RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, August 20 – Two-time former world champion Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya rained on Ethiopian Almaz Ayana’s bid for an Olympic distance double, kicking with two laps to run to seal gold in the women’s 5000m on Friday.
Cheruiyot, who won silver in the London Games four years ago, timed a new Olympic record of 14min 26.18sec, with team-mate Hellen Obiri taking silver in 14:29.77.
Ayana, who set an amazing world record to win the 10,000m earlier in the week, had to be happy with bronze.
“Almaz got ahead but then I thought ‘she’s not moving’. I went past her,” said the 32-year-old Cheruiyot.
“Almaz is such a great athlete, we thought she would win again.
“It was my fourth Olympic Games and I had not had gold.
“Almaz can go fast for 400m, then slow it down. Today I said, ‘I am going to follow her. I am not going to lose her’. I’m so happy.”
Obiri added: “Ethiopia were very strong. We decided to go for teamwork.
“We already knew that Kenya was going to win the gold! It was just who would it be.”
Japan’s Miyuki Uehara set the early pace at the Olympic Stadium, Ayana sitting comfortably in second, with Cheruiyot and Obiri on her shoulder.
With eight laps to go, Ayana surged, immediately splitting the field as the eventual Kenyan medallists, team-mate Mercy Cherono and Kenyan-born Turk Yasemin Can battled to stay with the Ethiopian.
Ayana timed 7:39.8 through the halfway point, but suddenly flagged.
Cheruiyot duly reeled her in and took the lead with 800 metres to run.
The Kenyan turned the screw and belted through the final lap, followed by Obiri, as the tiring Ayana held on for the final podium spot.