Silver Medal for Almaz Ayana in Women’s 5000m
(EBC; August 14, 2017) - The early stages of the 5000m final was played out in an almost identical manner to the 10,000m with Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana making a huge surge after a ponderous opening to proceedings. However, while the Kenyan challenge fettered away in the 10,000m, Hellen Obiri produced an irresistible burst of speed on the last lap of the 5000m to deny the reigning champion a much vaunted long distance double.
Almaz ground the field into submission in the 10,000m on the second day of the championships and she made her intent clear in the 5000m final with a fourth lap of 65.57, followed by 66.21 for the fifth lap. These lap times represented world record pace for the distance but Obiri was more than content - and confident enough - to sit in her slipstream while the field splintered behind the leaders.
After a season blighted by a leg injury and illness, Almaz looked back at her imperious best in the 10,000m but it soon became clear these exertions were catching up with the reigning champion. Two very fast laps were followed by a succession of laps in the 68-second range through three kilometres in 8:58.05 and four kilometres in 11:49.95 and while the pace was still quick by anyone's standards, it was not fast enough to draw any of the sting out of Obiri, a sub-four minute 1500m performer in seasons gone by.
Despite possessing the superior finishing speed, Obiri made her first challenge down the back straight on the penultimate lap. Almaz successfully fended Obiri off but when the Kenyan surged again at the same point on the bell lap, Almaz had nothing in response to Obiri's vicious kick. With a last lap of 60.11, Obiri crossed the finish line in 14:34.87 to secure her first global outdoor title, punching the air in delight.
Almaz was being chased down by the fast-finishing Sifan Hassan on the last lap but the Ethiopian had enough of a buffer to hang onto silver medal position in 14:40.36. Almaz's championships ended with her relinquishing her 5000m title but she was still more than pleased with her achievements given her chequered build-up to the championships.
"Compared to Rio this is a bigger achievement," she said. "I've had many injuries this year so I am very happy with two medals. I have been injured for the whole season and haven't been able to get over it. The pain came back after the 10,000m. I did my best today but Hellen was too good at finishing."