This is Justin Lagat’s piece on the 10,000m at the Commonwealth Games, which occurred on Day 1 of Birmingham 2022.
The track action in Birmingham finally kicked off a week and two days after the World Athletics Championships. As expected, some of the big names from Oregon were missing in action, perhaps still taking their time to savor their great moments there.
With 200m to go in a thrilling 10,000m final, Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo pulled up beside Kenya’s Daniel Ebenyo and glanced back. The two were well ahead of the other Kenyan, Kibiwott Kandie. There was a little smile on Kiplimo’s face, perhaps knowing that Ebenyo wasn’t known to have a great finishing kick. He increased the pace a little bit and began to quickly create a gap on the home straight as he raised his hands in celebration with almost 50m to go. He crossed the finish line in a new Games record of 27:09.19. Ebenyo took the silver medal in a new PB of 27:11.26 ahead of Kandie, also in a PB of 27:20.34.
Only nine runners had turned up for the men’s 10,000m final, with Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei, the newly crowned world champion and Games’ defending champion, noticeably missing. Kenya was well represented, with a total of three runners in the field.
Sam Atkin of England made an early break just after the gun, and the chasing pack of 8 finally caught up with him as they approached the 3000m mark. It was a whole field together again as Andrew Butchart of Scotland momentarily took the pacing duties before Kenya’s Edward Zakayo took over.
At halfway, Ebenyo took to the front, and Kandie followed him closely. It was still a slow pace, and everyone was still there. It was Adriaan Wildchutt of South Africa who took to the front and began to cause one casualty as the remaining seven began to follow him in a single file.
With 3000m to go, the three Kenyans took to the front, and Kiplimo seemed to sense danger as he moved and wedged himself between them. Then, the pace slowed down again as the Kenyans seemed to want the Ugandan to do some leading as well, and he did. Soon, there were only three runners in the leading pack; Kiplimo, Kandie, and Ebenyo. With two laps to go, it was Ebenyo versus Kiplimo.
Earlier in the day, there had been some exciting track action in the unusually full stadium in the morning sessions.
Favour Ashe of Nigeria had opened the men’s 100m heats with a win in 10.12. The defending champion, Akani Simbine of South Africa, was in heat 2 and won his heat in a better time of 10.09. Then, Africa’s record holder and reigning champion came in with an even faster 10.07 to win the fifth of the 10 heats, but just before Sri Lanka’s Yupun Abeykoon came in heat 6 with the fastest overall time of 10.06.
In the absence of Athing Mu, who had won the gold medal at the World Championships in Oregon, Keely Hodgkinson, who had won silver, and Mary Moraa, who was the bronze medalist behind featured. Moraa won the first heat of the women’s 800m in 1:59.22, Jamaica’s Natoya Goule came in the second heat and won it in 1:58.39, while Hodgkinson won the last heat in 2:00.18.