Cheruiyot ran a superb tactical race to outwit 5,000m world champion Ayana in a Games best time of 14.26:17. The Ethiopian looked to be on the way to another dominant victory after surging into a huge lead four laps into the race. Cheruiyot stayed calm despite Ayana’s strong start. She tired in the closing stages and was unable to hold off Cheruiyot’s late burst. Kenyan Hellen Onsando Obiri clocked a personal best of 14:29.77 to take silver, with Ayana finishing on bronze.
Cheruiyot won Kenya's first ever women's gold medal over the distance, cementing her legacy as a long-distance great. From London 2012, she already had a silver medal in the discipline, as well as a bronze in 10,000m. In Rio, she came second in the 10,000m final, where Ayana shaved 14 seconds off the world record in one of the greatest ever long-distance races.
“I'm really grateful today. I'm so happy. This was my fourth Olympics. I've been dreaming about a gold medal, but it has finally come today. I was really happy when I was crossing the line. Ayana was the favourite in the 5000m. But I believe there is no-one who is unbeatable,” said the Olympic champion. “This might be the last Olympics for me.”
It’s Kenya’s first gold in 5,000m since Seoul, where John Ngugi won the men's race.Cheruiyot’s medal also has a special meaning because of the long-distance running rivalry between the two African nations, she said: “I think it's something very nice for us, because most of the time, it goes to Ethiopa in 10,000m and 5,000m. We are so happy it's going back to Kenya. We planned our race today. It worked.”