The 1500m winner is no match for fellow Ethiopian’s stunning second half-speed at the World Championships
Almaz Ayana produced one of the biggest shocks of the championships as she blew away favourite and 1500m winner Genzebe Dibaba as Ethiopia hogged the podium positions in the women’s 5000m.
Dibaba produced the performance of 2015 with her 3:50.07 world 1500m record in July and was a big favourite to add to her metric mile gold from earlier in the week.
Ayana is world No.1 with 14:14.32 so was expected to challenge, but no one could have seriously predicted she would win by more than 17 seconds and leave her compatriot for dead with a burst of speed that showed the world record is up for revision under the right conditions.
After a slow first two kilometres in 6:06.92 – albeit the first being quicker than the equivalent in the men’s final on Saturday – Ayana hit the front and picked up the pace.
Only Dibaba could stay with her as she ran the next kilometre in 2:48. A 66-second lap up to 3600m then saw Ayana stretch away and she clocked a 2:43 fourth kilometre.
As the world indoor record-holder faded, Ayana powered away for a last kilometre of 2:47, which included 4:25.53 for the last 1600m. Her winning time was 14:26.83, showing the world record of 14:11.15 is within her capabilities.
The speed which boosted Dibaba to a 1:57 last 800m in the 1500m final deserted her as she lost out in a sprint finish to team-mate Senbera Teferi 14:44.07 to 14:44.14.
Led by Viola Kibiwott, Kenya took the next four places, while Netherlands’ Susan Kuijken was top European in eighth. Britain’s Steph Twell was 12th out of 15 finalists with 15:26.24.
In the javelin, Germany’s Katharina Molitor found her best form at the right time to take her first major title and deny the home crowd a Chinese victory with the last throw of the competition.
Molitor, who has been fifth, sixth and eighth in her only three previous global finals, produced a world lead of 67.69m, which was a PB by more than a metre, to overcome Lyu Huihui.
The hopes of the Chinese spectators were raised when Li Lingwei led from Lyu in the first round with 64.10m. This order remained until defending champion Christina Obergfoll threw 64.61m in round three. Later in that round Lyu went out to 64.72m and then with the next throw Molitor went two centimetres further.
Most of the leading contenders faltered in round four, but South Africa’s Sunette Viljoen approached her world-leading mark with 65.79m to take the lead. In the next round Lyu set an Asian record 66.13m to move into gold medal position.
However, drama came right at the end as Mollitor moved up third with a mark that was more than three metres further than her best before this year. Lyu and Viljeon thus took silver and bronze respectively.
Jamaica overcame favourites USA in the last women’s event of the championships, clocking a world lead of 3:19.13 to win the 4x400m relay in 0.31 seconds, as Britain took bronze with 3:23.62.
The 2001 champions had put themselves into an early lead through Christine Day on leg one as Britain’s twice world champion Christine Ohuruogu also passed on ahead of Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross, who missed out on an individual place for USA this time around.
Shericka Jackson then extended Jamaica’s lead to more than five metres as USA’s Natasha Hastings just came in ahead of Britain’s Anyika Onuora.
A unofficial 47.7-second split from individual winner Allyson Felix, which if confirmed would be the second-quickest in history, then put USA into the lead over Jamaica’s Stephenie Ann McPherson.
On the last leg American Francea McCorory, who had led the world rankings pre-Beijing stayed ahead of Jamaica’s Novlene Williams most of the time, but then died in the closing stages to allow the individual sixth-placer to pull through to victory.
Meanwhile, Britain’s Eilidh Child and Seren Bundy-Davies, on third and fourth legs, brought Britain home to a second consecutive World Championships third.