NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – Hellen Obiri produced a jaw-dropping performance to floor Ethiopian star Almaz Ayana and storm to the women’s 5000m gold on the last day of the London IAAF World Championships on Sunday.
Obiri proved to her words that she was in the best form of her life when she matched Ayana’s steps up to the bell and unleash the afterburners at the back straight to leave defending champion Ayana trailing and went on to claim her first ever world outdoor title in 14:34.86.
Ayana settled for silver in a season’s best of 14:40.35 to end her dreams of bagging double in the championships after winning gold in the women’s 10,000m on the opening day.
Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands grabbed bronze in 14:42.73 to make amends after missing out a medal in her favourite 1500m final that was dominated by Kenyan Faith Kipyegon.
Obiri, the Olympic silver medallist, said that she gained confidence as Ayana failed to press the accelerator and try and shake her off.
“I was telling myself to go,” she said. “I could see Ayana was not going so I thought, why not? So I said, go. I am mentally strong so I knew I was capable.
“When I crossed the line I was extremely happy, and just wanted to celebrate. All my emotion came out. I wanted the 5000m gold a lot.”
The win for Obiri saw Kenya reclaim the gold for the first time since 2011 when Vivian Cheruiyot won it in Daegu, South Korea and become the second Kenyan woman to ever win the crown.
Ayana, the 10,000m world record holder, had decided to inject some much-needed zip into the pace with nine laps to run and only Obiri was able to match her.
The field was suddenly splintered with Hassan, also from Ethiopia but who came to the Netherlands as a refugee aged 15, leading a group of five contesting the minor medal.
Ayana was unable to burn off Obiri as she had done her rivals in the 10,000m — which she won by over 46 second– with the Kenyan content to let her 25-year-old rival do all the pace-setting.
Her strategy paid off perfectly as heading into the final lap she moved up onto Ayana’s shoulder and then delivered her coup de grace.
Ayana said what she had done in London was even better than her winning the 10,000m in Rio.
“It was a difficult race,” said Ayana. “I am better at leading it to get the win rather than challenging in a final sprint. It was difficult to push Hellen (Obiri) through to the finish line.
“Compared to Rio this is a bigger achievement. I’ve had many injuries this year so I am very happy with two medals,” she said.
Ayana said that she had paid for her astonishing victory in the 10,000m and had run through the pain barrier.
“I have been injured for the whole season and haven’t been able to get over it. The pain came back after the 10,000m. I did my best today but Hellen was too good at finishing. It was all I could today.”