Day five had some excitingly fast races. Justin Lagat focuses on the Men’s 5000 meters in this feature on Day 5. Here’s Justin Lagat’s View from Kenya on Day 5 of the 2018 IAAF U20 World Championships.
The last 1,000m of the men’s 5000m that was run in 2:24.31 was amazing to watch. By then, there were six athletes in the leading pack with Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen having just joined the pack again after the pace had slowed down a bit around the 3000m. Selemon Barega was still leading with his compatriot, Telahun Bekele just behind him. Kenya’s Edward Zakayo on the outside lane was almost shoulder to shoulder with Barega. Then, with two laps to go, Kenya’s Stanley Waithaka who appeared to be the lightest athlete in the pack flew past the three athletes ahead of him. He took the lead and started to increase the pace. Barega, Ingebrigtsen and Bekele were quick to react after him as Zakayo and Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda seemed to have been caught off guard for a moment.
Zakayo and Kiplimo fought hard and got attached to the group again as they came to the bell, but Kiplimo could have spent all his energy closing the gap as he was the first to drop back again when the real battle for the medals began with about 300m to go. Barega was already shoulder to shoulder with Waithaka at the 200m mark as he tried to overtake, but Waithaka would not give in. Ingebrigtsen seemed to be buying his time just behind the two as Zakayo overtook Bekele behind them.
A blanket could be thrown over the four athletes at the beginning of the home straight with Waithaka slightly ahead, Ingebrigtsen being boxed into the inside lane by Barega and Zakayo just behind them and moving to the outside lane seeking for a space to attack. Zakayo then powered past the three athletes with 50m to go with an unmatched finishing kick as his compatriot held off Ingebrigtsen to secure a 1-2 finish for Kenya. Zakayo crossed the finish line in 13:20.16 followed by Waithaka in 13:20.57 with Ingebrigtsen coming third in a new area record of 13:20.78 ahead of Barega who finished in exactly one second behind the winner in 13:21.16.
Only some days remain before Barega meets Zakayo again in Asaba, Nigeria during the African senior athletics championships and it remains to be seen whether anything is going to change there.
Zakayo’s gold medal strengthened Kenya’s lead on the medal table as the country now leads with 5 gold medals with one day more to go to the close of the championships and with good chances for more medals in the mens 3000m steeplechase, women’s 1500m and men’s 800m events.