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She Slay: Almaz Ayana Deliver’s Africa’s first Gold in Record-Shattering Time

Yesterday, Almaz Ayana shocked the world when she shattered the 10,000 meters World record by 14 seconds to set a new one at 29:17:45. A feat so remarkable given that in 23 years, no one had come within 22 seconds of the previous world record by the Chinese runner, Wang Junxia who is a subject of numerous doping allegations.

Making it even more extraordinary, according to BBC Sport, it was just Almaz second time ever on the track. And yet, coming into this event, she had to go against the proven titans of women’s long distance running. Among them, her country mate, the 31-year-old Tirunesh Dibaba who was looking to become the first female in athletics history to win three gold medals in the same individual event. Second, she competed against a four-time world champion from Kenya, Vivian Cheruiyot.

Despite the fierce competition, Ayana made the race look easy as she broke away running a seemingly empty track at the forefront and lapped opponents en route to her first Olympic gold.

Even her competition was amazed at what had just happened. As per the Independent, the British runner Jo Pavey called it “the craziest race” she has ever been in.

“I never thought the Chinese record would go,” she said. “You don’t think of them as records really. So you don’t expect them to go. ”

“I don’t know. She seemed like she was ill before the race, coughing and stuff. Obviously, it didn’t matter to her. I didn’t think that someone would go from the gun. I thought someone would push it from early on but not to produce a time like that. It is unbelievable. I don’t know whether to be pleased or not, to have been in that race.”

Unfortunately, some questioned Ayana’s win in connection to doping. According to Sarah Germano of the Wall Street Journal, when asked, Ayana responded, [perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”My doping is my training and my doping is Jesus. Nothing otherwise, I am crystal clear.”[/perfectpullquote]

In retrospect, Ayana’s road to gold has been spotty. According to reports, she suffered a knee injury in late 2015 and didn’t return until May this year.  “After Zurich, I felt overload,” she said. “My left knee didn’t stop hurting me and spoiled my whole preparation plan towards the 2016 season.”

Her comeback is truly the stuff of legend that only the Olympics can offer.

Meanwhile, Ayana was not the only runner who made history. Her main competition logged in sensational performances as well. Kenya’s Cheruiyot came in 2nd, and Ethiopia’s Dibaba finished 3rd recording personal bests of 29:32.53 and 29:42:56 respectively.

Still, Cheruiyot was “happy” but remains determined for gold in the future.  She said,  “One day, one time, I know that I’m going to be an Olympic champion.” Likewise, Dibaba was satisfied. “I did something that no one ever has done before, and I’m very proud of that,” she said.



Featured Photo: Courtesy of REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

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  1. Pingback: 13 East African Women who are owning it!

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