It was a much more improved performance by Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot though she fell short of winning the gold medal on Friday as Ethiopian Meseret Defar reclaimed the 5 000m Olympic title after two previous attempts.
Cheruiyot was disappointed by her performance but understandly not her silver, her best achievement at the Olympic Games after two previous attempts.
She raced past Tirunesh Dibaba in the last 50m but her kick was a little too late for the speeding, gritty Defar who became the first woman to win the 5 000m Olympic gold twice in 15.04.25.
The Kenyan, the bronze winner in the 10 000m crossed the line in 15:04.73 for silver, satisfyingly ahead of the pre-race favourite Dibaba, the champion from last Fridays’ race.
Sylvia Kipyego, the silver medalist in the longer track distance race ranked an impressive fourth in her first double attempt in 15:05.79.
"I was disappointed because I came to the Olympics expecting a gold medal, because I have achieved everything except olympic gold,” said Cheruiyot of her races in London which fell short of her two gold medals from Daegu last year.
“It is not good for me after Daegu, but it is still a big achievement to come and double and get a medal in each. I raced tough people.”
It was a very sluggish race that favoured the trio of Dibaba, Cheruiyot and Kipyego racing their second events as Joan Pavey of Great Britain and Italian Elena Romagnolo paced the field through the opening 8laps(3200m).
The Kenyans were tucked at the back of the crowded pack alongside Defar and Gelete Burka as Dibaba opted to trail the early pace setters aware that her sore right leg,might inhibit her performance.
Dibaba injected some pace into the race with about 2 000m remaining boosting the lap times from 73 seconds to about 68, a lead she maintained until the bell.
Barely recovered from her devastating kick last Friday, en-route to her dominant win, Dibaba slackened in the home stretch and couldn’t respond to Defar’s well timed kick for the gold. This was Defars' first major win after a distressing past four seasons dogged by injury and inconsistent form.
The new champion,a bronze medalist from Beijing, was discernably stunned and overwhelmed by her win, which matched compatriots’ Derartu Tulu’s success at the Barcelona and Sydney Games.
"I've won Olympic and world championships gold medals before, but this is by far the best for me. I have gone through a lot of difficulties and challenges in my career and this gold will remove all those pains.”
She continued: “I was feeling great up to the last lap and then I knew that I had a great chance of winning a gold medal,” she explained.
“Tirunesh's decision to increase the pace of the race helped me a lot to win this great gold medal."
Dibaba’s sudden surge also turned the race around for Cheruiyot who could have been fooled by a team ploy between the two Ethiopian rivals.
“Tirunesh is always very quick in the last 1 000.But today I said am going with her until the last minute if she is going to win she is going to win by a mere second,”Cheruiyot the star of the track last year, argued.
“If we allowed Vivian to stay up until the last lap she would have taken the gold medal from us,” Dibaba explained of the race she believed she would have won had she been fully fit.
“That's why I decided to increase the pace so that Vivian gets tired and Meseret benefitted from that and kept the gold medal in the hands of the Ethiopians.”
The race was equally a good test for Viola Kibiwott, sixth in 15:11.59 in what was her first championship 5000m race after her switch from 1500 and also Kipyego who raced in her first double .
“I wanted to prove to people, the officials back home that am strong enough. I heard people saying that I wasn’t able to be able to pull through a double but I proved it today,” said Kipyego who also won silver at the worlds last year in the 10 000m.
“ I was number four but before me was a double Olympic champion, a double world champion and another double Olympic champion these are incredible women and for me to come just behind them it’s a great achievement!”
Obiri survives another fall as Turkish women rule 1500m
At the World championships last year Hellen Obiri recovered from a nasty fall during the women’s 1500m final.
The Kenyan’s Olympic race was again ruined by another incident coincidentally involving American Morgan Uceny , who was again tripped in her second successive championships.
This time Uceny went down hard just after the bell, and a charging Obiri who was attempting a surge narrowly avoided running over her on the track.
The incident disorientated Obiri who lost a few seconds and a grip on the leading pack as she faded to 12th in 4:16.57.
“The final was slow with a lot of pushing. I didn’t see her (Uceny) go down so I had to slow down to avoid her and in the process I got spiked slightly,” a visibly disappointed Obiri explained.
Asli Alpetkin led a 1-2 sweep of medals and Turkey’s first ever Olympic gold after a tactical race.
She won the race in 4: 10.23 with her teammate Gamze Bulut who had led for most of the race settling for silver in 4:10.40, as Maryam Yusuf also won a historic medal for Bahrain in third in 4;10.74.
Ethiopian Abeba Aregawi who had strongly qualified for the final and was favoured to bag a medal placed fifth in 4:11.03.
Evelyn Watta in London
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