Imane Merga wins an extremely close 5000m from Micah Kogo and Edwin Soi (Getty Images) © Copyright

Event REPORT - 5000m - MEN

The closest finish so far at the IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final did not come in any sprint event. Instead it happened at the longest event on the programme in Thessaloniki: the 5000m. In a photo finish the first three were only seperated by one hundredth of a second! Ethiopia’s Imane Merga appeared to be the winner in 13:29.75 minutes, while Kenyans Micah Kogo and Edwin Soi followed in second and third, both given a time of 13:29.76.

Twelve men started the race, but apart from two Ethiopians all came from Kenya. Remarkably while Merga snatched victory for his country his fellow-countryman Ali Abdosh finished last. In between it was all Kenya.

The race could more or less be described as a warm-up for the final lap or may be even for the final 100 metres. The pace was so slow at the start that you might fear that it would produce a delay on the timetable – though there was a 25 minute gap to the next track event! It got faster then after the first round, but not much. 5:44.20 minutes was the split time for the 2000m mark.  

In the final part of the race Micah Kogo was leading and he tried to do it the same way as Kenenisa Bekele did it on the day before in the 3000m. During the last lap he responded whenever there was an attack from behind. But it did not work quite as well as for Bekele. On the homestraight he fought with Imane Merga, who was running next to him on the inside lane. On the outside meanwhile Edwin Soi, who had won this event during the past two years, came through strongly and seemed to win it. But the Kenyan celebrated too early. His hand crossed the line first, but that was not enough. “I am disappointed, I made a mistake,” Soi said, while the winners gave identical comments: “What a race.”

Jörg Wenig for the IAAF