By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
EUGENE, Oregon (July 22) — The men’s 5000m qualifying round at the World Athletics Championships 2022 here at Hayward Field on Thursday’s (21) Day 7 saw a slow heat followed by a fast one. Only the first five men were guaranteed to advance to the final from each heat, and that made for a wild seven-man sprint in the last 100 meters of heat one.
Ugandan’s Oscar Chelimo and Joshua Cheptegei, Americans Grant Fisher and Abdi Nur, Ethiopian’s Selemon Barega and Telahun Haile Bekele, and Kenya’s Nicholas Kipkorir all came out of the final bend together and finished in a span of just 53/100ths of a second.
Chelimo got the win in 13:24.24, then Fisher (13:24.44), Barega (same time as Fisher), Cheptegei (13:24.47), and Nur (13:24.48), got the five automatic qualifiers. Kipkorir finished sixth in 13:24.56, which was fast enough to get a time qualifier, but Bekele’s seventh place finish in 13:24.77 left him out of Sunday’s final, which was unexpected.
“I am very thankful to the fans for cheering us. I am very happy for this race,” said Chelimo. “I was also in Doha 2019 and I got this experience, also in Tokyo, so I am glad I am in the final.
“I think the final is going to be a tactical one. Everybody is just getting ready for the last lap but if I manage to keep up with the group, I think I will be fine. I want to be the champion of this year.”
Fisher said that he was aware of his position during that intense sprint and made sure he finished in the first five.
“You don’t really want to mess around with the small q’s when you’re in the first heat,” Fisher told reporters. “Kind of bank on no small q’s coming out of the first; just get it done.”
The second heat went much faster, thanks to the early front-running of Guatemala’s Luis Grijalva. Grijalva went through 3000m in 8:05.08 with a several-meter lead, but then Kenya’s Daniel Simiu Ebenyo caught him.
Over the next several laps, a six-man lead group formed: Grijalva, Kenya’s Ebenyo and Jacob Krop, Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha, and Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed.
“5k is always tough,” Ingebrigtsen said. “It is a long distance and high speed but I do not see anyone beating me.”
Ahmed said: “I am not surprised that we ran that quick. If you see those guys with their PBs, it is not a surprise. I took a peak like two laps to go and I was ready for the operation.
“I did not know how fast we were running until the last lap – I was like, Oh Sh..! But I was there, I got it.”
Those six got over the line some six seconds clear of the rest of the field, and all of them advanced. Krop got the win in 13:13.30, Ingebrigtsen was second in 13:13.92, and Grijalva was third in 13:14.04. Both Ingebrigtsen and Grijalva were waving their arms in the homestretch encouraging cheers from the crowd.
“For me it was a really big deal,” said Grijalva whose family brought him to the United States when he was just a baby and he now enjoys protected status under the federal government’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program.
“For me representing Guatemala, which doesn’t have too much representation in athletics and sports all around, was a big privilege. I get to put 14 million people behind my back and for me to make the final is good for Guatemala but also for Central America as a whole. Any time you can be a top-15 finalist in the world is pretty special.”
American Willy Kincaid failed to advance after falling at the top of the backstretch in the third lap of heat two. He got up, ran well for the rest of the race, and finished a respectable 11th in 13:25.02. He said that he was not expecting the race to be so physical.
“Right when it did get physical I went down,” he said.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images for World Athletics