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Agate Caune of Latvia’s heroic performance earns spot in World Championship final

Caune broke away from the field on the opening lap and held on to qualify for the 5,000m final in a personal best time

Agate Caune

The evening session of Day 5 at the 2023 World Athletics Championships delivered a slew of remarkable races, but it was the electrifying performance of 19-year-old Latvian phenom Agate Caune that stole the spotlight. Competing in the women’s 5,000m heats, Caune showcased her strength and seized a spot in the final through a daring breakaway from the pack right from the first lap.

Undeterred by the presence of world champions Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia and Beatrice Chebet of Kenya in her heat, Caune put her confidence in her training on display. She charged ahead and established a near 40-second lead at various points of the race.

“Right from the start, I knew that if the pace was slow, I wouldn’t make it to the final,” remarked Caune after the race. “To get results, you need to take risks. Today, I embraced that challenge, set a new personal best, and now I’m headed for the final.”

As the final lap unfolded, Caune was eventually overtaken by Chebet, Tsegay, and Kenya’s Margaret Kipkemboi, but she clung to her position, finishing fourth in an impressive new personal record of 15:00.48.

“The last 100m were a true test, but I kept telling myself to push forward,” says Caune. Her audacious move caught many of her fellow competitors off-guard, including Chebet and U.S. 5,000m record holder Alicia Monson.

“Yes, I was surprised by her move and the lead she gained,” admitted Chebet, the reigning world cross-country champion.

“It was a brilliant move by Caune that paid off,” noted Monson. “Yet, many of us adopt the mindset of simply surviving and advancing.”

Agate Caune
Latvia’s Agate Caune out on her own at the front of Heat 1 of the women’s 5,000m in Budapest. Photo: James Rhodes (@jrhodesathletics)

Caune is a rising star in European athletics. Earlier this month, she won double gold at the U20 European Championships in Israel for Latvia in the 3,000m and 5,000m. Come Saturday evening, she will step onto the world stage for her first global final in her championship debut.

Addressing the media, Caune humbly described reaching the final as an unexpected bonus for her. Her primary goal for the season is to excel in the 5K event at the inaugural World Road Running Championships in Riga, located about 100 kilometres from her hometown of Valmiera, Latvia, this October.

The 2023 World Athletics Championships are taking place from August 19-27 at the National Stadium in Budapest, Hungary. All the action will be brought to you by Canadian Running and Asics Canada. Follow us on Twitter on Instagram for all things Team Canada and up-to-date exclusive news and content.

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