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Previews10 Jul 2022


WCH Oregon22 preview: 5000m

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Letesenbet Gidey and Joshua Cheptegei (© Getty Images)

Men's 5000m

Timetable | world rankings | 2022 world list | world all-time list | how it works

The men’s 12-and-a-half-lap final has the potential to be the race of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22. The entry list features not one, not two but three gold medal winners from the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the Norwegian winner of the 1500m crown in the Japanese capital, and 10,000m champion Selemon Barega of Ethiopia meet at the common ground of Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei’s Olympic gold medal (and world record) distance of 5000m.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019

Jakob Ingebrigtsen at the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 (© AFP / Getty Images)


The loaded field – make that over-loaded – also includes defending champion Muktar Edris of Ethiopia, Canada’s Olympic silver medallist and world bronze medallist Moh Ahmed and Kenyan duo Nicholas Kimeli and Jacob Krop, the two fastest men in the world this year.

Then there are Edris and Barega’s Ethiopian teammates: Berihu Aregawi, the world 5km record-holder on the roads, and world 10,000m silver medallist Yomif Kejelcha.

The big question is whether the precociously-talented Ingebrigtsen can emulate the 1500m-5000m double he achieved as a 17-year-old at the European Championships in Berlin four years ago.

Only three men have accomplished the feat at global level: the peerless flying Finn Paavo Nurmi at the Paris Olympics in 1924, the Moroccan master of the middle distances Hicham El Guerrouj at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and the brilliant US star Bernard Lagat at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka.

Ingebrigtsen’s ambitious attempt at the last World Championships, in Doha in 2019, resulted in failure on the medal front: fourth place in the 1500m and fifth in the 5000m. At the Tokyo Olympics last year, of course, he concentrated solely on the 1500m, with the spectacular result of a gold medal victory in an Olympic and European record of 3:28.32.

The 21-year-old was beaten by Ethiopian Samuel Tefera in the 1500m final at the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22 in March but that off-colour performance was explained by a positive test for Covid-19 the following day.

Ingebrigtsen has only run one 5000m race in 2022, winning in 13:02.03 in San Juan Capistrano on 6 May but he was the 2021 world leader at the distance, courtesy of the 12:48.45 European record he set in Florence, and has been in scorching form of late.

In the Dream Mile at the Bislett Games on home ground in Oslo on 16 June he set a Wanda Diamond League record of 3:46.46, taking almost a second off his own Norwegian record and moving up to sixth on the world all-time list.

The challenge for his 5000m rivals in Eugene will be to try to somehow drop him through the first four kilometres.

In the Olympic final in Tokyo, Cheptegei held a two-metre lead at the bell and kept clear of the field with a last lap of 55.0. Ahmed came through from fifth to second in the last 200m. The Canadian took bronze behind Edris and Barega in the 2019 world final in Doha.

Cheptegei, who has held the world record at 12:35.36 since 2020 has only raced once outdoors on the track in 2022, winning the promotional 5000m at the Wanda Diamond League Meeting in Eugene on 27 May in 12:57.99.

The 25-year-old Ugandan had no answer to Barega’s formidable turn of speed on the last lap of the Olympic 10,000m final in Tokyo, finishing 0.21 down on the young Ethiopian.

Barega has not been at his sharpest at 5000m on the Wanda Diamond League circuit in 2022, finishing third in Eugene and fourth in Rome but winning in Paris. He did, though, add another global gold medal to his collection at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade, holding off fellow Ethiopian and world and Olympic steeplechase silver medallist Lamecha Girma in the 3000m.

Aregawi eclipsed Cheptegei’s world 5km record with 12:49 in Barcelona on New Year’s Eve and won the Wanda Diamond League 5000m race in Eugene in May in a solo 12:50.05, ahead of Terefa (13:06.86) and Barega (13:07.30). Like Barega, Cheptegei and Ahmed, Aregawi will also be going for gold in the 10,000m.

The Kenyan challenge will be led by Kimeli and Krop, who slugged out a thrilling battle in the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Rome on 9 June. Kimeli surged to seventh on the world all-time list with his 12:46.33 world lead. Krop, sixth in the 2019 world final, finished second in 12:46.79, a time that put him joint ninth on the all-time list.

 

Women's 5000m

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It looks certain that there will be a vacancy for a fresh name in the women’s 5000m roll of honour at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.

Kenya’s Hellen Obiri, the winner in London in 2017 and in Doha two years later, is conspicuously absent from the final entry list for the 12-and-a-half-lap event. Barring a late change of heart, it would seem that the 32-year-old has chosen to focus her attention on a shot at the 10,000m title in Eugene rather than attempt to complete what would be a historic hat-trick of 5000m golds.

With 2015 winner Almaz Ayana also absent from the Ethiopian entry for the event, a new champion is set to be crowned at Hayward Field.

Such is the strength of the Ethiopian team, world indoor 1500m champion Gudaf Tsegay is only a reserve at this distance. She was third behind Sifan Hassan and Obiri in the 5000m final at the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year.

Much, of course, will depend on whether Hassan decides to contest the 5000m, which she bypassed in favour of a successful 1500m-10,000m double at the last World Championships in Doha in 2019.

Taking her time to recover from the draining physical and mental effects of the triple assault that earned her Olympic gold at 5000m and 10,000m plus bronze at 1500m, the Dutchwoman returned to action for the first time since the 2021 Wanda Diamond League Final in Zurich last September with a comfortable 15:13.41 victory over 5000m at the Stumptown Twilight meeting in Portland on 8 July.

“We do not yet know what distance or distances Sifan will end up running,” Hassan’s coach Tim Rowberry told the Dutch broadcaster NOS. “Everything stands or falls with the results of the last training sessions. Sifan and I will probably only decide at the very last moment."

If Hassan does decide to run in the 5000m, she will have a trio of more than capable Ethiopian challengers with whom to contend.

Ejgayehu Taye stands on top of the 2022 world list, and fifth on the world all-time list, courtesy of the 14:12.98 she clocked as a mightily impressive winner at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Eugene on 28 May.

The 22-year-old powered away from world record-holder Letesenbet Gidey over the final two laps to also claim the Hayward Field stadium record. Fifth in the Olympic 5000m final in Tokyo last year, Taye has only contested one other outdoor race in 2022, finishing third behind Briton Eilish McColgan and fellow Ethiopian Gidey on her 10,000m debut in Hengelo on 6 June.

In March she took the 3000m bronze medal behind compatriot Lemlem Hailu and Elle St Pierre of the US at the World Indoor Championships in Belgrade and on New Year’s Eve last year she set a world 5km record of 14:19 on the roads in Barcelona.

Gidey has yet to get into a winning stride yet in 2022, finishing a distant runner-up to Taye in the Eugene 5000m and third in the 5000m at the Wanda Diamond League meeting is Oslo behind fellow Ethiopians Dawit Seyaum and Gudaf Tsegay. She is, however, the world record-holder at this distance – and at 10,000m.

Seyaum looked impressive in the Norwegian capital, kicking clear down the home straight to win in 14:25.84 with Tsegay second in 14:26.69 and Gidey third in 14:26.92. She also won over 5000m at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Birmingham in May.

It was at Hayward Field that Seyaum won the 1500m at the World U20 Championships back in 2014 and she has the speed of a former middle-distance specialist who took world indoor silver at 1500m in 2016.

Beatrice Chebet wins the women's 5000m at the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018

Beatrice Chebet wins the women's 5000m from Ejgayehu Taye at the World U20 Championships Tampere 2018 (© Getty Images)


Without Obiri, the Kenyan challenge will feature Margaret Kipkemboi – the teammate who claimed silver behind her In Doha three years ago – and world U20 cross country champion Beatrice Chebet, who won the world U20 title at 5000m ahead of Taye in Tampere in 2018.

The European challenge is likely to be led by Norway’s Karoline Grovdal, who finished fourth in the Wanda Diamond League race in Oslo in a national record of 14:31.07. The 32-year-old is a double European Championships medallist, having placed third in the 10,000m in Amsterdam in 2016 and in the 3000m steeplechase in Berlin in 2018.

Simon Turnbull for World Athletics