NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12- Vivian Cheruiyot bagged silver to hand Kenya her first medal at the Rio Olympics as phenomenal Ethiopian Almaz Ayana smashed the women’s 10,000m World Record at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Friday.
In the opening race of the track and field programme, Ayana cruised to the world record in 29:17.45, breaking Chinese Junxia Wang’s time of 29:31.78 that she set in 1993.
African champion Alice Aprot who led the better part of the race before Ayana took over, was beaten to the bronze medal by defending champion and two-time Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba.
However, despite the defeat, Cheruiyot, who will now wait longer for her first ever Olympic medal set a national record of 29:32.53.
Ayana, the reigning World Champion over 5000m put daylight between herself and World Champion Cheruiyot as she sped off at the halfway mark, with the Kenyan’s aim of putting up with the Ethiopian ending in futility.
Aprot who was the early leader of the race until Ayana’s astonishing bolt off at the halfway mark finished fourth.
Ayana came into the field with the fastest time in the field, having clocked 30:07.00 at the Ethiopian trials in Hengelo in June, which was surprisingly her first ever shot at the distance.
In a blistering race led for the first 12 laps by Aprot, Ayana showed signs of running within the 23-year record time when she sped off after 5km.
Aprot had led the race from the start, having galloped upfront in her long strides just after the gun with compatriots Cheruiyot and Betsy Saina, the Ethiopian trio of Ayana, Dibaba and Galete Burka as well as Kenyan-born Turkish Yasemin Can.
The race shaped up with only four laps gone as eight athletes pulled off from the huge field of 37 to wind down the first kilometer in a time of 3:01:53.
With 10 laps to go, the chuff was separated from the wheat with the leading pack whittled down to six where Dibaba hanged behind leader Aprot, Ayana, Saina and Cheruiyot.
Ayana showed her intent blistering past Aprot just as the leading pack completed the 12th lap, with Cheruiyot following in a bid to keep up with the pace knowing only too well her ability once upfront.
Without looking back, Ayana surged on with Cheruiyot’s attempt at cutting down the gap only working to inspire the Ethiopian more and ultimately with five laps to go, the gap was widened to almost 80m.
Cheered on by the crowd in the stands, Ayana looked at the clock and knowing she was within world record pace pushed further, using her superb finishing kick to race against the clock and pick the new world record that had stood for 23 years.
She will have an opportunity of winning a second goal when she races in her specialty, the women’s 5000m.