Canada’s Mo Ahmed closed with amazing speed through the final bend and down the stretch to claim Olympic silver on Friday in the men’s 5,000 metres, a race dominated so long by Kenyans, Ethiopians and Great Britain’s Mo Farah, who won the previous two golds at the Games.
Ahmed — a 30-year-old who was born in Somalia, grew up in St. Catharines, Ont. and has trained for years in Oregon — cruised past Nicholas Kimeli of Kenya and reeled in Paul Chelimo, a Kenyan-born runner who moved to the United States.
Ahmed crossed the line in Tokyo’s National Stadium in 12:58.61. And if this was a 5,100-metre race, he might have wound up with the gold.
But he couldn’t quite catch Joshua Cheptegei, the Ugandan and world record holder in the distance who went to the lead laps earlier and still had enough gas in the tank to grab the gold medal in 12:58.15.
“I did not think this race was going to be fast. I thought they were just going to let it go. But Joshua came to play tonight. The real Joshua, that’s when he runs the best when he’s up front, when he dictates the pace,” Ahmed said following his run.
Following his 5,000m run, he said he “went through a lot of emotions” after his 10,000m race and he’d thought he’d had a chance to be on the podium in that earlier event.
“With 200m to go I thought if I fought a little bit harder and found some strength I could have got in a medal there, too. It’s just the way that it goes,” Ahmed said after the race. “I just did what I had to do to try and pick myself up. Coaching staff, medical time, everyone did what they had to do to get me ready.”