The rivalry between Kenya and Ethiopia is not getting stiffer at these Games.
Just two days after Tiki Gelana denied Kenyan women the marathon gold medal, and less than a week after Tirunesh Dibaba sprinted away with the 10,000m gold, the Ethiopians have again set up another battle, this time for the 5,000m title.
Dibaba led Meseret Defar in one-two finish in the first heat of the race with Viola Kibiwott finishing third.
Favourite Vivian Cheruiyot was second to Gelete Burka in the second heat with Sally Kipyego third. Tuesday’s result inside the Olympic Stadium, set up another mouth-watering, if scintillating, Ethio-Kenyan battle for supremacy on Friday. Ethiopians already have an edge over their East African neighbours, but it would be presumptuous to assume the Kenyans have surrendered.
Kibowott timed 14:59.31 behind Dibaba’s 14:58.48 and Defar’s 14:58.70.
Cheruiyot’s time was 15:01.54 ahead of compatriot Kipyego’s 15:01.87. Burka won the race in 15:01.44.
“The girls are in fine shape. They ran very conservatively knowing the task ahead,” said head coach Julius Kirwa, who denied that the Ethiopians may now be enjoying a psychological advantage over Kenyans.
“This is Cheruiyot’s best race and whoever thinks she may lose will be day dreaming,” said Kirwa.
in today’s programme, Kenya’s sole qualifier for the 1,500m semi-finals Hellen Onsando Obiri will battle in the second race due to start at 10pm.
Obiri, who is the World Indoor 3,000m champion, has a mountain to climb given the stellar caste in this race, which boasts of some of the best known figures like Ethiopia’s Abeba Aregawi, Bahrain’s Yusuf Jamal Maryam, Russia’s Tatyana Tomashova, and others.
Nancy Jebet Lagat won gold for Kenya in beijing four years ago, but a knee injury has kept her out of the team. But in her absence, understudy Obiri has emerged to stake claim to the crown and London will confirm her status.