Strong qualification for Kenya's 5k women, injury concern for Manang’oi in 1500

By evelyn watta
Aug 16, 2016
  • Hellen Obiri and Mercy Cherono follows Japanese Miyuki Uehara in the women's 5000m.(Photo by Norman Katende)

  • Vivian Cheruiyot avoids a collusion with Ethiopian Senbere Teferi in the women's 5000m.(Photo by Norman Katende)

  • Elijah Manng'oi in the men's 1500m qualifying heats.(Photo by Norman Katende)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Ethiopian’s Almaz Ayana’s smashing pace in the women’s 5000m heats highlighted the early session of the Athletics programme at the Rio stadium on Tuesday, an event that saw Kenyan’s Vivian Cheruiyot, Hellen Obiri and Mercy Cherono all qualified for the final.

Asbel Kiprop and Ronald Kwemoi booked semi final berths in the men’s 1500m, though qualified, Elijah Manang’oi hobbled out of the track at the finish, holding onto his left leg.

In the women’s 5000m first heat, Obiri and Cherono stayed with the crowded pack, careful not to burn out in already scorching conditions in the day’s opening track event.

Japanese Miyuki Uehara did the pacing until around the 3000m mark when Kenyan born Turkish Yasemin Can moved forward and lapped before the bell with 2013 world silver medallist Cherono and Obiri running only her fourth 5000m well poised just a step behind.

Obiri hit the line first in 15:19.38 as Can, the double distance European champion qualified second in 15:19.50 while Cherono placed third in 15:19.56.

“I like the way my body is adapting to the 5000m,” Obiri said after the race.

“I am not going to fear anybody or single out anyone, I am just here to run my race. Whichever way the race goes ill be ready. If she (Ayana) decides to go fast we will keep the pressure.”

Ayana’s heat was the fastest as she stretched out after the first two laps from the rest of the pack.

The only variation in the race was the increasing gap between the 10000 world record holder and the pursuing group led by Vivian Cheruiyot, the Kenyan silver medallist behind the fleety Ayana last Friday.

Kiprop, Manang'oi, Kwemoi 

Kiprop was the usual stalker of the men’s field in the first heat then shifting gears in the last lap thanks to his lanky strides after Frenchman Florrian Carvalho had paced for the opening two laps.

The 2008 Olympic champion timed 3:28.97.

The second heat was a tensed one for Manang’oi as he raced most of it with his shoe almost flapping as his spike was stepped on, but he still managed to qualify second in 3:46.83 behind Algeria Taoufik Makhloufi who was back on the track barely 12 hours after the 800m final where he picked silver. Makhloufi was timed 3:46.82.

“I am a bit uncomfortable.I ran halfway with my shoe barely holding my feet. Now my leg feels tight, am not in my best shape. I hope some physio will help,” he said as he clutched his glutes.

Ronald Kwemoi avoided the pushing and shoving in his heat opting to run the first 600m at the back then slowly eased forward to second in 3:38.33, behind Jakub Holusa, from the Czech Republic in 3:38.31.

“I was just testing to see how the body responds if I start running from the back or in the middle and finally at the front as I have to get the best fit for the semi finals and hopefully final,” said the 20-year-old.

Kenya’s sole contender in the 400 m hurdles women Maureen Jelagat had a ‘bad day’ in office on Monday night, struggling through the heats of her qualifying race won by Jamaican Ristannana Tracy in 54.88 seconds.

The 57.97 was nowhere near the African silver medallists near personal best of 56.12 but a more improved performance from the 1:02.16 she timed in London 2012.

“It was just a bad day in office. It was just one of those days,” the 31-year-old said regretfully.