The 1,500 mete race for women was good for Kenya, Ethiopia and the United States. Here is how Justin Lagat saw the race from his viewing in Kenya. What an exciting race, and the finish left us breathless, form Rio to Eldoret!
Faith Kipyegon creates another great moment for Kenyans on the fifth day of athletics in Rio
Kenyans erupted, yet again, in celebrations as Faith Kipyegon delivered another gold medal on the fifth day of athletics in Rio in a race that many expected to be won by Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba, the 2015 IAAF female athlete of the year and Beijing world champion who just recently set a number of indoor and outdoor world records ranging from the 1500m to the 5000m events. But, in the end it, was Kipyegon who took the gold medal.
The race started out a bit faster, but only for few meters as athletes perhaps wanted to take their vantage positions. The general pace for the first one and half laps was slow as the US athletes commanded the pace at the front. It seems Genzebe Dibaba’s plan was to start kicking away from the field with about 800m to go, and she just tried to do that, but still there was a pack going with her when the pace suddenly shot up at this point. At the bell, though, the contention for gold was clearly between her and Kipyegon. With 200m to go, Kipyegon overtook Dibaba and continued to open a gap as the latter appeared to start struggling. Kipyegon won the race in 4:08.95. Dibaba came second in 4:10.27 as Jennifer Simpson, who had been rapidly closing the gap on Dibaba in the last 100m, followed to take the bronze medal in 4:10.53.
Earlier on, the three Kenyans had easily sailed through to the finals in the women 5000m which promises to be a tough battle with the Ethiopians in the finals. Despite running a world record a few days ago, Almaz Ayana still appeared fresh as she ran alone at the front to win the second heat of the race that had Vivian Cheruiyot in it. The other two Kenyans; Hellen Obiri and Mercy Cherono finished first and third in the first heat that had Yasemin Can in it.
One of the races that Kenyans anticipate a 1-2-3 finish in the finals is the men’s 1500m. Kenyans ran in different styles to get through to the semi-finals: Asbel Kiprop ran from behind until they approached the bell when he suddenly moved to the front to control the pace before winning the first heat. Elijah Manangoi moved to the front soon after the gun and took control of the race making sure no one overtook him on the inside lane till about the last one meter to finish second in heat 2. Ronald Kwemoi ran in the middle of the pack that forced him to run mostly on the outside lanes to avoid getting boxed to finish second in the third heat.
The surprise of the day – not just for Kenyans, but for the rest of the world – happened in the men’s 400m hurdles when two of the Kenyans; Boniface Mucheru and Haron Koech made it to the finals. One can only wonder how it would have been if Nicholas Bett, who hit the last hurdle in the first rounds, had not stumbled.