Kenya’s dream of winning a first Olympic medal since 1968 in the men’s 10,000 metres went up in smoke after Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega won gold in a tensed final.
The country’s Olympic drought in the 25 lap race will stretch to 57 years after three Kenyan runners fared badly in the final.
Rodgers Kwemo was first Kenyan, but he could only manage a seventh-place finish, almost 10 seconds behind winner-Barega who clocked 27: 43. 22.
The 21 year-old Ethiopian defeated world champion and world record holder Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda who took silver in a time of (27:43.63) with compatriot Jacob Kiplimo who bagged bronze in a time of 27:43.88.
Kwemoi timed 27:50.06 while Rhonex Kipruto who replaced the injured Geoffrey Kamworor came a distant ninth in a time of 27.52.78.
The other Kenyan, Weldon Langat finished position 20.
Ethiopia’s Berihu Aregawi was fourth and American Grant Fisher took fifth ahead of Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed in sixth, with race favourite and the third member of Ethiopia’s contingent Yomif Kejelcha down in eighth.
Barega’s victory means that the 10,000 metres Olympic gold will return to Eastern Africa for the first time in 13 years.
The Ethiopian delegation at the Olympic stadium applauded him as he smiled broadly and ran a victory lap with his country's flag draped around his shoulders.
Kenenisa Bekele was the last Eastern African to have won the distance’s Olympic gold way back in 2008 in Beijing.
British Mo Farah then dominated the last two editions-in London and Rio.