Men’s 5000m Prelims: Paul Chelimo Falls and Scrapes By Into Final, A Kenyan Gets Lapped and Eric Jenkins Doesn’t Qualify

August 9, 2017

LONDON –  No one had an easy go of it in tonight’s men’s 5,000 prelims, which had a bit of everything including a Kenyan getting lapped and a fall by the U.S.’s Olympic silver medalist Paul Chelimo. Chelimo got up quickly and was able to run down a time qualifier, but fellow American Eric Jenkins was not as lucky as he could only manage 10th place in a tight heat 1 in 13:31.09. With only the first five going through automatically (plus five time qualifiers), the second heat went marginally faster than the first and as a result all of time qualifiers came from heat 2.

Going by 2017 season’s best, Bahrain’s Albert Rop (12:51 PB, 13:04 SB, #8 on ‘17 list) was the fastest guy to be eliminated, with Belgium’s Bashir Abdi (13:11 SB, #17 on ‘17 list) also going home. The major medal contenders who started the race all made it through, though Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet, the 2016 DL champ who has battled injuries all year and hadn’t completed a track race outdoors this year, was a DNS. Gebrhiwet, who had medalled at the last three global champs, had not raced since April.

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Heat one did not go out quickly (8:18 at 3k, which is 13:49 pace) and even though it picked up marginally over the fourth kilometer, they were still on 13:45 pace with one kilometer remaining, at which point there were still 16 men in the lead pack. With so many guys still together, the battle for the auto spots over the last lap was fierce, though Ethiopians Yomif Kejelcha and Muktar Edris and defending champ Mo Farah of Great Britain all looked pretty good in taking three of the auto spots. Canada’s Justyn Knight, who was third at NCAAs in June for Syracuse, also closed very well, passing several men on the home straight to grab an auto qualifier in fourth. Jenkins, meanwhile, was only 7th with 200 to go and did not have his usual kick, fading to 10th by the finish.

The second heat was faster, with Norway’s Sondre Nordstad Moen getting it going early before Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega took over and continued to push up front. By 3k (8:08), they were 10 seconds up on the pace from heat 1 and as long as they kept pushing, the top 10 would all advance.

With three laps remaining, it was code red for American Paul Chelimo as his legs tangled with Kenya’s Josphat Menjo. Both Menjo and Chelimo fell to the track, and Chelimo had to push hard to rejoin the leaders and did not look comfortable for the rest of the race.

Australia’s Patrick Tiernan took the lead during the final kilometer and kept his foot on the pedal. By the bell, the pack had strung out, and entering the home stretch, a struggling Chelimo was moving backwards after working hard to catch up following the fall. However, both he and fellow American Ryan Hill were able to grab spots in the final (Hill automatically, Chelimo on time) with Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega winning the heat in 13:21.50.

Analysis and interviews below results:

1 899 Yomif KEJELCHA ETHETH 13:30.07 Q
2 954 Mohamed FARAH GBRGBR 13:30.18 Q
3 896 Muktar EDRIS ETHETH 13:30.22 Q
4 758 Justyn KNIGHT CANCAN 13:30.27 Q
5 852 Aron KIFLE ERIERI 13:30.36 Q
6 686 Bashir ABDI BELBEL 13:30.71
7 650 Morgan MCDONALD AUSAUS 13:30.73
8 1172 Soufiyan BOUQANTAR MARMAR 13:30.78
9 1357 Jacob KIPLIMO UGAUGA 13:30.92
10 1409 Eric JENKINS USAUSA 13:31.09
11 651 Sam MCENTEE AUSAUS 13:31.58
12 662 Hayle IBRAHIMOV AZEAZE 13:32.15
13 1316 Emmanuel Giniki GISAMODA TANTAN 13:32.31
14 738 Albert Kibichii ROP BRNBRN 13:32.40
15 1042 Lakshmanan GOVINDAN INDIND 13:35.69 PB
16 867 Illias FIFA ESPESP 13:47.90
17 631 Kadar Omar ABDULLAHI ARTART 14:32.67 PB
18 1291 Mohamed Daud MOHAMED SOMSOM 14:34.27 PB
19 1133 Davis KIPLANGAT KENKEN 14:52.98
20 1296 David KULANG SSDSSD 14:53.19 SB
21 1192 Mohamed SAMBE MTNMTN 16:16.29 PB

Heat 2

1 893 Selemon BAREGA ETHETH 13:21.50 Q
2 734 Birhanu BALEW BRNBRN 13:21.91 Q
3 1147 Cyrus RUTTO KENKEN 13:22.45 Q
4 655 Patrick TIERNAN AUSAUS 13:22.52 Q
5 1402 Ryan HILL USAUSA 13:22.79 Q
6 749 Mohammed AHMED CANCAN 13:22.97
7 950 Andrew BUTCHART GBRGBR 13:24.78
8 1382 Paul Kipkemoi CHELIMO USAUSA 13:24.88
9 1076 Kemoy CAMPBELL JAMJAM 13:26.67
10 850 Awet HABTE ERIERI 13:27.70
11 691 Soufiane BOUCHIKHI BELBEL 13:28.64
12 839 Jamal Abdi DIRIEH DJIDJI 13:28.98
13 733 Zouhair AOUAD BRNBRN 13:29.28
14 1212 Sondre Nordstad MOEN NORNOR 13:31.71
15 1358 Stephen KISSA UGAUGA 13:32.86
16 1141 Josphat Kiprono MENJO KENKEN 13:35.68
17 1007 Richard RINGER GERGER 13:36.87
18 978 Marc SCOTT GBRGBR 13:58.11
1315 Gabriel Gerald GEAY TANTAN DNS

Quick Take: Kenyan 5,000-meter running is officially on life support

Kenya may dominate the marathon and the 1500, but its 5,000 corps is extremely sparse right now. Last year, Kenya failed to put a single man in the Olympic 5k final and this year they’ll only have one, Cyrus Rutto as the other two members of its team struggled mightily.

In heat one, David Kiplangat, the World Youth silver medallist at 3,000 in 2015, finished 19th in 14:52.98 and was lapped. That’s right. A Kenyan runner was lapped in a 5,000 prelim. Watching the race, it was hard to believe what we were seeing.

We weren’t the only ones; when we talked about it with some Kenyan journalists in the mixed zone, they were both sure that Kiplangat was leading the race at the time he was lapped when in fact he was almost 400 meters behind. Let’s hope he was one of the many athletes that got sick this week.

Josphat Menjo, who turns 38 in less than two weeks, didn’t fare much better in heat 2 as he finished in 16th place although it should be pointed out that he went down in a fall with Paul Chelimo.

Kenya has some guys who could have made this final — had Ronald Kwemoi or Geoffrey Kamworor run the 5k in London, they likely would have made it — and 2015 silver medalist Caleb Ndiku has battled injuries for years. But the Kenyan 5,000 ranks haven’t been this thin for a long time.

Quick Take: Paul Chelimo looked rough after falling tonight, but expect better from him in the final

Chelimo looked like he was hurting after working hard to catch the leaders following his fall, and he confirmed that that was the reason for his struggles. (Andrew Butchart who finished right next to Chelimo was coasting in, knowing he’d make it on time, Chelimo did not know that).

“I used a lot of energy to close,” Chelimo said. “I was so relaxed when I fell down.”

Chelimo has been known to take races on from the front (see the USA Indoors 2-mile final and USA Outdoors 5k final this year) but was mum on whether he would take a similar approach in the final. Whether he can medal for the second year in a row remains to be seen, but his coach Scott Simmons has told us Chelimo is ahead of where he was last year. If that’s the case, the world better watch out on Saturday night.

Quick Take: Ryan Hill would love a slower pace in the final

Hill had an easier go of it tonight than Chelimo, and though he ran toward the back of the lead pack for most of his heat, his kick was there when he needed it — as it usually is.

Hill has been on a different schedule from most of his teammates this season, but said he’s run some good workouts recently after reuniting with Mo Ahmed and Matt Hughes in Teddington.

Hill was 7th at Worlds two years ago in a very slow race (13:50) and that figures to be the best path to a medal for Hill, who isn’t as good over 5,000 as he is over 3,000 (World Indoor silver in 2016).

Hill did acknowledge if the pace it too slow, that can also lead to randomness, so he settled on a happy medium.

“Better yet, why don’t we make it about medium-fast and some guys aren’t feeling so good?” Hill said.

That’s Hill’s best-case scenario as he’ll definitely need a few guys to have off days if he is to make the podium.

Quick Take: Mo Farah is the favorite, but he’s not acting as if another 5,000 victory is a given

Farah has won the past five global titles at 5,000 meters and is the heavy favorite to claim a sixth on Saturday. But Farah, who frequently talks about how hard he has to work to stay on the top of his game, knows it won’t be easy, especially in this year’s championships, where so many events have gone off-script. Farah pointed to last week’s 100-meter final, where Justin Gatlin upset Usain Bolt, as an example.

“It would have been nice to see [Bolt] win, but it didn’t happen,” Farah said. “Nobody’s going to give it to you, no matter who you are. No matter who you are, even Usain Bolt.”

Farah said that while the 10,000 took a lot out of him, his knee — which had him hobbling around after the 10k final and caused him to leave the post-race press conference early — was feeling fine today. He’ll three more days to rest it before the final.

Quick Take: Eric Jenkins’ Worlds Ends a Round Early

Jenkins has had a successful 2017, making his first USA national team, and running 13:05 and winning the Millrose Wanamaker Mile indoors. With his good speed, a tactical 5000 would seem to be right up his alley, but he didn’t have it tonight the final 300m and finished 10th in heat 1, missing the final. Jenkins said he felt pretty good with 300 to go, stumbled with 150 to go, and then just didn’t have it. He’s not sure what is next but will go consult with coach Pete Julian. Jenkins is a member of the Nike Oregon Project and Jenkins confirmed head Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar is not at Worlds, but he did not know the reasoning behind Alberto deciding not to come to Worlds.

The U.S. actually launched an unsuccessful protest to place Jenkins in the final, which we have quoted below.

A protests [sic] was presented by the US team after Heat 1 of the 5000m Round 1 Men, claiming that their athlete Erik [sic] JENKINS was obstructed by Azeri athlete Hayle IBRAHIMOV with 150m remaining in the race, impeding his progression.

The US team asked that their athlete Erik [sic] JENKINS be advanced to the Final under Rule 163.2 b)..

The Jury of Appeal examined the video of the incident, and in its opinion, the contact did not impede the progress of the US athlete.. 

The Jury rejected the appeal.

QT:  Canada’s and Syracuse’s Justyn Knight Advances Thanks to Some NCAA Experience

Ahead of Jenkins in heat #1 in fourth place to automatically qualify for the final was Justyn Knight, who was third in the NCAA 5000m this year. Knight credited his experience of racing at the NCAA level with preparing him to get bumped around, and then having the ability to “relax and get back in your zone.”  Knight was able to do that tonight. One thing that is different here than NCAAs is no one expects much out of Knight at Worlds which he took advantage of. “Once you crawl up to the top of that system (NCAAs), you get a lot more attention and a lot more pressure. I came here with an open mind. No one here in London knows who I am. I’m not a big deal and there’s no pressure. I just went into the race to try and do my best,” he said.

QT: NCAA Star Patrick Tiernan Makes Final

The guy one spot ahead of Knight at the NCAA Cross Country Championships was Australia’s and Villanova’s Patrick Tiernan. Tiernan, like Knight, was an auto qualifier in fourth place, but in heat #2.  Tiernan pushed the pace the final 400, and that was to make sure the time qualifiers came from heat #2. But Tiernan was able to get into the final as an auto qualifier. Tiernan wanted to do better than his 29:23 last place finish in Friday’s 10,000m, but he put that behind him and ran well today. Tiernan said he didn’t put much thought into strategizing for today’s 5000 until today.

Quick Take: Morgan McDonald Didn’t Surprise Himself By Qualifying for Worlds

Finishing 7th in heat 1, not fast enough to make the final was 21-year-old Morgan McDonald of the University of Wisconsin.  McDonald has had quite a summer, ripping PRs of 3:55 and 13:15 in Europe, and though those times may have come as a surprise to others, they did not to him: his goal since the end of last year was always to make it to London. He looked to be on the path to doing that after finishing 7th at NCAAs in XC, but an injury cost him a good chunk of the spring, which dampened those odds.

McDonald, who credited his coach Mick Byrne for helping him get to this point, did not let that deter him however, and though he did not advance today, he gained valuable experience and acquitted himself well against the world’s best.

Discussion: Is the End of the World Near? A Kenyan Got Lapped in the Men’s 5000m 

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