DAEGU, South Korea (AP) — Kenya got off to a perfect start at the world championships on Saturday, sweeping the podium in both the women's marathon and 10,000 meters.
Vivian Cheruiyot led a Kenyan 1-2-3 in the women's 10,000 on Saturday to follow up a sweep in the women's marathon earlier in the day.
"It's all great because our stock has gone way up," Cheruiyot said. "We were inspired by the marathon girls and wanted to do the same thing. Kenyans are always strong and we tried to push in the second half of the race and things went just as we planned."
Cheruiyot finished the 25-lap race in 30 minutes, 48.98 seconds, holding an edge of 1.06 seconds over teammate Sally Kipyego. Defending champion Linet Masai took the bronze with a time of 30:53.59.
Cheruiyot will be seeking a long-distance double in the 5,000, where she is the defending champion.
Kipyego, making her debut for Kenya after a long U.S. collegiate career, challenged over the closing stages, but Cheruiyot clocked a 61-second final lap to secure the gold medal.
"It's absolutely fantastic," Kipyego said. "It's a wonderful day for Kenya, for the entire country. I know a lot people back home were watching. We tried to get the most out of the 10,000 meters we and it worked perfectly. It is a great day for Kenya."
As impressive a day as it was for Kenya, it was a disappointing start to the distance events for Ethiopia, Kenya's main rival. Athens Olympic 5,000 champion Meseret Defar failed to finish the 10,000 because of stomach pain.
"I was feeling stomach pain and could not keep my pace," Defar said. "It was a bad day for me but I'll be back in the 5,000."
Two years ago at the worlds in Berlin, Masai ended Ethiopia's 10-year domination of the women's 10,000 at the event.
"I was disappointed because I was not able to defend my title," Masai said. "But I'm pleased Kenya won all the medals. I think I was not able to push in the end because I stayed in the front most of the race."
Kenya's perfect day started when Edna Kiplagat led a sweep of the marathon despite a fall at the second-to-last water station, where she crossed in front of teammate Sharon Cherop, tripped and fell to the ground.
"I was a little shocked," Kiplagat said of the fall. "What was in my mind was I wasn't sure if I was going to pick up the pace again, but later on I realized I could and was very happy."
The New York Marathon champion won the race in 2:28:43 to claim the first gold medal of the competition and become only the second Kenyan woman after Catherine Ndereba to win the world marathon title.
"Six medals already and we are looking to harvesting more," Kenya team leader Peter Masanga said. "We want to dominate the field. This is Kenya's best team ever."
The only other time Kenya swept the podium at the world championships was in 1997 and 2007 in the men's steeplechase.
- Vivian Cheruiyot