ELDORET, Kenya, July 1 – World Bronze medallist Paul Tanui prevailed the punishing elevation to win the men’s 10,000m at the Olympics Trials that saw World Half Champion Geoffrey Kamworor drop out at a packed Kipchoge Keino Stadium on Friday.
Tipped to win the race, Kamworor, who is also the World Cross Country Champion, withdrew with three laps to go after his all-time rival Bedan Karoki had pulled out with eight laps to go.
Tanui, who clocked 27:46.15 booked an automatic ticket to Rio alongside Charles Yosei who crossed the line second 27:57.07.
Speaking to Capital Sport, Tanui who will be representing the county at the Olympics for the first time,hopes Athletics Kenya (AK) will consider handing Kamworor a wild card.
“The race was tough because the heat was too much but I am so happy to emerge the winner and represent my country in the Olympics for the first time. It was a tactical race and I would like to race with Kamworor and Karoki in the Olympics but I leave that to AK to decide,” Tanui stated.
Despite starting well, leading the opening three laps, Kamworor was unable to contain the fierce contention, saying he encountered stomach problems while injury forced Japan based Karoki to surrender.
It was a battle of titans as Kamworor, Karoki, Tanui, Stephen Sambu and former commonwealth champion Augustin Choge kept on alternating the first position as the race progressed.
With 16 laps to go, the heat became unbearable for some of the athletes as 13 athletes dropped out.
Karoki led the way out to enable Sambu take charge of the race as the crowd cheered up the leading pack of four athletes that had Kamworor, Tanui and Yosei.
However, with seven laps to go, the race was reduced to a showdown of three as Sambu faded to fourth.
More dropped out with the main casualty being Kamworor, to see the crown go silent in shock, leaving Yosei and Tanui battle it out.
On the bell, Tanui was all by himself as received the applause and cheers from the home crowd.