NAIROBI, August 20 – Good day for Kenya at the Olympics in Beijing as all its six athletes in action progressed to the next round on Wednesday.
The 5,000 metres trio of Edwin Soi, Eliud Kipchoge and Thomas Longosiwa all cruised to the final while the 800 metres team of Wilfred Bungei, Alfred Kirwa and Boaz Lalang also safely negotiated their paths to the semifinals of the two lap race.
Running in heat two, Soi was the pick of the 5,000 metres winning his heat in confident fashion in a time of 13:46.41.
The 22 year old stayed in the pack of a painfully slow race letting others do the hard work before turning on the afterburners with 200 metres to go to.
In the first heat, Kipchoge was happy to coast in second place behind Mathew Tagenkamp of the United States who won in 13:37.36. Kipchoge was always in the top two throughout the race and looks a good bet to improve on his bronze from Athens in 2004.
It was a lot closer for Longosiwa who had to stretch in the final stretch to qualify in fourth position.
Thrown in the same heat as Bernard Lagat, Olympic 10,000 metres champion Kenenisa Bekele and Craig Mottram, Longosiwa panicked hitting the top gear at the bell but he was unable to sustain the finishing to the end hanging on to dear life to finish fourth and earn automatic qualification.
Earlier, veteran Bungei declared his intentions early with a seasonal best time of 1:44.90 to win heat one ahead of defending Olympic Champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy who was second in 1:45.15.
In heat four, World champion Kirwa applied his late finishing kick in the last 100 metres to finish second in 1:46.04. The in the final heat, 19 year old Lalang finished second to advance to the quarterfinals in 1:45.72.
Action continues Thursday with the 1500 metres team of Nancy Jebet Lagat, Irene Jelagat and Viola Kibiwott in action semifinals of the race.
The 800 metres squad will then battle it out for a place in the competing in the tough semifinals.