Nicholas Kimeli on Thursday, June 9 obliterated the meeting record at the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea in Rome, Italy, finishing first in the 5000-metres at a time of 12:46.33, sixth-fastest time ever.
Nicholas Kimeli breaks Eliud Kipchoge's record
This is the first time Kimeli has won a Diamond League competition
Kimeli's win in Rome saw him break the meeting record, previously set by compatriot Eliud Kipchoge in 2004. At the Golden League, the back-to-back Olympic marathon champion finished first at a time of 12:46.53, now the sixth-fastest ever in the event.
Kimeli's powerful performance came as a shock to most athletics fans, as initially, he was not the favourite. Dominated by multiple Gold medallists, Kimeli had been placed quite low on the pecking order.
10,000m Tokyo Olympic champion Ethiopian Selemon Barega had been pipped to win with his compatriot and current world indoor record holder in the mile, Yomif Kejelcha expected to offer the most challenge.
For the most part of the race, everything was going to script for the Ethiopians with Kejelcha leading the race for the most part of the night. However, with 300 offmetres to go, Kimeli together with compatriot Jacob Krop decided to take over the reins from a visibly tired Kejelcha.
With Kejelcha dropped off at 200m, an insane battle ensued between the two Kenyans. Krop was battling to shrug off Kimeli to claim his first global victory, but at 100m, his dream was shattered as Kimeli gracefully bolted past him.
It should be noted that the top eight athletes in the race all finished under 13 minutes, an indicator of how fast the race was. Krop finished at a time of 12:46.79, Kejelcha rounded off the top three at 12:52.10. Barega finished fourth at (12:54.87) with Canadian Mohammed Ahmed finishing fifth at (12:55.84).
Speaking after the race, Kimeli expressed his delight at winning his first-ever Diamond League despite.
“I am feeling great because I had never won a Diamond League race before and I really pushed to make it happen,” said Kimeli.
He concluded by revealing his plans for the rest of the season, specifically mentioning his desire to secure a place in the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon set to take place from July 15-24.
“Last year, I missed an Olympic medal and came fourth. So this year I really focus on our trials and coming home with a medal from the World Championships. This race has shown me that I am in good shape, and it has given me a lot of confidence,” he stated.