Kenyan Chebet smashes women's 10 000m world record

athletics25 May 2024 19:50| © AFP
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Beatrice Chebet © Getty Images

Kenya's Beatrice Chebet broke the women's 10 000m world record with a victory in 28min 54.14sec at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League athletics meeting in Eugene, Oregon, on Saturday.

The 24-year-old, a two-time world championships medallist at 5 000m and a cross-country world champion, broke the record of 29:01.03 set by Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey in Hengelo on 8 June, 2021.

Chebet's victory in a race designated as Kenya's Olympic qualifier immediately established her as a favourite for gold at the Paris Olympics in August.

In mild, overcast conditions perfect for the event, Chebet took advantage of enthusiastic crowd support, the work of three pacemakers through the first half of the race and the Hayward Field track's "wavelight" pace-setting technology to become the first woman to break 29 minutes in the 10 000m.

The race, which opened Saturday's action but was not part of the Diamond League programme, was billed as a world record attempt by Ethiopia's Gudaf Tsegay – who shattered the 5 000m world record at Hayward Field in the Diamond League finals last September.

Chebet, who had never raced a 10 000m outside of Kenya before, said she hadn't come into her first elite race at the distance with a world record in mind.

"For us, we came for selection for Olympics for 10 000," she said.

But she knew that Tsegay was targeting the world record and told herself "let me go with her and see how my body responds."

Chebet, who won world 5 000m silver in Eugene in 2022 and 5 000m world bronze in Budapest last year, sat on Tsegay's shoulder for most of the race and timed her final move perfectly on the 22nd of 25 laps.

She pulled way with ease on a majestic final lap. Tsegay finished second in 20:05.92 – the third-fastest time ever.

"When I go for the last two laps, I just get motivated, I say, 'Let me push the last 400,'" said Chebet, whose two cross-country world titles came at a similar distance.

Chebet said she'll now target a 5 000m-10 000m double at the Paris Olympics.

"For me, I am happy, to be the first time on the Olympic team," she said. "With good health, I know I am going to medal at the Olympics."

Kenya's Lilian Rengeruk finished third in 29:26.89, also punching her ticket to Paris.