Olympic vault champ Hooker disappoints
The Associated Press
Posted: Aug 26, 2011
Edna Kiplagat of Kenya crosses the line before the rest in the women’s marathon, the first medal event at the world championships in Daegu. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Edna Kiplagat crashed chest-first late in the women’s marathon Saturday only to recover and lead Kenya to an unprecedented sweep Saturday on the opening day of the world championships.
Kiplagat won in a slow 2 hours, 28 minutes, 43 seconds to claim the first gold medal of the competition. Priscah Jeptoo was second and Sharon Cherop third.
Kenya’s perfect start contrasted with the fortunes of Olympic 400 champion Christine Ohuruogu and Australian pole vaulter Steve Hooker.
The British runner was disqualified for a false start in her opening heat and the defending pole vault champion from Australia failed to clear the qualifying height.
“Just mentally, it wasn’t there,” Hooker said. “I had no confidence in what I was doing out there. I wasn’t feeling it.”
Kiplagat certainly felt the stinging pain when she tangled up with Cherop at one of the last water stations and suddenly was on all fours.
“I was a little shocked,” Kiplagat said. “What was in my mind was I wasn’t sure if I was going to pick up the pace again.”
Also shocked, Cherop helped pick up her veteran teammate and off they went again as a trio heading through the 80-degree morning heat and humidity of inland South Korea.
Hard-pressed to equal their third-place finish in the medals table from two years ago, they gave Kenya the perfect start to the competition with Kiplagat, a 31-year-old mother of two, leading Jeptoo and Cherop to the line. The three embraced and gingerly walked away, arms warmly interlocking to celebrate the victory.
No nation had ever had such a triple since the championships started 28 years ago.
“I hope this result will give motivation to our Kenyan team members,” Jeptoo said.
David Rudisha added to Kenya’s cheer, coasting in qualifying for an 800 metres.
And Kenya will be counting on more medals in the women’s 10,000 later Saturday, the only two finals on the opening day.
Vivian Cheruiyot, who won the 5,000 two years ago in Berlin, is aiming for a long-distance double this time. The Kenyan only started running competitively in the 10,000 this year, but is already one of the favourites along with defending champion Linet Masai and Meseret Defar of Ethiopia.
Whatever happens during that race, it is unlikely it will match the roar at the 53,000-capacity Daegu Stadium for the first appearance of Usain Bolt. The Jamaican will start his quest for a third sprint triple in as many major championships.
After main rival Asafa Powell withdrew injured, it seems nothing can stop him from winning the marquee event of the championships. He will run the 200 and 400 relay later.
American decathlon favourites Trey Hardee and Ashton Eaton led the standings after three of 10 events, with Eaton losing the top spot to the defending champion after finishing 17th in the shot put.