American Paul Chelimo was the surprise of the night in the men’s 5,000m at the Rio Olympics with a silver medal performance. The Kenyan-born 25-year-old had it all come crashing down when he was informed that he had been disqualified on live television.

RELATED: See the full men’s 5,000m recap here.

Fortunately, the United States track and field association appealed the disqualification and he was reinstated. But there was still a 30-minute period where Chelimo thought he had been removed from the race. As Chelimo made his way through the mixed zone, NBC’s Lewis Johnson told Chelimo on camera of the breaking news.

Chelimo was originally disqualified for stepping inside the inner lane of the track. Canadian Mo Ahmed was disqualified for the same reason but too was reinstated and finished fourth overall.

The young American’s was in a state of shock when his peak excitement was brought crashing down.

Full interview

Additional commentary from comedian Leslie Jones

To say he was put on the spot would be an understatement as Johnson then asked Chelimo to explain himself.

“They were blocking me, I was trying to defend myself to go to the outside,” says Chelimo. “I can’t believe it because I was running a fair race. I wasn’t trying to impede anyone. My intention wasn’t to block anyone. That’s what happened.”

Typically, race officials inform runners of a disqualification rather than athletes hearing it from reporters waiting track side. To be fair to the NBC reporter, there were no officials nearby as Chelimo had already left the track.

NBC’s coverage, which can only be seen in the United States, has received criticism for tape-delaying much of its coverage. Tonight’s incident was reported live.

Mo Farah of Great Britain won the race in 13:03.30 followed by Chelimo in a new lifetime best of 13:03.90. Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet was third and Ahmed was fourth. Ahmed, 25, placed higher than any other Canadian in history in the men’s 5,000m at the Olympics.


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