August 17, 2016
RIO DE JANEIRO —The two men’s 5000 heats were run this morning and they produced a shock result. All three Kenyans were sent home early. Yes, that’s right. No Kenyans will be running in Saturday night’s final. There will be three Americans, however, as 41-year-old Bernard Lagat was an auto qualifier in heat #1 and Paul Chelimo came on strong late to win heat #2.
The third American, Hassan Mead, went down in a fall with 200 meters left in heat #1 as the kicking was about to begin and the Eugene Register-Guard‘s Chris Hansen reported that Mead’s appeal was unsuccessful and he will not be placed into the final.
UPDATE: After a second appeal, Mead has been placed into the final.
For Kenya, 2015 world championship silver medallist Caleb Ndiku, who has battled injuries in recent years, was in the tactical first heat and he ended up not having it in the kick, finishing just 6th (13:26.02) when there were just five auto qualifiers. Finishing behind him was his countryman Charles Muneria, who was just 12th (13:30.95). Muneria’s non-qualification wasn’t a shock as initially when Kenya’s entries for the 5000 were announced, Kenya only had two names on it. They eventually added the Japanese-based Muneria, the 20-year-old who was the runner-up at the Kenyan Trials in the 10,000. However, his 5000 pb is just 13:23.
The slow times in the first heat would mean that 10 men would qualify out of heat #2 as there were five time spots available. Surprisingly, 2013 world 5000 bronze medallist Isiah Koech wasn’t even able to finish in the top 10 as he was just 12th.
Kenya has medalled in the men’s 5k in the past three Olympics (that streak is now over) and six of the last seven. This is the first time since 1980, when Kenya boycotted the Moscow Games, that Kenya has zero men’s 5k finalists. However there will be three Kenyan-born athletes competing under different flags: Albert Rop (Bahrain), Lagat (USA) and Chelimo (USA).
Other than the Kenyans going home, the results went pretty much according to form. Everyone ranked in the top 10 based on seasonal best time advanced to the final save for Mead, who fell.
||Nearly fell but auto qualified in heat #1
||Auto qualifier in heat #2
||Auto qualifier in heat #2
||Winner of heat #1
||Joshua Kiprui CHEPTEGEI
||Auto qualified in heat #1
||1st time qualifier in heat #2
||Time qualifier in heat #2
|Hassan MEAD |
|13:04.17 |Fell with 200 to go in heat #1, didn’t qualify
||Albert Kibichii ROP
||Auto qualifier in heat #2
||Time qualifier in heat #2
|Isiah Kiplangat KOECH |
|13:08.34 |12th in heat #2, didn’t advance
|Illias FIFA |
|13:11.83 |9th in heat #1, didn’t advance
|Caleb Mwangangi NDIKU |
|13:12.25 |6th in heat #1, didn’t advance
|Antonio ABADÍA |
|13:12.68 |22nd in heat #2, didn’t advance
||Auto qualifier in heat #2
Heat 1: A Fall Costs Hassan Mead And Almost Takes Down Mo Farah And Bernard Lagat
Heat 1 started off super slow with Mo Farah near the front as they went through about a 69-second first lap. From there, Germany’s Richard Ringer and Japan’s Kota Murayama broke away, hitting the first 1000m in 2:47, separating from the rest of the pack, who were content to let them go. Ringer eventually dropped back while Murayama maintained the lead going through 2000m in 5:31, before being caught by with about 7 laps to go with. Hagos Gebrhiwet and Farah eventually moved to the front, running side-by-side with the pace speeding up dramatically as they neared the end of the race with runners shifting places and big names like Caleb Ndiku and USA’s Bernard Lagat and Hassan Mead moving up from the back of the pack to fight for position. They ran 62.6 and 61.5 with 3 and 2 laps to go, but at the bell 10 runners were still in contention for the 5 auto qualifyings spots.
The pace continued to increase, but a large pack remained and just after the 200 mark there was a fall as Mo Farah moved in front of Hassan Mead and their legs made contact. Mead went down and almost took down Farah and Lagat with him as Farah stumbled and Lagat had to jump over Mead. From there, both Lagat and Farah were able to recover and still finish top 5, but by the time Mead got up he was way out of it and came in 13th. Avoiding the tangle completely, Gebrhiwet won the heat in 13:24.65, closing in about a 56 or 57 last lap. He was followed by Bahrain’s Albert Rop, Farah, Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei and Lagat. A surprising sight in the final stretch was Ndiku fading and finishing outside the auto qualifiers in 6th. He was right with everyone at the top of the final straight, but was completely out of gas as the top 5 sped away from him.
QT #1: The Fall
From what we could see in the replay, Farah caused the fall by cutting in front of Hassan Mead, causing Mead to clip his leg. Mead said that he didn’t think Farah cut him off.
“I don’t know, this is what I think happened but it was all pretty blurry because by the time I realized anything happened, I was on the ground,” Mead said. “What I think happened, I was outside of Mo, I moved in at the same time he moved in so I didn’t have the full stride so I ran into him, I think. I don’t know if you would call it him cutting me off. That’s what happened.”
The IAAF initially decided not to advance Mead to the final, a puzzling decision especially given what played out in the women’s 5,000 heats yesterday. There wasn’t an obvious foul when Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin went down, yet both women were advanced to the final. Evan Austria’s Jennifer Wenth, who was minimally impacted by the collision (she never went down but had to slow down to sidestep D’Agostino) was put through despite finishing 14th in her heat. You can argue about whether Hamblin, D’Agostino and Wenth should have been placed in the final, but given that precedent, it is LUDICROUS that Mead was not initially the final, especially considering he was a much greater threat to make the final (and possibly medal) than any of the three women in the 5,000. Mead’s club, the Oregon Track Club, clearly agreed.
Luckily, the IAAF came to its senses and Mead will be in the final on Saturday after appealing a second time.
The fall while heartbreaking for Mead, could have been even more disastrous if Lagat and Farah had also gone down and been passed as no time qualifiers came out of this heat. Mead said he was feeling great at the time of the fall, and added that he plans to run for a medal in the final
QT #2: Caleb Ndiku Was Not Himself
Ndiku was ahead of the fall with Mead and still got passed by Farah and 41-year-old Lagat. At the top of the final straight, Ndiku didn’t even seem to put up a fight as everyone went by him and left him out of the top 5. Not at all what we’ve seen in the past from the 2015 World silver medalist who used to be one of Mo Farah’s biggest challengers.
Despite the silver last year, Ndiku said he hasn’t been the same guy since 2014 (when he was the best 5,000-meter runner in the world) as he’s battled a variety of injuries, most recently an Achilles issue (his left Achilles was taped today). Ndiku is still only 23 years old, and he’s a truly special runner when healthy (he also won World Indoor gold back in 2014) but against the world’s best in Rio, he was overmatched.
QT #3: Lagat felt bad about Mead’s fall and told him to keep his head up after the race
Lagat was right behind Mead when he fell and had to hurdle him to stay on his feet. That didn’t affect him over the final 100 meters though, as Lagat cruised into his fifth Olympic final (two in the 1500, three in the 5k). Afterwards, he expressed regret for Mead.
“You train for four years thinking about one thing and then it ends,” Lagat said. “Your dream, you see it, you almost make the final and in 200 meters, it’s all gone. And I hope they can do something to reinstate him because really, when you think about it, that guy was going to go in anyway.”
Lagat said he feels good about his chances in the final, even if it goes fast, and is really looking forward to racing under the lights on Saturday night as he’s not a morning person. Lagat said he’s happy with how his training has been going and was pleased with his 13:14 in London on July 23 as it was his fastest time for almost two years.
Now Lagat is in position to do something almost impossible in track and field: earn Olympic medals 16 years apart. Lagat said that if you asked him in 2008 if he’d be competing at the 2012 Olympics, he’d have said no way. Then when he did qualify for London, Lagat made sure to march in the opening and closing ceremonies as he assumed that would be his final Olympics. Now here he is four years later, in another Olympic final at age 41. Simply remarkable.
Heat 2: South Africa’s Elroy Gelant Ensures All 5 Time Qualifiers Come From This Heat
After the relatively slow first group, heat 2 knew exactly how fast they needed to go and South Africa’s Elroy Gelant took full advantage of that going straight to the front and starting to drop consistent 65-second laps, bringing the field through 1K in 2:41, 2K in 5:22 and 3K in 8:05 (heat 1 was only 8:15 at 3K). Eventually Gelant got some help as Uganda’s Phillip Kipyeko and Britain’s Andrew Butchart moved up and started leading side by side with USA’s Paul Chelimo and Gelant 3rd and 4th. As the race progressed, Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris, Dejen Gebresmekel and Kenya’s Isiah Koech all started moving up in the pack and things started to ramp up with a 61.18 penultimate lap. A burst of speed at the start of the final lap saw Butchart with the lead over Gebremeskel, Edris, Bahrain’s Birhanu Balew and a small gap to Chelimo as the pack started to break up. But over the last 200m, Chelimo moved up to take the heat win in 13:19 ahead of Edris, Gebremeskel, Balew and Butchart as the next five also made the final with all time qualifiers coming from this heat. Surprisingly left outside the top 10 was the 12:48 man and former World bronze medalist Koech, who only managed 12th here in 13:25.
QT #1: Good Run By Elroy Gelant
When the first heat is slow, there is really no excuse for all the time qualifiers not to come out of the second heat as the runners know exactly how fast they need to go. However, time and time again we see people reluctant to push the pace as they put too much faith in their kicks or are too afraid to lead. So Elroy Gelant deserves some props here (and thanks from the other four time qualifiers) as he set an even pace for the first 3000+ meters and was rewarded with a spot in the final. This also proves why five time qualifiers is way too many in the 5k. There needs to be three, or perhaps only one, and more auto qualifiers.
QT #2: David Torrence Gets National Record And Final Time Qualifier
Moving on to the final was US citizen (representing Peru in Rio) David Torrence. Torrence nabbed the final time qualifier with 10th place in this heat, running a new Peruvian national record of 13:23.20 (Torrence’s PB is 13:16.53 from 2012).
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Down goes Mead
Disaster for Mead