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The Historic Series on Olympic Running (V): Women’s 3000m/5000m

So far, only a fifth place finish by Irena Mikitenko


In six weeks, the Olympic Games will be opening in Athens. Each week until then we will be introducing one of the eleven running disciplines, as well as naming the favourites for the Olympic gold medals.
This series, however, is on the history of Olympic running—about the past, rich in medals, of the German track and field athletes from both East (GDR) and West (FRG).
While in the past German track and field has been very successful at the Olympic Games, following the results of the world championships in 2003, one should not expect too much in Athens. It seems even more appropriate then to remember the great achievements of the Germans in the past and to honour their performances.
Today we will look at the women’s 5000m.
This series on the history of Olympic running will follow the weekly series on running which focuses on Athens 2004—out of respect for the great achievements and as an inspiration for imitation.
Similar to the 10,000m (which has been Olympic since 1988), the 5000 m has only a very short tradition — since 1988. Before that, from 1984-1002, the women ran the 3000m.

For the 3000m/5000m, two countries have each earned three medals, Romania and the Soviet Union/GUS, each with 2 gold and one silver medal. The only other country with a gold medal is China.
The German women can only boast one fifth place finish, with Irena Mikitenko in 2000 in Sydney. And for the 10,000m it only looks slightly better.

Overview of the distribution of medals of the most successful countries in the women’s 3000m/5000m:

Germany: 0 Gold / 0 Silver / 0 Bronze / 1 x 5th place
URS/GUS: 2 G / 1 S
ROM: 2 G / 1 S
CHN: 1 G
GBR: 0 G / 2 S
KEN: 0 G / 1 S
IRL: 0 G / 1 S
CAN: 0 G / 0 S / 2 B
ITA: 0 G / 0 S / 1 B
ETH: 0 G / 0 S/ 1 B

Los Angeles 1984 – 3000m – Brigitte Kraus gives up in the finals

There were three preliminary races for the 3000m. Brigitte Kraus from Cologne, who was second in the World Championships, won the third heat, but gave up in the finals after about 1,400m.
Finals (10.08):
1. Maricica Puica (ROM) 8:35.96 – 2. Wendy Sly (GBR) 8:39.47 – 3. Lynn Williams (CAN) 8:42.14

Seoul 1988 - 3000 m – Vera Michallek only in the preliminaries

Vera Michallek, the only German runner competing, came in 10th in the second preliminary heat in 8:51.34, thus not qualifying for the finals. She was, however, not completely healthy.

Finals (30.09.):
1. Tatjana Samolenko ( URS) 8: 26.53 OR – 2. Paula Ivan (ROM) 8:27.15 – 3. Yvonne Murray (GBR) 8:29.02

Barcelona 1992 – 3000m – No German runners competing

Finals (2.08):
1. Yelena Romanova (GUS) 8:46.04m- 2. Tatyana Dorovski 8:46.85 – 3. Angela Chalmera 8:47.22

Atlanta 1996 – 5000m – Claudia Lokar and Petra Wassiluk only in the preliminaries

Claudia Lokar came in 6th in the preliminaries in 15:28.35 and Petra Wassiluk in 7th in 15:37.73. Neither was good enough for the finals.

1. Junxia Wang (CHN) 14:59.88 - 2. Pauline Konga (KEN) 15:03.49 – 3. Roberta Brunet (ITA) 15:07.52

Sydney – 2000 – 5000 m – Irena Mikitenko in 5th place

The best placing so far for a German runner was fought out by Irina Mikitenko. On the final 1000m a quintet still stuck together — the final battle was opened by Mikitenko, but despite her great efforts was only about to reach 5th place, albeit in an excellent time.

1. Gabriele Szabo (ROM) 14:40.79 – 2. Sonia O’Sullivan 14:41.02 – 3. Gete Wami (ETH) 14:42.67 – 4. Ayelech Worku (ETH) 14:42. 67 – 5. Irina Mikitenko 14:43.59

The Olympic history of the women’s 5000m is still very short, and the standards in Germany over the longer distances is unfortunately still fairly average for the women — with the exception of the marathon distance.

It will be difficult enough to survive the preliminaries in Athens as the competition in the long distances is becoming greater and greater, especially from the African continent. The best bet for the future is to try not to fall too far behind the international competition.

Horst Milde

Interesting tips and supplementary information on the great Olympic history of the addressed topics may be sent to:

Women’s 800m (Historic Olympic Series I):
Men’s 1500m (Historic Olympic Series II:)
Men’s 800m (Historic Olympic Series):
Women’s 1500m (Historic Olympic Series):

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