Great Britain's Mo Farah has started the 2013 athletics world championships with a victory in the 10,000 meters. Kenya's Edna Kiplagat defended her marathon world title from 2011 as well.
A hot, sunny day provided the backdrop for the first day of the athletics world championships in Moscow on Saturday, with the fans likely more appreciative than the athletes.
That's especially true for Edna Kiplagat and the rest of the participants of the women's marathon, which was run in the afternoon in temperatures pushing 27 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit).
Despite the heat, the Kenyan had enough left in the tank at the end of the race to pull away from Italy's Valeria Straneo in the last two kilometers of the 42-kilometer (26.2-mile) endurance event. Kiplagat becomes the first women to successfully defend her marathon world title, winning in 2 hours, 25 minutes and 44 seconds.
"It was hard today," the 33-year-old Kiplagat said. "Defending the title is not easy. Everyone was going for a medal. I felt pressure but motivated myself."
Farah on pace for double
As the shadows began to lengthen in the afternoon, Mo Farah - one of Great Britain's star performers from the London Olympics - took to the track in the 10,000 meters, one of the two events he won in London. He faced the defending world champion, Ethiopia's Ibrahim Jeilan, and a talented field of athletes gunning for the man known for his victory pose, the 'Mobot.'
If Farah had a target on his back, none of his opponents could see it in the early stages of the race. Farah was dead last in the first few laps - a tactic that is not unusual for the man who trains in the US state of Oregon. Slowly, Farah moved up the field to run with the lead pack, easily adjusting as the pace quickened in the later stages of the race.
In the final 100 meters, Farah held off Jeilan's final kick and won in a time of 27 minutes, 21.71 seconds. He will have the chance to repeat his London double and defend his 5,000-meter world title next weekend.
Broken nose leads to broken dreams
A strange accident effectively ended Ukrainian discus favorite Natalia Semenova's world championship. The Iron Lady, as she's known to her fans, was hit in the face when Polish athlete Zaneta Glanc was miming a discus throw in the warm-up area of the competition. Semenova suffered a concussion and a broken nose, but still took one throw in the qualifying round.
"The coach asked me to step down from the competition because of the accident," Semenova said, "but I had to throw to show my husband and parents watching the worlds on television in Donetsk that I'm alive, feeling good and I'm the Iron Lady as usual."
The throw was not enough to advance Semenova into the finals, and she left the stadium for an examination at the hospital shortly after.
German decathletes strong on first day
Saturday also saw the start of the men's decathlon competition, with Germanys Michael Schrader currently in third place after five events.
Americans Ashton Eaton and Gunnar Nixon occupy the top two spots, but Schrader's countrymen Rico Freimuth and Pascal Behrenbruch are eyeing the leaders in sixth and seventh. Two-time defending world champion Trey Hardee of the US did not clear any heights in the high-jump competition and is effectively out of the running.
On the women's side, both of Germany's entrants into the 3,000-meter steeplechase were among the 15 athletes to advance from Saturday's heats to the final. Antje Moeldner-Schmidt cruised to fourth in her heat, while Gesa Felicitas Krause squeaked through as the last of the 15 finalists after a disappointing sixth place in hers.
The Athletics World Championships continues in Moscow until August 18.
mz/mkg (AP, AFP, Reuters)