The Rio Olympic Games athletics started with the greatest women’s 10,000m ever seen. Experienced commentators and journalists were left struggling for words to describe the sublime brilliance of Almaz Ayana (Ethiopia) who smashed the world record yesterday (12 August) in the first ever morning track final at a modern Olympic Games.
The superbly consistent Jo Pavey (Exeter Harriers), pictured arriving in Rio, ran one second faster than her fifth place time in the recent European Championships to head the British contingent in 15th place (31:33.44). This was Pavey’s best since she was seventh in London 2012 and Britain’s favourite running mother-of-two prepared meticulously for her latest challenge by staying on British time so the morning start felt like a more natural mid-afternoon race.
Jess Andrews (Aldershot, Farnham and District, 31:35.92) continued her debut international season with another personal best in only her fourth 10,000m to finish one place behind Pavey and Beth Potter (Shaftesbury Barnet, 33:04.33) was 34th from the original 37 starters in this amazing race.
The opening laps in 74 and 72 seconds gave no hint of what was to unfold but Alice Nawowuna (Kenya) injected some real pace to reach 5k in 14:47. Yet this was merely the entrée to the main course as Almaz Ayana tore through the second half in an astonishing 14:30 for 29:17.45 to remove the controversial Chinese athlete Wang Junxia (29:31.78 at Beijing, 1993) from the record books.
Mo Farah (Newham and Essex Beagles), Ross Millington (Stockport Harriers) and Andy Vernon (Aldershot, Farnham and District) certainly have something to live up to when they compete in the men’s 10,000m final at 01:25 BST on Saturday night (13th August).
More information on British Athletics official website.