Here is Alex Mill’s first piece for RunBlogRun! Alex will be writing a piece each day on the Commonwealth Games for us! This piece is on the 5,000 meters!
On an early Glasgow evening that was supposed to be lit up by British hero Mo Farah, it was an illustrious Kenyan donning an eye-catching blond afro that raised the roof of Hampden Park in the stars absence, with an electric 54 second last lap that left spectators roaring with awe and appreciation, and his rivals trudging through the puddles of his supremacy.
For Caleb Ndiku it was a victory that came at best at a canter, as he played the waiting game, sitting behind a 14 strong leading pack for 4 kilometres before unleashing a kick he knew no one, not even, compatriot Isiah Koech would be able to match.
Willed on by the crowd that would surely have been cheering against him had Farah been running, Ndiku showed no signs of fear as first the Rwandans and then Ugandans tried to defy their placing within African distance running to try an emulate Moses Kipsiro’s dream double of 2010.
Kipsiro was himself below par as he never really threatened the front of the field despite having come into the race with at least an ounce of hope that he might just retain his title and produce more than his eventual 8th place finish, yet it’s fair to say preparations haven’t been ideal for the former champ.
Either way it’s unlikely that even if he had been running at the same level as he did 4 years ago that the Ugandan would have been able to match the Kenyan, who’s time of 13.12, is pretty quick, especially in a championship race.
Splits of below 65 seconds for the last 4 laps show just why Ndiku became world indoor champion over 3000m earlier this year and go some way to explaining why Koech’s lead never looked safe.
Although plaudits should definitely go to the silver medal winner who on many occasions during the race managed to overthrow each of the other contenders until he just couldn’t match the last.
Yes, things might have been different had Jake Robertson not slipped when we was placed so well alongside his brother, yet the chances of an actual podium double from the New Zealander seems somewhat unlikely. Even if they do know all the Kenyan tactics that we might sometimes disregard as accidental; having spent so much time in country training.
Sadly for Zane Robertson, who by the way, ran an awesome race, especially to stick with the breakaway pair of Ndiku and Koech, it seems like that he will have to battle with new CW marathon champion if he is to become the pride of Oceania athletics. Nevertheless I could be said that Robertson’s come of age performances, was one we’d been expecting well before he stepped onto the Glasgow track. This is especially apparent, after Flotrack’s intensive documentary of the pairs training program out in Africa.
From a personal perspective it was also great to see such huge performances from the British runners involved in the race, especially, Andy Vernon, who’s just getting back to fighting fitness after picking up double injury’s in the last 6 weeks after arguably his best ever season’s opening where he took Euro cross bronze and reached the world indoor final.
With the other two Brits to whom so much of their success is owed to their American athletics tuition, England’s Tom Farrell and Scotland’s Luke Caldwell also performing brilliantly to remain with the front pack for 4 fifths of the race, it shows good signs ahead of next month’s European championships and beyond, especially should Mr Farah not for whatever reason be available.
While the stage was huge for both, a special mention should be given to the younger athlete Caldwell, who performing against far superior athletes than he has ever faced and in front of his biggest ever crowd, performed amicably to finish 13th as he only slipped off in the last 2 laps despite having looked slightly uncomfortable throughout the run. (Although maybe that’s just his running style)
Back to the brilliance of Ndiku, it’s safe to say that his bigger tests (i.e the Ethiopians and Farah) will have to be overrun before he can be considered as one of the best, yet in terms of his latest obstacle, he has vaulted over rather than just hurdled the challenge.