BY RED SHANNON AUGUST 10, 2013
It was hot and humid in Moscow on the first day of competition at the World Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Much of the activity was devoted to paring down the fields during various qualifying rounds. But there were two events decided—the women’s marathon and the men’s 10,000 meter run.
Also, the first of two days of the decathlon competition was entered into the books.
Under sweltering conditions, only 46 of 70 starters completed the women’s marathon.
Defending champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya passed Italy’s Valeria Straneo in the very late stages in two hours, 25 minutes and 44 seconds to eke out the victory in the grueling 26.2 mile race. Straneo crossed 14 seconds later for silver.
Japan’s Kayoko Fukushi finished third in 2:25:58. Deena Kastor was U.S.A.’s top finisher, in ninth place in 2:36:12.
In the men’s 10,000 final, Great Britain’s double Olympic champion, Mo Farah, defied an uninspired East African attempt to deplete his reserves through brisk pace-setting early.
Farah maintained his cool and kicked into a 54-second final lap to frustrate the so-called distance kings from Kenya and Ethiopia on his way to victory in 27 minutes, 21.72 seconds.
The win brought sweet revenge from a close loss to Ibrahim Jeilan in the 2011 Daegu World Championships and solidified his stranglehold as the current world’s best.
The Ethiopian defending champion, Jeilan, couldn’t match Farah’s huge strides down the stretch and took silver in 27:22.23, followed closely by Kenyan Paul Tanui in 27:22.61. Farah’s training partner, Galen Rupp, took fourth in 27:24.39.
Both Farah and Rupp will compete later in the week in the 5,000.
The U.S.A. decathlon team lost two members during competition on the first day.
Jeremy Taiwo withdrew because of an injury after four events, and defending world champion Trey Hardee withdrew after failing to clear a height in the high jump.
However, the remaining two American competitors are leading after five disciplines.
Olympic champion Ashton Eaton overcame a poor result in the high jump to finish the first day with a World Championships decathlon record in the 400-meter race (46.02 seconds) to finish Day 1 with 4,502 points.
Only nine points back with 4,493, the surprising Gunnar Nixon had the best first day of his life, highlighted by a nice 25’7″ long jump. Michael Schrader of Germany was in third with 4,421 points.
Decathlon competition will conclude tomorrow with the 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500-meter run.
As previously advertised, I will be keeping a running tally of men’s, women’s and team scores using an 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system for the first eight places in all event finals, much like we see in NCAA and high school championship meets.
I do this for several reasons.
It adds an extra measure of drama to the competition and highlights the contribution of athletes who don’t quite advance to the podium.
For example, out of eight place finishes, 36 total points are available.
This makes it possible for teammates who finish fourth and fifth in an event to score more points (9) than the champion (8).
This is where team depth comes into play. At least some value is then placed on teams that have multiple second-tier athletes.
Although in this case, the scoring is done just for fun, it actually is a better way to determine the true winner than by using a simple medals total.
That being said, because champions were determined in only two events this first day, it’s almost pointless to put up a chart today.
Even so, we can say that Kenya leads in the overall score with 14 points, followed by Great Britain with eight. Ethiopia and Italy have seven, followed by Japan with six.
On Sunday, the summer sun will have a rival, as competition begins to really heat up in Luzhniki Stadium.
Six events will be decided by day’s end, with the much-anticipated men’s 100 final bringing down the curtain in the evening session.
Finals action in the decathlon, the men’s 20 kilometer race/walk, women’s long jump, women’s discus and women’s 10,000 get the championships started in earnest. And of course, there will be plenty of quarterfinal and semifinal qualifying mixed in.