Kimeli only Kenyan in 5,0000m final after Simiu, Chebole fail to advance

Wednesday, August 4th, 2021 00:00 |
Kenya’s Nicholas Kipkorir Kimeli (C) gestures as he crosses the finish line to win the men’s 5000m heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 3, 2021. Photo/AFP

Nicholas Kimeli will be the only Kenyan representative in the men’s 5,000m final after topping his heat yesterday afternoon.

Kimeli won heat one in a time of 13:38.87 run at the Olympic Stadium.

Teammate Daniel Simiu faded to finish 10th after a costly tumble in the eighth lap when he was tripped by Frenchman Hugo Hay.

Canadian Mohammed Ahmed was second with William Kincaid of USA, Oscar Chelimo of Uganda and Birhanu Balew of Bahrain also among the top five finishers with guaranteed qualifying slots.

Kimeli ran a steady race, only briefly letting Ahmed take the lead before the Canadian fell back to third behind the Kenyan champion and Simiu.

The 22-year-old Kimeli faced a strong challenge from Ahmed and Kincaid at the final bend and was almost overtaken but he injected a fresh acceleration of pace to regain his lead.

Injury woes

Kenya’s other representative in the race Samuel Chebole registered a DNS (did not start), with team Kenya officials saying he was nursing an injury.

The heat was won by Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei who last week won silver in the 10,000m race.

Meanwhile, teenager Athing Mu became the first American woman to win the Olympic 800m crown in more than half-a-century Tuesday, producing a superb display of front-running to win the gold.

The 19-year-old prodigy from New Jersey, who only turned professional in June after a successful college career, led from start to finish to win in a new US national record of 1min 55.21sec.

Britain’s Keely Hodgkinson -- another 19-year-old -- took silver in 1:55.88 while Raevyn Rogers of the United States took bronze in 1:56.81.

Mu, whose parents moved to the United States after fleeing civil war in Sudan, is the first American woman to win the Olympic 800m title since Madeline Manning at the 1968 Mexico City Games.

“It’s awesome,” said Mu. “I feel like I’ve just accomplished one of my goals.

“I just wanted to be a medallist.”

Mu said that her ambition grew bigger than that as it got closer to the final.

“I wasn’t really putting gold on that, but as it got closer to the final today, I was like, ‘Yeah, we want gold’,” she said.

“It’s an accomplishment that I wanted off my list.”

It was a remarkable display from Mu, showing a confidence and maturity that belied her relative inexperience in top-level track and field.

Drawn in lane three, Mu glided into the lead before the 200m mark and never looked back, clocking a brisk 57.82 first lap.

She then cranked up the pace in the closing 200 metres, pulling away from the field to cross the line with a comfortable margin of victory from the fast-finishing Hodgkinson.

This year’s Olympic 800m took place in the absence of 2012 and 2016 gold medallist Caster Semenya of South Africa.

Semenya has been barred from competing over 800m by World Athletics’ testosterone-reducing regulations.

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