Vivian Cheruiyot wins Olympics gold, Obiri gets silver in 5000m
Vivian Cheruiyot produced one of her finest performances when it mattered most by sensationally clinching the women’s 5,000m gold with a new Olympic record of 14:26.17 early on Saturday morning.
On her way to her first gold medal at the Olympics, Cheruiyot got the better of pre-race favourite Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia as she led her teammate, Helen Obiri to a 1-2 Kenyan finish.
Still hurting from losing the 10,000m gold medal to Ayana seven days ago, Cheruiyot’s victory proved to be the perfect tonic for that heartbreaking of defeat.
Obiri clocked 14:29.77 to take the silver medal ahead of Ayana who finished a shocking third in 14:33.59 while the third Kenyan in the race Mercy Cherono narrowly missed the medal bracket by finishing fourth in a time of 14:42.89.
“I am very happy we were talking and even before the race we met Angwenyi (Peter) who told us to ‘light the fire as there is no man in that race’ we are all equal,” an elated Obiri said.
With five laps to go, it all seemed like a lost course for the Kenyans as Ayana built what appeared to be an insurmountable lead of about 60m.
She later revealed the game plan that they employed to ensure that Kenya won two medals in the race.
“Vivian and I were able to help each other. We never gave up when Ayana tried to kick. She told me to kick and test her. We tried and she (Vivian) said we rest abit before making a move. Then I told Vivian lets go with two laps remaining and that’s when I knew unless one of us died on the track, 1-2 was ours for the taking. We kept talking throughout the race,” Obiri recounted.
The plan worked to perfection as Ayana, who won the 10,000m gold with a new world record time of 29:17.45, began to tire while Cheruiyot and Obiri slowly gnawed on her on lead.
When with two laps to go Cheruiyot caught and got past the Ethiopian, the gold medal was safely in the bag.
At the bell with Cheruiyot cruising, Obiri also took the cue and ran down the flailing Ethiopian on the home straight for an Olympic silver medal in a memorable night for Kenya.