photo by Mika Tokairin
split chart courtesy of Dr. Helmut Winter
She received little more than passing mention, if that, in most English-language coverage of Sunday's Moscow World Championships women's 10000 m, but she deserves a lot of credit for making the race regardless of its predicable outcome. Prefigured precisely by her meet record 31:06.67 win at June's National Championships, where she took the lead just past 3000 m and ran alone right on national record pace to lap the entire field, and by the London Olympics where she led a significant portion of the race to make the top ten in a PB of 30:59.19, a performance that you would think should have earned her enough respect to be called by her name rather than just "Japanese girl" by at least one prominent American outlet covering Moscow, Niiya took over from struggling American rabbit Shalane Flanagan after 3000 m and relentlessly pushed on at PB pace until she had ground the field down to just four competitors, two Ethiopian and two Kenyan.
Needless to say, all four outkicked her over the last lap, but it is worth a second look at Niiya's lap-by-lap splits to see just how great she ran. Dr. Helmut Winter of German Road Races was kind enough to send the following split chart. Click the chart to enlarge it.
In the meantime, give it up for what may end up as the purest guts performance of the Moscow World Championships. Have fun in the pet shops, Hitomi.
text (c) 2013 Brett Larner / photos (c) 2013 Mika Tokairin / split chart (c) 2013 Dr. Helmut Winter
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