Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega wins Olympic gold in 10,000-metre race

Gold medalist Selemon Barega of Team Ethiopia celebrates as he crosses the finish line ahead of silver medalist Joshua Cheptegei of Team Uganda and bronze medalist Jacob Kiplimo of Team Uganda in the Men's 10,000 metres Final on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Olympic athletics programme opened with a huge surprise on Friday as Ethiopian youngster Selemon Barega claimed a stunning 10,000 metres gold.

There was only one gold up for grabs, in the last event of the opening day, but it was worth the wait as Ugandan world record holder Joshua Cheptegei allowed the 21-year-old Barega to escape and win in 27 minutes 43.22 seconds before celebrating with an infield dance on a sultry night.

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Hot favourite Cheptegei left it way too late to chase him down and only just caught 20-year-old compatriot Jacob Kiplimo on the line to take silver.

As the rest of the field crossed the line, athletes crashed to the track, utterly exhausted by the 30 degree heat and heavy humidity, which looks set to be a defining and challenging aspect of the track and field programme.

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Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed came in sixth place. While he was in the top pack going into final laps, he was unable to hold the pace and dropped back as other runners sprinted to the finish.

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