By Mitch Phillips
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Briton Mo Farah survived another stumble to get through to the final of the 5,000 meters on Wednesday and remain on course for the prized Olympic distance double-double.
Farah recovered from a fall to win the 10,000 gold four days ago and almost went down again in the last lap of his heat on Wednesday after being clipped by American Hassan Mead, who did fall to miss out on qualification.
Farah is seeking to become the second man after Finland’s Lasse Viren (1972/76) to retain both the 10,000m and 5,000m titles but, said he still felt the effects of the longer race in his legs during Wednesday’s run in 32degree heat.
“It’s hot, I’ve just got to recover – I haven’t recovered (from the 10,000m) as well as I’d wanted,” Farah said.
“I got clipped, I just had to stay on my feet. But now I just have to recover, chill in my room.”
Farah just about retained his balance after his stumble to qualify safely in a heat won by Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet, who is likely to be one of his chief rivals in the final.
Gebrhiwet, 22, missed the 10,000m to concentrate his efforts on the shorter run after taking silver and bronze behind Farah over 5,000 in the last two world championships.
Dejen Gebremeskel, who took silver to Farah’s gold in the London Olympics and also skipped the 10,000 in Rio, is also likely to challenge in the final, and qualified safely from the second heat.
Paul Chelimo, who switched allegiance from Kenya after joining the U.S. Army, was the fastest qualifier, running a personal best 13 minutes, 19.54 seconds, while another Kenyan-turned-American Bernard Lagat, at 41 appearing in his fifth Olympics, also made it.
Lagat won a bronze for Kenya at Sydney in 2000 – three months before Ugandan teenager Jacob Kiplimo was born. The 15-year-old missed out on the final.
(Editing by Jan Harvey)