mark of the 10,000-meter race. This was the World Championships, two past world champions and the African record holder were right behind her, and for about 50 meters of the race, Rowland wasn’t sure if Kipyego would be able to lead and still have enough strength to kick for the win.
Then he was relieved, as 2009 World Champion, and Kipyego’s Kenyan teammate, Linet Masai regained the lead, and Kipyego hung on—the rhythm of her relaxed stride never skipping a beat. Minutes later Rowland was all smiles as Kipyego followed another teammate, Vivian Cheruiyot, through the bell and into the final 400, leaving the others behind and racing for gold. Cheruiyot got the victory in 30 minutes, 48.98 seconds, but Kipyego was right there for silver in 30:50.04.
“You never know how it’s going to turn out, and I was a bit anxious,” Rowland said. “She took the lead at an important stage, and there was a 50-meter moment where I was concerned. But Sally took the stage, regenerated after that, and the last mile was very strong.
“We knew she had to be close to Vivian,” he continued. “And she was still in there at 200. Vivian was too strong, but it was tremendous – another huge step forward – to win a major championship.”
It was the first major global championship medal won by an OTC Elite athlete and it also completed a clean sweep for the Kenyans, who went 1, 2, 3, and 4 in the 10k.
“I’m very privileged to be working with Sally,” Rowland added. “She’s a wonderful human being, and it’s so wonderful to see someone with that kind of character get a just reward.”
In other Day 1 action, OTC’s Ashton Eaton took the lead early in the decathlon, winning the 100 meters in 10.46 seconds, and closed off a very long day of competition with his lead still intact, after winning the 400 meters in 46.99. Between Eaton’s two best events of the day, he had two sub-par finishes in the jumping events – going 7.46 meters (24 feet, 5 ¾ inches) in the long jump and 2.02 (6-7 ½) in the high jump. His shot put of 14.44 (47-4 ½) was a decathlon PR though, and helped him to total 4,446 points.
USA teammate Trey Hardee is only 53 points off Eaton with 4,393. Day 2 of the decathlon, which begins at 9 a.m. Daegu time and 5 p.m. Pacific Time, promises to be another nail-biter between the two Americans, with Hardee being a better thrower (in the discus and javelin) and pole vaulter, and Eaton being better in the 110 hurdles and the 1,500.
“This is the world championships, and you have to scrape tooth and nail to stay in it,” Eaton’s OTC Elite coach Harry Marra said. “Ashton’s been doing that, and he’ll continue to do that tomorrow. We’re gonna take one event at a time, run a good hurdle race, throw a good disc, and see if he can maximize his potential, and be in a position to win at the start of the 1,500.”
The decathlon resumes at 9:05 a.m. on Sunday in Daegu (which is 5:05 p.m. on Saturday in Oregon). It concludes with the 1,500 on Sunday night (4:15 a.m. Sunday, Pacific Time).
Eaton wasn’t the only OTC athlete up early in Daegu. Nick Symmonds highlighted the morning session, winning his opening-round heat of the 800. His time of 1:46.54 was the 12th fastest of the day. The semifinals take place on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. (2 a.m. PT).
“Nick executed well and was pretty comfortable,” Rowland said. “It’s going to be tricky in the semifinals. There are no natural front runners, so he’s going to have to take control of the race and create any opportunity to get into the final.”
Bridget Franek finished seventh in her heat of the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9:43.09, an improvement over her 12th-place showing in Berlin two years ago.
“Bridget got stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Rowland said of his first-year pro athlete. “They just went out too quick and she got lost in no-man’s land. She knows she could’ve done better and there’s an awful lot we can gain from it.”
Next up for the OTC Elite in Daegu is Eaton and Symmonds on Saturday night and Sunday morning, followed by Ben Bruce in the opening round of the 3,000-meter steeplechase on Monday morning in Korea (which is Sunday night at 6:40 p.m. PT). Live streaming coverage is available at UniversalSports.com.