Alistair Cragg was left struggling over the final laps of his men’s Olympic 5,000 metres qualifying round today – finishing in 17th place in 13:47.01- a long way short of his best.
Cragg was running in the second of two qualifying rounds won by Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia in a blanket finish in a very brisk 13:15.15. The first eight finishers were all under 13.20- in comparison to the first round where Hayle Ibrahimov (AZE) led the way home in 13:25.23. Olympic 10,000 metred Gold Medalist Mo Farah finished third in 13:26.00.
Australian runner Craig Mortram set the fast early pace in Cragg’s qualifying round and the runners were stretched out in single file at 3,000 metres, reached in 8:07.93.
With seven of the twelve laps remaining, Cragg became detached from the big leading group, but within a lap he had worked his way back into contention. “When I caught the leaders again they did not give me a second to get my feet,” Cragg said. “I was hoping to get in front because sometimes when you’re hurting and you are able to get your nose in front you forget about the hurting.”
Cragg acknowledged that this was almost sure to be the end of his Olympic track career, but said that he now plans to look to the marathon for future success.