NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 17 –Kenya’s hopes of dethroning double distance Olympic champion Mo Farah in the men’s 5000m went up in smoke after all the three Kenyan bowed out in the qualifying round in Rio De Janeiro on Wednesday.
The Kenyan pair of world silver medallist Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku, 2011 Moscow world bronze medallist Isaiah Koech and new kid on the block Charles Yosei found the going tough from the two qualifying heats.
This means Kenya will miss the podium for the first time in the Olmpic Games after appearing in 2004 (bronze), 2008 (silver and bronze) and 2012 (bronze).
The first semi-final was loaded with talent, featuring defending champion Briton Mo Farah, Ethiopian Muktar Edris, a former world junior champion and Kenyan-born American Bernard Lagat who bagged bronze at 2012 London games.
Despite looking strong and starting well, Ndiku, who was considered a medal prospect and Farah’s challenger, faded to sixth in 13:26.63 to miss out the automatic slot that only needed the first top five.
This meant Ndiku could only wait for the second semi, hoping to advance as one of the five fastest losers.
In that semi, Ethiopian Hagos Gebrehiwet, the 2013 IAAF world cross country champion, won in 13:24.65 with Albert Kibichii of Bahrain caming second (13:24.95) ahead of Farah who automatically qualified third in13:25.25.
Ugandan Joshua Kiprui (13:25.70) and Lagat (13:26.02) completed the automatic qualifying slots in fourth and fifth respectively.
Other Kenyan in the race Yosei finished 12th in 13:30.95.
The final qualifier had only one Kenyan, Koech, who started well, running from behind and pick up in the final two laps.
However, Koech could not manage to maintain the pace on the bell to see him finish 12th in 13:25.15 in a race that was dominated by Kenyan-born American Paul Kipkemoi Chelimo who won the race in 13:19.54 to set the fastest time of the two semi-finals.
Muktar crossed the line second in 13:19.65 ahead of compatriot Dejen Gebremeskel (13:19.67) while Birhanu Balew of Bahrain (13:19.83) and Briton Andrew Butchart (13:20.08) completed the automatic q qualifying slot.