March 20, 2016
PORTLAND, Ore. — The construction of a near-perfect distance résumé for 18-year-old Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia continued this afternoon as he added yet another impressive line to his already sterling list of accomplishments at the 2016 World Indoor Track and Field Championships.
In 2013, Kejelcha won the World Youth title at 3000.
In 2014, he won the World Junior title at 5000.
In 2015, he put up the #1 time in the world at 5000.
In 2016, thanks to a brilliant tactical run this afternoon that Mo Farah would be proud of, Kejelcha won the first senior global title of his professional career as he won the men’s 3000 at the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships in 7:57.21 thanks to 2:22 last 1k. Nabbing the silver was the U.S.’s Ryan Hill, who had a great final 50 meters as he went from fourth to second (7:57.39) just ahead of Kenya’s Augustine Choge (7:57.43). 2015 World leader Abdalaati Iguider failed to medal as he was fourth (7:58.04). Defending champ Caleb Ndiku was the only other person in the field under 8:00 (7:58.81).
The race started off tactically (4:32.78 for the first 1600). The US’s Ryan Hill was perfectly positioned throughout as he was in second for most of the early going, saving ground and running smoothly. The next 400 was faster (61.55) as the defending champ Ndiku made a big move from last to first with six laps remaining.
The last 1k would be very fast (2:22.88 leader to leader). Just before 400 remained (6:32.12), Kejelcha went to the lead and he never gave it up. He hit the bell in 7:29.28 (27.16 leader to leader) and was able to close in 27.93 to get the win. The man with the best last 100 was Hill, who had been gapped a little by the top four with more than 400 to go. As the runners hit the bell, the top four of Kejelcha, Choge, Iguider and Ndiku were all in contact with each other and then Hill was 2-3 meters back. On the backstretch, Hill went by Ndiku and on the final turn he caught up to the back of the leading trio. Hill went by Iguider at the start of the homestretch and then got Choge at the line with a big lean with Kejelcha the much-deserved winner.
Results, quick take analysis and screenshots appear below.
|3||264||Augustine Kiprono CHOGE||KEN||7:57.43|
|5||270||Caleb Mwangangi NDIKU||KEN||7:58.81|
|7||375||Paul Kipkemoi CHELIMO||USA||8:00.76|
|8||267||Isiah Kiplangat KOECH||KEN||8:01.70|
|10||174||Youssouf HISS BACHIR||DJI||8:08.87|
Quick Take #1: Mo Farah May Not Need to Be Worried, But He Needs to Learn Kejelcha’s Name
It seems like every time someone wins a major race that Mo Farah was not involved in, we hype up that person as The Guy Who Could Finally Beat Mo Farah. Time and again, Farah has answered the call, earning double gold at the 2012 Olympics, 2013 Worlds and 2015 Worlds and he’s the favorite to do it again at the 2016 Olympics. While Kejelcha is an exceptional runner, we’re not going to hype him up this time. Farah has come through too many times.
But Farah may want to learn the guy’s name as when he was commentating on the race for NBC, he referred to Kejelcha as “the tall fella from Ethiopia.” Farah also was full of praise for Hill as he moved up for silver at the end of a race.
Quick Take #2: Hill Rode The Rail To Silver
Post-race, Hill acknowledged that his tactics, while possibly costing himself a shot at the gold, helped him win the silver. The rest of the leading group kept throwing in and reacting to surges, and going wide to pass people, while Hill sat on the rail the whole race and ran the least distance possible. When they were all battling for the lead on the third to last turn, he let himself get gapped. While Hill only ended .18 away from gold, we feel he chose the right strategy. Had he ‘run for gold’, we doubt he’d have ended up with silver and he very well may not have medalled as the world leader Iguider was just .65 back in 4th.
The guys going for the win misjudged things a little bit – the penultimate 200 was 27.16, the final 200 was 27.93 – and the fact that they were tying up benefitted Hill, who was running his fastest at the end of the race.
Hill has gone from 10th in his first World Champs (5k outdoors) in 2013 to 7th last year (5k outdoors) to 2nd today. The field at this summer’s Olympics will be more competitive with 2015 medallists Mo Farah and Hagos Gebrhiwet and sixth placer Ben True in the field. But make no mistake, today’s race had a ton of really good guys and Hill beat all but one of them today. Hill acknowledged that he has to continue getting stronger but feels that it is easier to move up at the end of an outdoor race — which has been his preferred strategy at the end of races — and said he’d be happy if the Olympic final went similar to today’s race. One key difference: the race in Rio will be 2,000 meters longer. 3000 is Hill’s best distance and his kick isn’t quite as lethal when he has to run more distance leading up to it.
Quick Take #3: This was a strong field, but Abdelaati Iguider and Caleb Ndiku didn’t wind up with a medal
Iguider, as he did after the prelim, refused to speak in the mixed zone, but we did talk to Ndiku. Ndiku wasn’t too upset but said right now he can’t generate as much power off his left leg due to his injury issues of the last couple years. Ndiku is hopeful that he can get that sorted out before the Olympics and still thinks he can threaten Farah.
Ndiku was also full of praise for Ryan Hill as he saw the results of the U.S. Championships and was impressed by Hill’s performance.
Quick Take #4: A nice effort from Lee Emanuel, who managed sixth despite picking up a nasty gash on his thigh
Emanuel was spiked on his thigh early on and said that while it didn’t bother him during the race, it was starting to hurt as he spoke in the mixed zone. Emanuel went in shooting for fifth and missed it by one spot, but acknowledged that given the depth of this field, he was pleased with sixth.
“It’s one of those moments where you step back and think, ‘Yeah, I wanted to get a medal but I just came sixth in the world,'” Emanuel said. “So it’s a good achievement.”
His strategy was almost identical to Hill’s: ride the rail and stay out of trouble until the real racing began. It worked out pretty well. Emanuel, who won two NCAA mile titles at New Mexico, still trains in Albuquerque with college coach Joe Franklin, said he’s thought about moving up to the 5k but will likely stick with the 1500 this year as he still feels he has room for improvement in that event (his pb is 3:35.66 but he was only 10th at the British Champs last year outdoors). Emanuel admitted that between Mo Farah, Tom Farrell and Andy Vernon in the 5k and Chris O’Hare, Charlie Grice and Ross Murray in the 1500, it’s going to be tough to make the Olympics in either distance.
Paul Chelimo interview
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