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Ethiopia’s Ayana smashes world record to win 10,000m gold in Rio

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Ethiopian Almaz Ayana smashed one of the longest-held records in athletics here Friday to win the 10,000m as the Olympic track and field competition got off to an electrifying start.

Ayana, 24, pulled away from the leading pack midway through the 25-lap race at the Olympic stadium and never let up to claim a superb victory in 29min 17.45sec.

Her winning time sliced nearly 14 seconds off the previous world best of 29:31.78 set by Wang Junxia in Beijing in 1993, during the era of notorious Chinese coach Ma Junren.

Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya took silver in a new national record of 29:32.53 while defending champion Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia won bronze in a personal best 29:42.56.

Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana celebrates as she crosses the finish line to win the women's 10,000m during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana celebrates as she crosses the finish line to win the women's 10,000m during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (AFP Photo/Olivier Morin)
Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana celebrates as she crosses the finish line to win the women’s 10,000m during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro
Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana celebrates as she crosses the finish line to win the women’s 10,000m during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (AFP Photo/Olivier Morin)

Dibaba, the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champion, had been bidding to become the first woman in history to win three consecutive golds in an individual athletics event.

But instead it was the 31-year-old’s younger compatriot who stole the show with a magnificent performance.

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Kenya’s Alice Aprot had been the early front-runner, quickly leading a group eight runners that broke away from a giant 37-strong field.

But with 12 laps to go Ayana hit the front, accelerating clear to stretch the leading pack.

Cheruiyot went with Ayana but was always struggling to stay in touch, and the closing laps quickly became a race against the clock and a question of whether Ayana could beat Wang’s long-standing world best.

With the stadium roaring her home, Ayana scorched home with a 68sec final lap to claim a remarkable victory.

Ayana’s victory comes after a troubled year for Ethiopian distance running after the International Association of Athletics Federations in March placed the country in “critical care” with four other nations over failures in their anti-doping regimes.

Two Ethiopian runners also failed dope tests, with Tokyo Marathon winner Endeshaw Negesse testing positive for meldonium.

5 Comments

  1. Dear Editors!!!

    Did I say something that you did not like and I am in a dog house with you now? Grief!!!!!

  2. Thank you Almaz, for making my day one of the best ones!!! I did not see the whole competition alive but saw the clip. That is called total annihilation!! You totally destroyed the field, kid. Folks!!! She made me ‘arrogantly’ proud!!! You can see the pride gushing and over flowing all over me. And there is nothing you can do about it. I want you all to celebrate (This is an order!!!) this unheard of feat by this gallant young woman. Yes you heard me right. I said ‘unheard of’. That is right!!! I still have the goose bump from this morning. She was just jetting and floating in grace like a gazelle lapping almost everyone of them!!! I am telling you she made me drift into a trance, man, watching her running the last 200 yards!!! What graceful stride!!! Yeeeehaaaaaw!!!!!

    Yes this is the one moment that we should sit back and savor. The way she threw her galloping legs forward, the way she slings her drop dead gracious physique, where else can you find it? Only from that glorious country we still hold dear to our hearts!!! I was hypnotized, man!! Have you also heard some of the comments by some old timers and jealous has-beens about Almaz’s outstanding performance? The Radcliffe’s in all? Paula is telling us that she doesn’t believe it until Almaz’s explains as to what happened and how she did it. Someone please hold me back on that one!!! Paula, Almaz has already explained by shaving off more than 12 minutes from the previous world record. That is all the A-Z about it. Her late ‘uncle’ Obbo Abebe had done it already in 1960 and again in 1964. Obbos Kenenisa, Haile, The Steelman Mamo, the memorable Yifter The Shifter, The Dignified Derertu, Fatuma, the diminutive but more potent than The Carolina Reaper Pepper Meseret on and on and on!!! Almaz just told the rest of the field that they are damn too slow sloths. And she was off to the ‘promised land’ just like somebody let loose a mean Doberman on her. No, no, no that was her, a furious cheetah bolting like a rushing Midwest tornado lapping almost everyone else. She told everyone ‘walking’ there ‘This is my house’!!! Assume that was your luckiest day, Paula. She could have lapped you not once but may be three times. You don’t know this but you see she was possessed by the same raging spirit that had driven her Barentu great grandfathers and their Amhara and Tigrayan friends one hundred twenty years ago and pulled something ‘unexpected, astonishing, shocking’ feat. She was in the same zone!!! And next watch our precious Genzebe and more. You just sit back watch, Paula!!! Almaz and her friends have just started warming up!!!!
    Folks, I told you not to start with me!!!!!

    N.B. I was watching Diro the other morning and I was left heart broken. I noticed that there was something that was bothering her even at the outset. She was pulling out the edges of and trying to loosen her shorts many times. She was poised to destroy the field. And all of a sudden to my agony, she was down. But she was up , threw away her nagging shoe and socks and went back to running on one barefoot. And do you know who was cheering her? The late Obbo Abebe Bikila!!!! But now I am totally relieved to hear that the Olympic committee has given her the permission to compete in the final. Now I am like a kid in a candy store, man!!!!

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