Meseret Defar from Ethiopia produced the fastest turn of speed in the last 200 metres of the women’s 5,000 metre to claim her second Olympic gold medal in the event.
“I’m very happy. It’s a great day for me. Since 2008 I have tried everything as I wasn’t able to win the Olympics,” she said, following celebrations in which she cried after crossing the finish line in emotional scenes.
“I have been hoping for this day for a long time,” she explained. “I have won two Olympic medals before, this is my third. I’m not sure I can do a fourth, so this means a lot to me.”
Dibaba had gone into the race as double gold medal winner at 5,000 and 10,000 metres in Beijing and in good form after winning the 10,000 metres final just a week previously.
She said she had no complaints about failing to complete an Olympic double, although she commented she had not been fully fit.
“First of all I am happy that the gold medal stayed in the hands of Ethiopia. And I would like to say congratulations to Meseret Defar for winning the gold medal,” said Dibaba.
“Before I came to London for the Olympic Games, I didn’t train for nine days because of injuries. I was taking medicines and painkillers. To win a gold medal (in the 10,000 metres) and bronze is a great achievement for an injured athlete.”
“I am extremely happy with my three Olympic gold medals and two bronze medals. I am happy to join the legends in Ethiopian athletics. I was aiming for a double here but it didn’t happen. Whatever happened, I am happy. I thank God for that,” said Dibaba.
Cheruiyot, 10,000 metre bronze medalist and reigning world champion, had looked certain to challenge along fellow Kenyans, Viola Kibiwot and Sally Kipyego.
Britain’s Jo Pavey set the early pace, confident after a season’s best in qualifying, while the African runners were content to sit in the pack as the pace was around 75 seconds per lap, although the pace dropped in the second km.
Meanwhile, the Kenyans ran as a bunch, unwilling to take the initiative until Dibaba decided it was time to wind the pace up with four and a half laps remaining.
That acceleration sparked a reaction as the Kenyans moved forward and the line of runners began to spread out after a 68 second lap with Dibaba and Defar setting the pace.
Entering the last lap, it was clear the medals were going to be decided between the African runners and Defar had the speed on the final straight while Debaba ran out of gas and was overtaken by Cheruiyot in the closing metres, much to Cheruiyot’s delight.
“I haven’t won any medal in the last two Olympic Games I have participated in. To win silver and bronze is a great achievement for me. There are a lot of people who came here and returned back home empty-handed, so I am happy.”
Meanwhile, Kipyego finished fourth, Gelete Burka fifth and Kibiwot sixth to highlight the dominance of the Ethiopians and Kenyans in the race.