European 10,000m champion Lonah Chemtai Salpeter won her first global medal with a battling bronze in the marathon at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon on Monday (18) morning.
Salpeter has been no stranger to misfortune in major championships marathons - she collapsed in near-impossible conditions in Doha 2019 and suddenly dropped out of medal contention at the 40km mark at the Tokyo Olympics last summer - but the Israeli rallied in the late stages and was rewarded with bronze in 2:20:18.
As the pace ebbed and flowed drastically at the front, the 33-year-old kept a consistent pace and moved through the field in the last 12 kilometres, picking off the likes of Boston Marathon runner-up Ababel Yeshaneh and Kenya’s Amsterdam Marathon winner Angela Tanui who were to fade out of contention in the chase for the title.
Behind eventual winner Gotytom Gebreslase from Ethiopia who won gold in a championship record of 2:18:11 and Kenya’s Judith Korir who took silver in 2:18:20, Salpeter shook off Eritrea’s Nazret Weldu in the last three kilometres for a jubilant bronze medal, a performance full of experience and maturity.
"I remained patient after the ladies pushed early in the race, no matter how the race would unfold. I am really happy for today. My preparation was not that good. Today, it was really a fantastic achievement,” said Salpeter.
On her tactics, she said: “The marathon starts at 30km. This is when we start to see the ladies closing. I started to move up. My partner (Weldu) and I worked well together and then at 40km, I said I needed to push and it would pay off in the end. I need to stay focused, injury-free and return to next year's World Championships."
Salpeter becomes only the third athlete representing Israel to win a medal at the World Athletics Championships after pole vaulter Aleksandr Averbukh (1999, 2001) and triple jumper Hanna Minenko (2015).
She became the first European to win a medal at the World Athletics Championships since Italy’s Valeria Straneo in Moscow 2013 and her time was also faster than Paula Radcliffe’s previous championship record of 2:20:57 which dates back to 2005.
A huge javelin puts Vetter in the heptathlon lead
The stage is set for a thrilling conclusion to the heptathlon with six events completed.
Two-time Olympic champion Nafissatou Thiam has looked on course to regain her title but she trails an inspired Anouk Vetter from the Netherlands by 19 points heading into the 800 metres.
Vetter pulled out a lifetime best of 6.53m with her third attempt in the long jump and the Dutchwoman sent the javelin sailing out to 58.29m - just shy of her championship best - to eclipse Thiam at the top of the standings with 6045 points.
Contesting her first combined events competition of any sort since retaining her Olympic campaign in Tokyo, Thiam has by no means underperformed with marks of 6.59m and 53.01m respectively which has taken her score to 6026 points.
Neither Vetter nor Thiam are especially renowned for their 800m prowess but Thiam has a slight advantage on paper based on lifetime best performances - 2:15.24 to 2:17.71.