jacob kiplimo

Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo won the 5000m clocking a time of 12:48:63 at the IAAF Golden Spike 2020 Athletics in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Tuesday.

The men’s 5000 was billed as a potential meet (12:48.81) and maybe even world record (12:35.36) attempt for 20-year-old Selemon Barega of Ethiopia. Barega, the 5th-fastest man in history (12:43.02 pb), lived up to his end of the bargain and went out very aggressively with the two rabbits as the first 1k was covered in under 2:30. When the second rabbit stepped off just before 3k (7:41), it was pretty clear the world record wasn’t going to fall but Barega was still on pace for a good time.

Then suddenly, we had a race. Behind Barega, 19-year-old Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda was running his own race. 3.5 laps into the race, he was more than four seconds behind Barega. But at 3k, the gap hadn’t grown any larger; in fact, it had shrunk to under four seconds. With four laps remaining, Barega’s lead was down to three seconds. Just before 4k (10:18.41), Barega’s lead was gone entirely.

Kiplimo kept the pressure on and with two laps remaining he went to the lead. Barega responded and stayed right behind him until the finishing stretch. Coming off the final turn, Barega moved wide to try to pass Kiplimo and fans got to witness a fantastic finish. Watch a GIF of it here.

Barega pulled almost dead even with Kiplimo but in the end Kiplimo got the win in a massive personal best of 12:48.63, which also was a meet record. We timed his last 1600 in 4:02.0 and his last 200 in 27.3 (last 400 roughly 56.3). Kiplimo ended up second as Italy’s Yemaneberhan Crippa (13:02.26) broke the 30-year old Italian record in third, breaking 1988 Olympic 10,000 silver medallist Salvatore Antibo’s 13:05.5.

Coming into the race, Kiplimo’s personal best was just 13:13.64, but that came when he was just 16 years of age at the 2017 Prefontaine Classic. It’s not like Kiplimo didn’t have significant credentials; he did, just not on the track. He was the silver medallist at World XC last year in Denmark, beating the likes of Geoffrey Kamworor and Barega himself handily (Kamworor was third, 11 seconds behind Kiplimo, and Barega was 5th, 32 seconds behind).

The 19-year-old long-distance runner has elevated his profile high enough with three world records (WR) in nine months to add to last year’s 5000m Diamond League (DL) trophy, the World Cross-country title and the world 10000m gold.

Meanwhile, middle distance runner Winnie Nanyondo finished ninth in the 1500m race.