5000 Heats: All 3 Americans, Luis Grijalva and Justyn Knight Advance, Getnet Wale Does Not

By Letsrun.com
August 3, 2021

TOKYO — The Olympic 5,000-meter final, which will take place on Friday (8 a.m. ET time) is now set, and there will be just one Ethiopian (Ethiopia had qualified the max of three in every Olympics since 2000) and one Kenyan (though that’s actually an upgrade from 2016, when Kenya had zero finalists). All three Americans (Paul Chelimo, Woody Kincaid, Grant Fisher) made it, as did Canadians Moh Ahmed and Justyn Knight. Guatemala’s Luis Grijalva, whose Olympic future was uncertain barely a week ago due to his DACA status, not only made it to Tokyo but made it to the Olympic final as he grabbed the fifth and final time qualifier out of heat 2, outkicking former NCAA champ Morgan McDonald of Australia in the process.

Chelimo looked comfortable in grabbing an auto spot out of heat 2, while Fisher qualified on time, knowing that heat 2 had gone faster than the previous one and that he only needed to finish in the top 10 to qualify.

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Heat 1 wasn’t kind to 3 of the 5 men who entered it with sub-13 pbs as Getnet Wale, the Ethiopian Trials champ (12:53 sb), Nibret Melak (12:54), the Ethiopian Trials runner-up, and Kenyan runner-up Daniel Simiyu (12:55 sb) were all eliminated although Simiyu did fall and it’s possible he gets into the final on appeal.

Heat 1 went out slow (2:50 for 1k and 5:43 for 2k) which meant 15 guys were together at the bell kicking for 5 auto spots. It just came down to who was best on the bell lap. Kincaid was boxed down the final straight but moved out and closed well.

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Heat 2 had the huge advantage of knowing what time to beat. It went out slow (2:50 for the k) but they then increased the pace (5:36 for 2k) and were 7 seconds up on heat 1 which virtually assured 10 people from heat 2 would qualify for the final. A huge advantage to be in heat #2.

Marc Scott – “We don’t take the front at Bowerman”

There was a lot of talent in each of the two heats today – each heat had 5 guys who had broken 13:00 this year – and only the top 5 in each heat were guaranteed to advance (5 more time qualifiers). After heat #1 finished (and before heat #2 was run), we asked Marc Scott, who was 6th in heat #1 but missed out on qualifying as all of the time qualifiers came from heat #2 if he and his BTC teammates Mo Ahmed and Woody Kincaid, ever considered pushing the pace so maybe someone could grab a time qualifier.

“No, as you know, we don’t take the front at Bowerman. We trust our closing speed enough to be able to beat those guys in a final, final lap and I think we showed up pretty well today,” said Scott who outkicked 12:53 man Getnet Wale of Ethiopia as well as 12:55 man Daniel Simiyu.

When asked what type of race he’d like to see in the final, Justyn Knight said: “I’d like to see a race that I win.”

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“I’d like to see a race that I win,” said Knight with a laugh. “You don’t have to quote that one but I think I think looking at the final you know the type of person I am the type of coach that I have, you’d like to prepare for everything…Yeah for sure and you know Jonathan (Gault) you’ve known me for a long time and in the NCAA I wanted to win so many of those races, every race that I went to at NCAAs from when I was a freshman, I wanted to win.”

“Now, whether I won or not, you know you know my stats, I only won cross country once. I won one indoor title, but every race that I went into, I tried to win and it’s the same thing on the pro level. You get to a point in your life in your career where not that winning is everything but if you’re not trying to win on this level, then what are you really trying to do? So whether or not that’s very likely I don’t know but my attitude is always to be the best that I can be and do the best for Canada and for my coaches and my teammates and wherever that lands me is great but the goal is always to try to be the best.”

Luis Grijalva only found out last Monday that he’d be in the Olympics, only got here on Sunday and now he’s the first Guatemalan to ever make an Olympic track final

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We wrote about Grijalva’s journey to the Games a few weeks ago. As someone with DACA status, he needed a special permit to leave the United States and it can take months, but he got it in 25 days and today he made the most of his opportunity – his first trip out of the country since he left Guatemala as a baby – as he snagged the final time qualifier in heat #2 where he was 10th in 13:34.11.

By making the final, he’s the first Guatemalan to ever make a track and field final (Guatemala apparently hadn’t even had a male track Olympian since 2000). Grijalva said it “feels awesome” and “surreal” to be in the final.

Grijalva also said today’s race was very “messy” and much more physical than what he finds in the States in terms of pushing and pulling.

If you’d told us two weeks ago that Luis Grijalva would be in the Olympic 5000 final but Getnet Wale wasn’t, we wouldn’t have believed you.

WR holder Joshua Cheptegei: “I hope that I win gold on Friday. That is my expectation.”

*Heat Results here

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