World Athletics Championships: Hellen Obiri fends off Almaz Ayana for 5,000m gold

Obiri and Ayana contested a thrilling duel in London, though the Kenyan produced an incredibly strong final 300m to beat the Ethiopian. Sifan Hassan took bronze.

World Athletics Championships: Hellen Obiri fends off Almaz Ayana for 5,000m gold
Obiri celebrates her successful defense of the 5,000m world title (Getty/Shaun Botterill)

Hellen Obiri produced a sensational 60-second last lap to fend off Almaz Ayana and take gold in the Women’s 5,000-meters at the World Athletics Championships on the final night of competition.

The Kenyan was the Olympic silver medalist, and after finishing second to countrywoman Vivian Cheruiyot at the Olympic Games last year she put herself firmly near at the top spot, storming past Ayana on the final lap to take the gold medal in a time of 14:34.86. Ayana, who was looking to complete the long distance double after taking gold in the 10,000-meters, took the silver medal in a time of 14:40.35, whilst Sifan Hassan produced a strong finish to take the bronze medal in a time of 14:42.73.

Obiri celebrates her triumph (Getty/Shaun Botterill)
Obiri celebrates her triumph (Getty/Shaun Botterill)

Senbere Teferi narrowly missed out on a medal, finishing in fourth place, with Margaret Kipkemboi in fifth and Laura Muir in sixth place. Shannon Rowbury was the highest American finisher in ninth place, with Molly Huddle in 12th and Shelby Houlihan in 13th place. In total, 14 of the 15 women who started the final finished the race, with only Karoline Grovdal not completing the race.

Obiri proves too good for 10,000m champion to take gold

There was no doubt that the favorites heading into the final were Obiri and Ayana, and that proved to be the case as the race largely became a duel between the two; it was Obiri who eventually found something extra on the final lap to take gold.

Unsurprisingly, the opening stages of the race were fairly slow, with the likes of Ayana and Hassan sitting towards the front of the field. The Dutchwoman, however, moved towards the back after a few laps and it was four laps in that Ayana and Obiri began to pick up the pace and stretch the field out. The two favorites shortly after broke away from the rest of the field, with Teferi sitting about ten meters behind them in third place. Teferi was now leading a second group, which featured the likes of Hassan and Gidey.

Obiri and Ayana were well in front for the majority of the race (Getty/Richard Heathcote)
Obiri and Ayana were well in front for the majority of the race (Getty/Richard Heathcote)

The second 1000-meters had been 30 seconds quicker than the opening fifth of the race, and it was now clear less than halfway in that it was a battle for gold between Obiri and Ayana, with the back of the field catching up with the second group to keep the battle for the bronze wide open. With four laps to go, it was Hassan who was starting to break up the larger group, with the two favorites around 100m ahead and comfortably in charge of the race.

Hassan, Kipkemboi, and Shelly Chepkirui had broken off to battle for third place, though as it came into the final lap Obiri took off with around 300m to go and stormed round the final stages of the race to take the title. Ayana was forced to settle for silver, with Hassan producing a strong finish to secure the bronze medal ahead of the fast-finishing Teferi, who had overtaken both Kenyans in the final 200m.


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