TOKYO, Japan – A new Olympic men’s 10,000m champion will be crowned at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after two-time gold medalist Mo Farah failed to qualify for the Games. The British legend won the Olympic title at London 2012 and defended it four years later at the Rio 2016 Games, but he will not be at the starting line this time.
The highly anticipated start to the track and field schedule gets underway at Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium on Friday (30) local time and the men’s 10,000m is the solitary final on the first day.
NOTE: Men’s 10,000m final will go off at 7:30 a.m. ET on Friday morning. Click here for the Startlist
With Farah out of the field, world-leader Jacob Kiplimo and his Ugandan teammate and world record holder Joshua Cheptegei will start as the men to beat in the event. They are both attempting the 5000m and 10,000m double in Tokyo and would love to get the perfect start to accomplish that milestone.
Kiplimo enters the final with the fastest time in the world this season with a personal best of 26:33.93 in Ostrava on May 19, which is almost 16-seconds faster than the closest entries. His world-leading time is the second-fastest time at the distance since 2008 and ranked No. 7 on the overall all-time list.
The half marathon world champion, now 20, will compete in his second Olympics after finishing down the track in his 5,000m heat at Rio 2016 where he competed as the youngest ever Olympian from Uganda.
How fast will Cheptegei go in Tokyo?
Tokyo 2020 will also be the second Olympic appearance for Cheptegei, after the 24-year-old finished sixth in the 10,000m and ran home eighth in the 5000m at Rio 2016.
Since then, he’s rebounded to win the 10,000m silver medal at the 2017 World Championships in London and won the world title at the 2019 championships in Doha.
Building on that success, Cheptegei then went on to elevate his status in the sport after breaking the 5000m and 10,000m world records in a sensational 2020 campaign.
But how fast will Cheptegei go in Tokyo?
At this point in time, no one knows. The Ugandan hasn’t raced in the discipline this year, with his three appearances this year heading into the Olympics coming in the 1500m, 3000m, and 5000m. Two of those performances were personal bests.
Will the Ethiopian spoil the Uganda party?
The bulk of the challenge should come from the Ethiopians.
Selemon Barega, the second-fastest in the world this season with 26:49.51 and the world 5000m silver medalist, Yomif Kejelcha, third fastest on the top list at 26:49.73, and the world silver medalist over 10,000m, as well as Berihu Aregawi who has also gone under 27-minutes this season in the event, will hope to design the ideal strategy to break up the gold medal favorites.
The Kenyan medal contenders are Rodgers Kwemoi, who finished fourth in Doha, and Weldon Kipkirui Langat.
Marc Scott leads the British hope, while the USA entrants are Woody Kincaid, Grant Fisher, and Joe Klecker.