Men's Olympic 5000m Round 1, Americans Advance and Medal Chance Increase as Gebrhiwet Injured, Soi Out

August 8, 2012
London, England

The big news in the men's qualifying of the men's 5000m was that 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Edwin Soi of Kenya did not make the final, and Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet, an Ethiopian medal threat, who did make the final, is dealing with an injury. All three Americans, Lopez Lomong in heat 1, and Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp in heat 2, advanced to the final.

Recap and analysis below.

Heat 1: Edwin Soi Goes Out, Young Ethiopian Star Hagos Gebrhiwet Injured for Final, Lopez Lomong Wants Gold
Heat 1 went out at a very modest 4:31 at 1600. Former NCAA champ David McNeill of Australia went to the front at 1900, and then soon after Azerbaijan's Hayle Ibrahimov took over the lead.

Before 3000m, Olympic 10,000m champion Mo Farah moved up into second to the delight of the British crowd.

This one came down to the final 800m as thirteen guys were still in the lead pack trying to get one of five automatic spots. Amongst them were all the big names including American Lopez Lomong.

Six guys were in contention for the fives automatic spots once the kicking start just after the bell. On the last lap Ibrahimov was clearly best. For much of the final lap, the front three of Ibrahimov, Isiah Koech of Kenya and Hagos Gebrhiwet of Ethiopia were clear of the chasing three of Mo Farah, Lomong and Edwin Soi, in that order. During the final 100m, Farah and Lomong moved up to pass Gebrhiwet to get in the top five. Gebrhiwet hung on for the final qualifying spot.

Afterwards Gebrhiwet revealed to organizers he has been injured saying, "I was feeling an achilles pain on my right leg, and I was struggling to change my pace because of that. The pain started 10 days before I came to London. I was practicing light training since then to avoid any kind of serious injury. I will rest today and hopefully I will recover soon before the final."

Gebrhiwet's injury is a big deal. Not only has he run 12:47.53 this year, he has been consistently good. He won the Shanghai Diamond League meet and was second in Oslo and second in Paris in 12:47.53. He had shown he could place well in fast race (Paris) and moderate races in rain (Shanghai 13:11.00) as well. The 18 year old Gebrhiwet was only a 14:10 guy last year, so the rising star may have burned out at the wrong time.

Soi is a big talent with a big kick and him going out before the final is a surprise, although he was not a medal favorite here. Soi's kick makes him a feared man in any championship race.

Soi ran 12:55.99 in his last race before London, but was only 10th in that race. Soi seemed to slightly mis-timed his kick here. The final 15 meters Soi was stumbling for the line but at that point he was out of the automatic spots, and for nearly the entire final lap he was in the sixth spot.

When LRC talked to him, Soi still hoped to get to the final, and was confident of his chances of doing well in the final. Soi can only blame himself for not making the final automatically. However, Heat 1 is at a huge, huge disadvantage in the 5000m. With 33% of the final field qualifying on time, heat 2 knows what time to beat.

As for the heat winner, Ibrahimov (formerly Haile Desta Hagos of Ethiopia), he got European indoor silver last year behind Mo Farah and almost made the world indoor 3000m final this year. This was his best performance this year by far. His best this year is only 13:20.09 and most recently he ran 13:36.05 for sixth at the European Championships.

His lack of past success has not prevented Ibrahimov of shooting for a medal. He said to organizers, "The race was good. The athletes here are very strong, this is a big competition. The last lap was very fast. This is the first time for me at the Olympics, I am very happy, but this is a semifinal, for the final you need an extra gear, the competition will be tough with Mo Farah. I want a medal, God will decide which one."

Lopez Lomong was glad to get to the final. He said, "I just wanted to race to be able to qualify, so I wasn't looking to win the race and I just wanted to stay out of trouble and not get tripped over. I'm happy, I came out here and got the automatic qualifier, and we'll see you Saturday." Making the final however is not Lomong's goal here. He has a loftier goal. He wants to win the Olympic Gold. Lomong said his goal is, "I want to win, I want to bring the gold medal back to Oregon, to the American people."

Lomong said running 12.5 laps is still a bit "rocky" for him. Lomong in his first international 5000m earlier this year kicked for the finish a lap early. As for the final he said, "Saturday is going to be slower than this with a screaming (final) 2k, and I'm happy for that." When asked, "What's your plan for the final?" Lomong had a simple answer, "Go win."

American distance runners definitely have a new mentality.

Speaking of winners, what about Olympic 10,000m champion Mo Farah. He said, "I'm definitely tired." Now he gets two days of rest and should be ready to go for a great 5000m final on Saturday.

Quick Take (QT) #1: Gebhriwet being injured is a huge, huge deal.

QT #2: The IAAF needs to change the qualifying procedures. To have a third of the final get in by time in a race where people aren't used to pushing the pace by themselves is stupid. If there are 15 in the final, we'd say take 7 from each heat with one qualifier or at least six and three.

Heat 1
08 August 2012 - 10:45
Position Bib Athlete Country Mark .
1 1095 Hayle Ibrahimov AZE 13:25.23 Q .
2 2307 Isiah Kiplangat Koech KEN 13:25.64 Q .
3 1808 Mohamed Farah GBR 13:26.00 Q .
4 3232 Lopez Lomong USA 13:26.16 Q .
5 1689 Hagos Gebrhiwet ETH 13:26.16 Q .
6 2320 Edwin Cheruiyot Soi KEN 13:27.06 .
7 1900 Arne Gabius GER 13:28.01 .
8 2138 Daniele Meucci ITA 13:28.71 .
9 2371 Moukheld Al-Outaibi KSA 13:31.47 .
10 1254 Bilisuma Shugi BRN 13:31.84 .
11 1754 Hassan Hirt FRA 13:35.36 .
12 2234 Yuki Sato JPN 13:38.22 .
13 1051 David McNeill AUS 13:45.88 .
14 1129 Olivier Irabaruta BDI 13:46.25 .
15 2459 Aziz Lahbabi MAR 13:47.57 .
16 1598 Amanuel Mesel ERI 13:48.13 (SB)
17 1038 Collis Birmingham AUS 13:50.39 .
18 3137 Serhiy Lebid UKR 13:53.15 .
19 3115 Geofrey Kusuro UGA 13:59.74 (SB)
20 2372 Hussain Jamaan Alhamdah KSA 14:00.43 .
21 2635 Rene Herrera PHI 14:44.11 (PB)
. 1597 Teklemariam Medhin ERI DNS .
Intermediate Bib Athlete nat Mark
1000m 2307 Isiah Kiplangat Koech KEN 2:49.96
2000m 1051 David McNeill AUS 5:35.87
3000m 1689 Hagos Gebrhiwet ETH 8:19.44
4000m 1689 Hagos Gebrhiwet ETH 10:58.82

Heat 2: Galen Rupp Returns to the Track, Bernard Lagat Begins Quest
With five qualifiers for the final coming on time and heat 1 having only been won in 13:25, the runners in heat 2 had the huge advantage of going second. As long as the pace was under 13:26, ten qualifiers from this heat would make the final.

Craig Mottram, the former Aussie great did some of the early leading, then American Galen Rupp took over before 2000m, to keep the pace honest, knowing getting in the top ten is a lot easier then the top five. The pace slowed the third kilometer and just before 3000m Mottram was back in front. The field was 12 seconds faster at 3000m than heat 1, so the time qualifiers likely were coming from this heat.

Twelve guys were still in the front group with 600m to go. With 300m to go, seven were in the front group, the two Americans, the two Ethiopians, Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa of Kenya, Moses Kipsiro of Uganda, and Abdalaati Iguider of Morocco, who got bronze in the 1500m the night before. Two chasers including NCAA star Cam Levins of Canada were nearby.

During the last 100m, Rupp stayed in back and looked around knowing that top ten was good enough. Kipsiro dropped back as the top five moved clear to the line with 2012 World leader, Dejen Gebremeskel getting the win. Bernard Lagat did not let up and ran hard through the line.

The top ten all made the final including Rupp and Cam Levins.

Gebremeskel and Ethiopian Tea Tactics
Afterwards, 12:46.81 world leader, Gebremeskel, was open to the possibility of Ethiopian team tactics in the 5000m when discussing the final with LRC. (If Gebrhiwet is seriously injured, a strategy might be for the Ethiopians to talk him to serving as the rabbit for two miles). Gebremeskel realizes he needs a fast pace to try and get gold as he told organizers, "We have to make it a fast race from the beginning to reduce the number of challengers. That was the problem in the 10,000m, it was a very slow race and it gave everyone a chance of winning a medal."

Silver Medallist Rupp Runs Again
Rupp ran like a veteran silver medallist, ensuring the pace was fast enough and not wasting energy. He said, "I wanted to make sure I got out early. I don't feel too bad. I'm a little tired and it's a morning race." He was glad his race was even paced rather than sit and kick saying, "It's easier on you body to run even rather than have the wild ass sprint at the end."

Galen was able to cruise the last 100m knowing top ten was good enough. He said, "I looked around the last 100 and knew that I was alright, but at the same time you have to make sure you have that extra gear in case it was slow."

Bernard Lagat Talks About Advising Leo

Bernard Lagat was glad to finally get on the track and to be healthy at the Olympics for the first time since 2004 when he got silver at 1500m for Kenya. Lagat said, "My coach (James Li) told me to be prepared that this race is going to be fast, and indeed it was fast. He told me to make sure you are in good position and run relaxed, and I did. He told me, towards the end run a bit faster and be with the guys who are leading, and as long as you know you are safe, no need to win, just run hard...I was quite happy with it."

Lagat also talked about advising Olympic 1500m silver medallist Leo Manzano on his tactics in London. Lagat who isn't staying in the Olympic Village, went to the Village and gave advice to Leo. Then Bernard watched Leo run and saw something Leo didn't do. So Lagat, then went back and sought Leo out and gave him more advice as they watched video of the race. Lagat's advice was, "Stay out of trouble. When someone starts to go crazy, don't go especially with 300m to go, don't go, don't get boxed in..." Lagat also said once it opens up, don't move back inside or you'll get boxed until the finish.

Now Lagat's attention moves to the 5000m final where he will have his hands full with Mo Farah and Galen Rupp. On the final Lagat said, "I can see that last 1000 going crazy, maybe even the last 2k, who knows because Mo Farah is the guy who can run strong towards the end. That guy is going to run crazy. He has a lot of support and I think he is going to do well."

Craig Mottram Ready to Move to Marathon, Cam Levins Makes Final
Afterwards, Aussie star Craig Mottram said this was his last track 5000m at the Olympics, as his desire is to move up to the marathon this fall. As for this race, he said, "The heats are designed to get rid of the weaker runners and I was always one of those (this year)." The 32 year old Mottram said his goal was to just to get to the Olympics this year, his fourth on the track at 5000m. He said at 32, he just can't do it anymore on the track. Now he gets to observe the rest of the Olympics as a spectator and is looking forward to the 5000m final on Saturday, "Should be a cracking race on Saturday".

Cam Levins said the 10,000m final gave him a lot of experience and confidence that, "I may not be the top guy, but I'm a very good runner." During the race he said was to "try and get top 5, but it if you don't there is a good chance (if you're top 10)." Levins said the success of the Americans has shown him, "The world isn't unbeatable."

QT: Three Americans in the final, with two with what we consider good medal shots (Lomong Rupp and Lagat), and the third one talking about trying to win it. Times have changed.

 QT #2: We know Rupp knew he had it on time but he definitely looked a little tired after crossing the finish line. And Farah admitted as much. The 10,000/5,000 double is much easier now than it was when guys had to run two rounds of the 10k as the previous races definitely tire you out.

1 1688 Dejen Gebremeskel ETH 13:15.15 Q .
2 1677 Yenew Alamirew ETH 13:15.39 Q .
3 2310 Thomas Pkemei Longosiwa KEN 13:15.41 Q .
4 3231 Bernard Lagat USA 13:15.45 Q .
5 2456 Abdalaati Iguider MAR 13:15.49 Q .
6 3250 Galen Rupp USA 13:17.56 q .
7 3114 Moses Ndiema Kipsiro UGA 13:17.68 q .
8 1293 Cameron Levins CAN 13:18.29 q (PB)
9 2495 Juan Luis Barrios MEX 13:21.01 q .
10 1553 Mumin Gala DJI 13:21.21 q (SB)
11 1592 Abrar Osman Adem ERI 13:24.40 .
12 1821 Nick McCormick GBR 13:25.70 .
13 3073 Polat Kemboi Arikan TUR 13:27.21 .
14 1005 Rabah Aboud ALG 13:28.38 .
15 3112 Abraham Kiplimo UGA 13:31.57 .
16 1053 Craig Mottram AUS 13:40.24 .
17 2092 Alistair-Ian Cragg IRL 13:47.01 .
18 2450 Soufiyan Bouqantar MAR 13:47.63 .
19 1021 Javier Carriqueo ARG 13:57.07 (SB)
20 2373 Abdullah Abdulaziz Aljoud KSA 14:11.12 .
21 1446 Ruben Sanca CPV 14:35.19 .
Intermediate Bib Athlete nat Mark
1000m 1053 Craig Mottram AUS 2:38.57
2000m 3250 Galen Rupp USA 5:19.87
3000m 1053 Craig Mottram AUS 8:07.93
4000m 3114 Moses Ndiema Kipsiro UGA 10:49.03

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