The final day of the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London saw a great battle between two of the world’s greatest-ever distance runners: Almaz Ayana and Hellen Obiri.
In the end, Obiri outran Ayana – one of the most feared distance runers in the running scene today. The Kenyan took the gold medal with a time of 14:34.86. Ayana (Ethiopia) earned herself the silver with her time of 14:40.35. The third podium spot went to Sifan Hassan (Netherlands) with her 14:42.73 finish. The top two runners led the race running together with Ayana out front going hard to grab another gold medal to take home from London. For much of the race, many spectators would have assumed that the gold medal was going to be hers.
She wasn’t able to keep her lead though. In a dramatic last segment of the race, Obiri took her in the final lap dashing to the front in her final surge where she opened up a sizeable gap between herself and the Ethiopian. Obiri got herself into a position to easily take the gold with Ayana coming across the finish line about six seconds later.
Obiri took to the start line in the stadium of London today with a 14:18.37 PB to her name. A year ago, she also placed second in the event at the Rio Olympics to be Ayana who placed third.
Going into the women’s 5,000m final, many were rooting for Ayana. The Ethiopian athlete is a household name in track as she is the fastest female 10,000m runner in the world – she broke the world record last year in Rio by a long shot when she ran 29:17.45 leading from start to finish. (Few women ever crack the 30-minute barrier in the distance). At the beginning of this year’s World Championships, she dominated the field in that event again running through the finish line in 30:16.32 to add another gold medal to her collection.
But she would have wanted to go home with a pair of shiny gold medals. Obiri prevented her from doing that. It’s worth noting that both athletes are capable of running speedier times than what they did in today’s race. In fact, in the women’s 10,000m race in London during this World Championships, Ayana’s 5K splits were 15:52 and 14:25, so she ran the second half of her first race faster than today’s run that earned her the silver medal.
Prior to the World Championships this month, Ayana had not raced since Rio. No Canadians were featured in today’s 5,000m final.