By Omulo Okoth
Edwin Soi, Isaiah Kiplangat and Thomas Longosiwa begin the campaign for the 5,000m race title on Wednesday.
Soi’s bronze medal in Beijing four years ago puts him in pole position, if experience is anything to count on, for what already looks a fairly big task here.
Eliud Kipchoge, who won silver behind Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele in 2008, did not make the team this time. It would be expecting too much from Kiplangat and Longosiwa, fairly talented but young and inexperienced runners, to put up a strong fight against the Team UK’s juggernaut led by Mo Farah.
Soi and Kiplangat are drawn in the first heat with Farah, Uganda’s Geoffrey Kusuro, Morocco’s Aziz Lahbabi, Eritrea’s Teklemariam Medhin and Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet, among others.
Longosiwa is in the second heat, which will also feature Ethiopia’s Yenew Alamirew, Morocco’s Abdalaati Iguider, Algeria’s Rabah Aboud, Galen Rupp from USA, Craig Motram of Australia, Abraham Kiplimo and Moses Ndiema Kipsiro of Uganda, among others.
The race will start at 12.45pm.
Almost two hours later, focus will turn on the women’s 800m first round in which Kenya’s Olympic champion Pamela Jelimo is drawn in the fourth heat against a fairly easy opposition.
Cherono Koech, a late inclusion in Kenya team, will run in the fifth heat while Janeth Jepkosgei will be in the sixth heat with Russia’s Ekaterina Poistogova and others. There will be six heats in total for this race.
Elsewhere, adds AP, Usain Bolt opened defence of his 200-meter title with a stress-free first-round heat of 20.39 seconds, a race in which he powered to the lead early, then eased up to a jog over the final 80 meters.
“I was taking it as easy as possible. It’s my first (200) run. I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” said Bolt, who runs in the semifinals Wednesday as he tries to become the only man with two Olympic titles in the 200. The final is Thursday.
The first round was a predictably nonchalant moment for The World’s Fastest Man, though it held more significance for Isiah Young of the United States, the runner who lined up next to him in the day’s first heat.