Kimeli through to 5000m final, Masai no-show at Olympics
Nicholas Kimeli is through to the Tokyo Olympics men’s 5000m final after topping his heat with a 13:38.87 run at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday.
Teammate Daniel Simiu faded to finish tenth after a costly tumble in the eighth lap when he was tripped by Frenchman Hugo Hay.
Canadian Mohammed Ahmed was second with William Kincaid (USA), Oscar Chelimo (Uganda) and Birhanu Balew (Bahrain) also among the top five finishers with guaranteed qualifying slots.
Kimeli ran a steady race, only briefly letting Ahmed take the lead before the Canadian fell back to third behind the Kenyan champion and Simiu.
Kimeli was looking composed with a one-meter lead with two laps left as Simiyu dropped to fifth with Ethiopian Nibret Melak and Ahmed keeping tabs just behind.
The 22-year-old Kimeli faced a strong challenge from Ahmed and Kincaid at the final bend and was almost overtaken but he injected a fresh acceleration of pace to regain his lead.
Spaniard Mohamed Katir ran 13:30.10 for a comfortable victory in the second heat with Kenyan Samwel Masai not starting that race.
The race began on a slow pace in the opening lap but picked over the second with Katir, South Africa’s Leshiba Mashele and American Paul Chelimo remaining at the center of the action through the entire race.
Chelimo matched Katir went toe to toe in the final straight and the American appeared to ease in the final meters with qualification already assured. Canadian Justyn Knight was third.
The Ugandan pair of Jacob Kiplimo and Joshua Cheptegei, who won bronze and silver respectively in the 10,000m race, closed out the top five places to qualify for Friday’s final.