Ethiopia’s Yigrem Demelash brought the Kenyan dominance at the event to a halt today to grab the gold medal in style in a career best of 28:16.07.
The Kenyan pair of Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui and Philemon Kipchilis Cheboi had been hotly tipped as the main favourites but Demelash proved to be a master tactician and his arch-rivals Kenyans had to settle for the minor places on the podium on this occasion.
The race opened quite conservatively as the lonesome early leader China’s Binlu Wang went through the opening 1000m in 2:55.54 and a full 10-second margin over the rest of the 34 competitors. The Kenyan pair injected a lethal pace some 1500m into the race and only the Ethiopian duo and Uganda’s Moses Martin Kurong were able to live with their pace.
Kirui, who holds an impressive 26:55.73 to rank second on the all-time Junior lists, opened full gas after the second kilometre and an impressive 8:15 split for the following three kilometres led him lonesome at the front. Even before the halfway, Kirui began to lap the slowest contenders.
The 5000m was reached in 14:14 with Kirui still leading but shortly after the sixth kilometre the Kenyan began to falter a bit to be caught by Cheboi and Demelash. It was Cheboi who took charge of the race then with respective splits of 2:48 for the seventh and eighth km; surprisingly, that kind of pace proved to be enough to leave Kirui behind while Demelash stayed comfortably at Cheboi’s shoulder.
The decisive moment came some three laps home when Cheboi was unable to maintain his own pace and was effortlessly passed by Demelash, who covered the penultimate 1000m section in 2:51.41.
There were no remarkable changes in the closing laps with Demelash ruling at the bell some 40m ahead of Cheboi, himself another 30m clear of Kirui. In addition to Demelash PB of 28:16.07 Cheboi also produced a career best of 28:23.98 in second for Kirui’s 28:30.47 in third.
Demelash, who lapped every athlete from sixth onwards, is not entered in the 5000m event despite holding an impressive and recent PB of 13:03.30.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF