On the last day of 2016 Games’ Track-and-field action, legendary long-distance runner Mo Farah of Great Britain added 5000m gold medal to the one he had already collected in 10000m last Sunday. Farah thus repeated his 5K/10K performance in London 4 years ago and joined Finland’s Lasse Viren, who was the only man to win the 5K/10K double-double at Olympic Games at Munich in 1972 and Montreal in 1976. While the last few days in track-and-field threw up expected performances, there were also some disappointments. South Africa’s Caster Semenya won women’s 800m; Spain’s Ruth Beitia took the gold in women’s high jump, Greek woman Stefanidi Ekaterini won women’s pole vault and Germany’s Thomas Rohler won the gold in men’s javelin. But many athletes have met with disappointment. World-record holder pole-vaulter Renaud Lavillenie was brought to tears, not because he lost the gold in a duel with a Brazilian, but the stadium crowd booed him constantly. Women’s 10000m world record holder Almaz Ayana lost the 5000m to Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot, Asbel Kiprop missed out on the gold in men’s 1500m won surprisingly by USA’s Matthew Centrowitz and USA’s Joe Kovacs missed men’s shot put gold and .
Mo Farah was committed to winning the 5000m on August 20 at Rio. Farah planned his strategy well and began with a humble pace to run behind the pack for the first few minutes. Ethiopians led the top bunch, a familiar sight in many long-distance events for men and women. But a 5 km race lasts a long time and it is a huge drag on the athletes’ stamina. Experience, therefore counts and 33-year old Farah had that in ample measure. The top men hit 3k in 7:57 but Farah was still somewhere in the middle. At 3200m, Farah came ahead and kept reducing the go-around time over the next 4 laps. In the last lap, Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet fought ferociously with Farah but the Brit held him at bay. When they entered the final turn, only Farah, Gebrhiwet, Ethiopia’s Muktar Edris, Canada’s Mo Ahmed and USA’s Paul Chelimo remained in contention. On the last straight, Farah decisively took the winning stride but Gebrhiwet was surpassed by Chelimo. The American tried to outrun Farah in closing stages but Farah burst away in the last 50 meters to win and complete the historic double. Chelimo was second and Gebrhiwet third.
Some athletes had been waiting for the Rio Games to prove their superiority in their disciplines. South Africa’s Caster Semenya was one among them. She duly clinched women’s 800m Olympic gold with a new personal best and South African record. The event went very much on expected lines with Semenya clocking 1:55.28 to second-placed Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi’s time of 1:56.49. Kenya’s Margaret Wambui took the bronze with 1:56.89. Spain’s Ruth Beitia was a heavy favorite to win women’s high jump and she expectedly emerged on top with 1.97m in her first attempt. Bulgaria’s Mirela Demireva took the silver and Croatia’s Blanka Vlasic bronze. They all cleared the same height but Beitia had fewer failures at earlier heights to emerge on top. It was perhaps the last Olympic appearance for the 37-year old Spaniard, who is also a Member of Parliament in her hometown of Cantabria. Greek Ekaterini Stefanidi won women’s pole vault gold by narrowly edging out USA’s Sandi Morris. Both Stefanidi and Morris were tied at 4.85m but Stefanidi was declared the winner on fewer failed jumps. New Zealand’s Eliza McCartney took the bronze with 4.80m. Another pre-Olympic favorite Germany’s Thomas Rohler won men’s javelin gold with a throw of 90.30m while Kenyan world champion Julius Yego finished second with 88.24. London Olympic gold medalist Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago took the bronze with 85.38.
Besides these expected performances, there were some athletes, who faced disappointments. World-record holder French men’s pole-vaulter Renaud Lavillenie was left in tears after he was loudly jeered by the crowd. The 29-year old Lavillenie faced the crowd ire after he accused them of bad sportsmanship, when he contested with hometown hero Thiago da Silva. da Silva. The Brazilian won after clearing 6.03m to Lavillenie’s 5.98. USA’s Sam Kendricks collected the bronze in 5.85. Another poor finish came the way of Kenya’s triple World Champion Asbel Kiprop in men’s 1500m. The event saw USA winning the gold after 108 years, when Matthew Centrowitz pulled off a shock victory in a field brimming with African talent. Centrowitz held off Algeria’s defending champion Taoufik Makhloufi to finish in 3:50:00 almost 24 seconds outside the world record. Kiprop was tipped to break the world record but he finished a poor sixth. In the slowest final in 82 years, Makhloufi took the silver in 3:50:11 and New Zealand’s Nick Willis got bronze in 3:50:24. US shot putter Joe Kovacs also suffered disappointment in losing the gold to compatriot Ryan Crouser. While Crouser hurled the sphere to a distance of 22.52m, Kovacs took the silver in 21.78. New Zealand’s Tomas Walsh won the bronze with 21.36.
Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot won women’s 5000m to avenge her loss to Ethiopian Almaz Ayana in 10000m last week. Many people had assumed that Ayana would earn her second Rio gold but Cheruiyot had other ideas. The short-statured Kenyan produced one of the biggest shocks by keeping Ayana at bay and winning with an Olympic record of 14:26.17. Earlier, Ayana had opened a huge gap of 30 meters and with 5 laps remaining, it became 40. But in the last 600m, Cheruiyot passed the Ethiopian and never looked back. Another Kenyan Hellen Obiri also went past Ayana to take the silver in 14:29.77 while Ayana took bronze with 14:33.59.
US sprinter Allyson Felix won her 5th Olympic gold and 8 overall when her team won 4×100 women’s relay leaving Jamaica at the second spot. The team of Tianna Bartoletta, Allyson Felix, English Gardner and Tori Bowie crossed the finish line 0.35 ahead of the Jamaicans. The last athletic event at the 2016 Games was men’s marathon won by Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge in 2:08.44. The silver medal went to Ethiopia’s Feyisa Lilesa, who clocked 2:09.54 while USA’s Galen Rupp took the bronze in 2:10.05.
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