This is Justin Lagat’s piece on day 2 evening session. Justin Lagat’s feature gets into the tactics used and speaks also about the 5000 meter heats for the women.
Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega pulled a surprise finishing kick in the men’s 10,00m final to emerge victorious and win the first track and field gold medal in Tokyo. The silver and bronze medals went to Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo respectively.
The three Ugandan runners seemed to have planned this race very well and everything was seemingly going according to their plan until Barega suddenly pulled the surprise kick.
At the start of the race, Uganda’s Stephen Kissa had immediately gone to the front while Cheptegei and Kiplimo ran from behind everyone else and slowly moved towards the front as the race progressed. Kissa was playing the rapid as he ran alone almost 50m ahead of everyone.
It was Barega who began the initiative to close down the gap on Kissa as he went together with Kenya’s Rhonex Kipruto.
The group came together again with 14 laps to go, with Kissa still slightly ahead.
Kipruto took to the front with 9 laps to go and the rest of the main protagonists began to position themselves just behind him. Kissa dropped out of the race, probably according to plan.
It became tense with about four laps to go. The race appeared to have turned into a fresh 1500m final with Cheptegei and Rodgers Kwemoi exchanging the lead with a large group of runners still in contention. Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed momentarily took to the front before Barega made a strong move in the last lap and rapidly began to open a gap. The two Ugandans, Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo seemed to have been caught off-guard as they quickly followed in hot pursuit. But it was all in vain. Barega won the gold medal in 27:43.22 ahead of Cheptegei in 27:43.63 and Kiplimo in 27:43.88.
Earlier on in the evening, there were two competitive and exciting heats of the women’s 5000m.
Sifan Hassan appeared very comfortable in the first heat as she ran the first laps behind everyone else as she slowly moved up towards the front. Understandingly, she had to run conservatively given that this was just but the first of the many races she is yet to run here in Tokyo. At the backstretch, after the bell, she quickly moved to the front to win it ahead of Agnes Tirop, Senbere Teferi, Ejgayehu Taye, and Lilian Rengeruk, in that order.
The second heat showed an indication that the final of this event could be anybody’s race as five women could conveniently be covered in one blanket as they crossed the finish line to get the first five automatic qualification positions. Most of the last stages were controlled by Hellen Obiri before Gudaf Tsegay took to the front in the last lap to edge her on the home stretch. Nadia Battocletti came strongly to finish third ahead of Francine Niyonsaba who later got disqualified. Elise Cranny and Karoline Grovdal secured fourth and fifth positions.