Tokyo Olympics: Nicholas Kimeli to stage lone battle in 5,000m final
ATHLETICS By Bismarck Mutahi in Tokyo, Japan | August 5th 2021
Kenya is yet to win the 5,000m men Olympic gold medal since John Ngugi shocked everyone with some front running from the bell to win gold at the 1988 games in Seoul.
From then on Kenyans have tried to win back the medal with little success and even at the last Olympic Games in 2016 in Rio, there was no Kenyan in the final.
At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics though there is some improvement with one Kenyan having qualified for the Friday final.
Nicholas Kimeli will be hoping that he can shock many by getting on the podium if not even getting the top medal.
Looking at the startlist Kimeli is not among the favourites, but Tokyo Olympics has not been a respecter of names and anybody could be crowned a champion at the end of the race that starts at 9pm (3pm Kenyan time).
Kimeli however says he feels that 2021 could be his year and it does not matter the calibre of opposition he will be facing.
“This could be my year. I don’t know about God’s plan but I believe I could be in for something big here in Tokyo,” Kimeli said after the heats on Tuesday.
He won his heat, in a race that saw Kenya’s Daniel Simiu tripped and he failed to recover to make the finals. The other Kenyan who was in the 5,000m line up Samwel Chebole was ruled out with injury just hours to the heats.
Kimeli expects to face still challenge from close home as Uganda’s world record holder Joshua Cheptegei and his compatriot Edward Kiplimo are favourites to win the gold medal.
Cheptegei lost the 10,000m gold to Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega and he will be out to make amends in the 12-lap race.
Kiplimo who has also been in top form this year especially in 10,000m won bronze but he is also expected to battle hard for the top medal today.
There is also some challenge from Ethiopians and also Europeans led by Spain’s Mohamed Katir.
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