Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba completed the first leg of her proposed 10,000 and 5,000 metres double here last night, winning at the longer distance in an Olympic record of 29min 54.66sec after accelerating past Turkey's Elvan Abeylegesse at the bell.
But soon after the scattered field had finished in the wake of the two breakaway runners, UK Athletics found itself facing criticism from the second-placed of the two Britons, Kate Reed, who followed 12th-placed Jo Pavey home in 23rd position in a time of 32.26.69.
The 25-year-old from Somerset, who ran 31.31.87 on her 10,000m debut in May, blamed her relatively disappointing performance on having to run a time-trial on a track the previous night on the orders of team officials.
Kelly Sotherton concluded the first day of her heptathlon in a medal position, but you would hardly have thought so from her tearful reaction after the concluding 200 metres.
"I just feel really, really upset right now," she said, after initially making her exit without speaking to the press. "It's not up to par with what I know I can do."
Sotherton produced personal bests of 13.18sec in the 100m hurdles and 23.39sec in the 200m as well as a season's best of 1.83m in the high jump.
But any ambitions she may have harboured of winning gold in the absence of the Olympic champion, Carolina Kluft, appeared to have been annulled by an excellent performance from Hyleas Fountain, of the United States, who went into the final three events with 4,060 points, a lead of 64 over Natalya Dobrynska of the Ukraine and 122 over the Briton.
Sotherton's chances of returning to the Olympic rostrum four years after she took the bronze medal in Athens look like being decided by her performance in her worst event, the javelin.
If she can do no better than her season's best of 34.31m her chances will surely vanish. If she can produce the distance of 40 metres she is said to have produced in training recently, she may be in business.
The 31-year-old Briton, whose Beijing preparations were disrupted by a kidney infection that forced her to miss the best part of a month's training, has always been a fierce self-critic.
But only her shot putt of 13.87, down on the personal best of 14.66m she set this season, fell into the disappointing category.
"I suppose it's my first heptathlon this year and I'm not as competitive as I should be," Sotherton added.
"I'm in the mix but I expected to win that 200 in under 23 seconds. Maybe I can do something tomorrow."
Marilyn Okoro may also be able to do something in the 800m after reaching today's semi-finals as the second-fastest qualifier behind the former champion Maria Mutola in 1min 59.01sec.Reuse content