A gold medal in hand is worth a lot to Jakob Ingebrigtsen who secured a fitting end to his World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 campaign with a successive defence of his 5000m title on the final day of competition.
The 22-year-old was left heartbroken after the 1500m, in which he was beaten by Great Britian’s Josh Kerr. But the Norwegian picked himself up to advance through his 5000m heat – his first race of the year at that distance – and book his place in the final.
With four of the eight fastest men in history as part of the line-up – six of whom had broken 12:45 this year – it was an open and highly competitive field.
But Ingebrigtsen’s race plan was simple: conserve his energy until the final lap and then make a dash for the finish line.
When the gun went off, Canada’s Olympic silver medallist Mohammed Ahmed took the lead, setting the pace on the first two laps while the defending champion started out in the middle of the pack.
World U20 cross-country champion Ishmael Kipkurui soon grew impatient with the pace and sped past his rivals, quickly opening up 40-metre lead, which he maintained for the next few laps.
Uganda’s Oscar Chelimo, the bronze medallist last year, made his way to the front of the chase pack, trying to bridge the gap to the young Kenyan. Ingebrigtsen, meanwhile, was near the back, showing no interest in making a move.
World leader Berihu Aregawi and his fellow Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet, a two-time world medallist, took over at the lead, while the third Ethiopian in the line-up, two-time world indoor champion Yomif Kejelch, also moved towards the front. Guatemala’s Luis Grijalva also tried to tuck himself into the race, but the Ethiopians were reluctant to let him play much of a part.
With about one lap to go, European record-holder Mohamed Katir overtook the Ethiopians, who were unable to respond to the Spaniard’s speed. Ingebrigtsen also launched out, moving on to Katir’s shoulder as the bell sounded.
The pair tore away from the rest of the field with the Spaniard leading, but the determined Norwegian out-kicked him just before the line to claim back-to-back golds in the event, crossing the line in a season’s best of 13:11.30.
It was also an evening of redemption to for Katir, who failed to qualify for the 1500m final earlier in the championships, having earned bronze at the distance in Oregon. He was glad to make amends in the 5000m, crossing the line in 13:11.44 for silver.
Kenya’s Jacob Krop, the silver medallist in Oregon, came through for bronze in 13:12.28 ahead of Grijalva who settled for fourth (13:12.50) for the second successive championships. Ethiopia’s Kejelcha (13:12.51) and Gebrhiwet (13:12.65) placed fifth and sixth respectively, and Aregawi eighth, his third World Championships final without a medal.
“To win another world title is great of course, but I was very tired,” said Ingebrigtsen. “I tried to save my energy to win at the end because that was the only way tonight. I knew that if my tactics were better than my competitors, I would have a chance to win. And that’s what happened. It worked out absolutely perfectly. It was a very hard run, especially in the last 40-50 metres. It was great racing.
“This title means a lot to me after losing again in the 1500m. I haven’t been at my best but I had the motivation and I had great support.
“My body is just getting over a virus so it’s not been a very good situation to be in. At the same time, I wanted to do my best, I had to try. I had to be very patient but I really did not know what to expect from this race. This week was a bit bittersweet overall, but this is a good way to end.”
Katir was frustrated to miss out on gold but still content with silver, earning Spain’s only in-stadium medal of the championships.
“I gave it all that I had today,” he said. “But Jakob is Jakob – he is the best in the world nowadays. In the 1500m I could not get him, but in the 5000m I was really close to beating him. Every year, I am getting closer and closer.
Krop was delighted to make it on to another global podium.
“I am still only 22 so to get two medals from the World Championships is a big honour,” he said. “I don’t think this bronze after the silver in Eugene is a step down; I am still among the top runners over 5000m.”
|MEN’S 5000m MEDALLISTS
|Jakob Ingebrigtsen 🇳🇴 NOR
|Mohamed Katir 🇪🇸 ESP
|Jacob Krop 🇰🇪 KEN
Credit: World Athletics