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by Brett Larner
2009 men's 10000 m national champion Yuki Iwai ran in the 10000 m on the third day of the 2009 World Championships in Berlin. Having experienced problems with his right Achilles tendon since winning the national title in June, Iwai was visibly wincing during his warmup and while stretching on the starting line and he fared accordingly in the race. In last place in the field of 30 after only a lap, Iwai soon lost contact with the group and was overtaken by the leaders twice in the course of the race which saw winner Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia set a new World Championships record of 26:46.31, all three medalists break 27 minutes, and the top 14 set season or lifetime bests.
In light of Rikuren's questionable decision to omit 27:38 runner Yuki Sato from the team Iwai was the sole Japanese runner, and unlike the five athletes who dropped out of the race he undoubtedly felt pressure to finish no matter what. Gutting out his last-place 29:24.12 was an impressive testament to his strength, but the pain he was obviously experiencing suggested he may have done more serious injury. What comes next for this talented runner remains to be seen.
With the withdrawal of two-time Olympic medalist Koji Murofushi from the men's hammer throw the only other Japanese athletes active on Day Three were women's 400 m hurdlers Satomi Kubokura and Sayaka Aoki. Kubokura, the 2009 national champion, missed making the second round by only 0.18 seconds. Aoki, a university star in her first season as a professional, was among the leaders when she caught her trailing leg on the fourth hurdle and fell face first. She got up and continued to run but finished over six seconds back from the next runner ahead of her.
2009 World Championships - Top Results
Men's 10000 m
1. Kenenisa Bekele (Ethiopia) - 26:46.31 - CR
2. Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) - 26:50.12 - SB
3. Moses Masai (Kenya) - 26:57.39 - SB
4. Imane Merga (Ethiopia) - 27:15.94 - PB
5. Bernard Kipyego (Kenya) - 27:18.47 - SB
6. Dathan Ritzenhein (U.S.A.) - 27:22.28 - PB
7. Micah Kogo (Kenya) - 27:26.33 - SB
8. Galen Rupp (U.S.A.) - 27:37.99 - SB
9. Kidane Tadasse (Eritrea) - 27:41.50 - PB
10. Gebre-egziabher Gebremariam (Ethiopia) - 27:44.04 - SB
25. Yuki Iwai (Japan) - 29:24.12
(c) 2009 Brett Larner
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