Cheruiyot passes Ayana to win 5,000 in Olympic record
ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 20, 2016 12:33 PM
Kenya's Vivian Jepkemoi Cheruiyot celebrates winning the gold medal and setting a new Olympic record in the women's 5000-meter final during the athletics competitions of the 2016 Summer Olympics at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, Aug. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
GERALD IMRAY, AP Sports Writer
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Hot favorite Almaz Ayana suddenly slumped in the final stages, allowing Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya to surge past and win the women's 5,000 meters in an Olympic record on Friday.
That gave Cheruiyot revenge for her second-place finish behind the Ethiopian in the 10,000 meters a week ago.
Cheruiyot timed her attack with less than two laps to go, suddenly closing a big gap Ayana had opened and speeding away for gold in 14 minutes 26.17 seconds, just over 14 seconds better than the previous Olympic mark. It was the 32-year-old Cheruiyot's first Olympic gold after a silver and a bronze at the London Games and that silver behind in the 10,000 in Rio.
Fellow Kenyan Hellen Obiri also beat world champion Ayana to take the silver in a personal record 14:29.77.
Ayana, who broke the world record in winning the 10,000 on the opening day of track and field at the Rio de Janeiro Games, finished third in 14:33.59. All three medalists crossed inside the former Olympic record of 14:40.79 set by Romania's Gabriela Szabo at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Not surprisingly, the five top finishers were all from Kenya or Ethiopia.
The 24-year-old Ayana, who was completely dominant in the 10,000, was expected to challenge Ethiopian compatriot Tirunesh Dibaba's world record of 14:11.15 in the 5,000 final. Halfway through the race she had taken control after an early break by Japan's Miyuki Uehara and opened a big gap on the chasing pack.
But, on a warm night in Rio, she suddenly tired and Cheruiyot breezed past, sinking Ayana's bid for a 5,000-10,000 double at her first Olympics.
Nikki Hamblin, the runner whose act of sportsmanship alongside American Abbey D'Agostino in the 5,000 meters heats warmed hearts at the Olympics, finished last in the final in 16:14.24 — still a personal best for the New Zealand athlete.
"I went out there and I tried to compete, I tried as hard as I could," Hamblin said. "I hung on for a while and then the move came and I didn't have the legs."
D'Agostino didn't run in the final because of a knee injury.
The two were involved in one of the feel-good moments of the games when they collided in their heat and both tumbled. D'Agostino first helped Hamblin to her feet and encouraged her to finish the race. The American then realized she had sustained a bad knee injury. Hamblin returned the favor by helping her, and D'Agostino finished the race while grimacing in pain with torn knee ligaments.
Both runners were given a place in Friday's final because of the collision.