Ethiopia wins 10,000m Olympic gold as Uganda takes silver and bronze

Friday July 30 2021
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Ethiopia's Selemon Barega celebrates after winning in the men's 10000m final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 30, 2021.

By Nation. Africa

Tokyo. Ethiopia's Selemon Barega is the new 10,000 metres Olympics champion.

The 21-year-old Ethiopian, who is making his maiden appearance at the Olympics, stunned Uganda's pre-race favourite and world champion Joshua Cheptegei to second while Uganda's Jacob Kiplimo was third.

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Ethiopia's Selemon Barega celebrates after winning in the men's 10000m final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. PHOTO | AFP

Barega clocked 27:43.22 in a stunning sprint finish to take gold while Cheptegei timed 27:43.63 for silver. Kiplimo clocked 27:43.88 for as Barega's compatriot Barihu Aregawi wound fourth in 27:46.16.

Barega joins a revered list of Ethiopian greats - Miruts Yifter, Haile Gabrselassi and Kenenisa Bekele - who have won the 10,000m Olympics gold.

Kenya's medal hopeful Roders Kwemoi of Kenya was 7th in 27:50.06.

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Cheptegei of Uganda, who holds the world record of 26:11, stayed at the back for the early stages of the race with his compatriot Stephen Kissa out alone at the front.

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Ethiopia's Selemon Barega (right) crosses the finish line to win ahead of second-placed Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei in the men's 10000m final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. PHOTO | AFP

At some point, Kissa had a 50metres lead prompting Ethiopia's Salomon Barega to go after him, drawing Rhonex Kipruto with him.

Kissa would stay at the front with Barega eventually dropping to the back, while Kipruto and Weldon Kipkirui took turns at second and third. Cheptegei and Kiplimo stayed close, bidding their time to strike.

Kipruto then surged to the front with 17:59.50 with Cheptegei following him into second. Kiplimo remained fourth with Yomif Kejelcha in pursuit, as Kissa dropped out of the race.

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From right:) Uganda's Stephen Kissa, Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei, Kenya's Weldon Langat France's Morhad Amdouni, Japan's Akira Aizawa and Japan's Tatsuhiko Ito compete in the men's 10000m final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on July 30, 2021. PHOTO | AFP

With fives laps to go, Cheptegei zoomed past Kipruto with Canada's Mohammed Ahmed following suit. Rodgers Kwemoi then came to the shoulder of Cheptegei with four laps remaining.

Mo Farah, Great Britain’s double gold medalist in the 10,000 and 5,000 metres, most bizarrely didn’t qualify for these Olympics, leaving Cheptegei the clear favourite.

Farah’s absence from the field meant a new Olympic champion will be crowned in Tokyo for the first time since 2012.

Naftali Temu was the last Kenyan to win 10,000m Olympic gold during the 1968 Games in Mexico and it seems the wait is not about to end after Kwemoi, Kipruto and Kipkorir finished well outside the medal bracket.