Tokyo previews – Men’s 5000m

This could be the event of the games with so many athletes in contention for gold. A world record holder, two prodigies and a Spaniard on fire this could be an epic. Here’s our 5000m preview.


Tuesday 3 August 12:00 UK Time (Round 1) Friday 6 August 13:00 UK Time (Final)

2021 Fastest Times

2021 RankingsTime AthleteCountry
112:48.5Jakob IngebrigtsenNorway
212:49.0Hagos GebrhiwetEthiopia
312:50.1Mohammed AhmedCanada
412:50.8Mohamed KatirSpain
512:51.9Justyn KnightCanada
612:53.3Getnet WaleEthiopia
712:54.2Nibret MelakEthiopia
812:54.7Joshua CheptegeiUganda
912:55.6Jacob KiplimoUganda
1012:55.9Daniel Simiu EbenyoKenya

British interest

Andrew Butchart and Marc Scott make up the British Contingent. Butchart was sixth in Rio but has been beset by controversy that almost kept him out of Tokyo (a British Athletics investigation into lying about the result of a PCR test earned him a suspended 12 month ban from athletics). He has shown his strength in recent weeks, running 7.35 in Gateshead over 3000m but is up against a hugely talented field. He should make the final.

Mark Scott has struggled with injury of late after an early season where he thrust himself into medal contention. A 13.05 in the Sound Running Invite in March was the third best by a Brit of all-time but he hasn’t raced since being first Brit in the European Cup. He could figure but it is a step into the dark.

The favourites

Jakob Ingebrigtsen announced himself as a potential favourite by winning in a world lead in Florence. Since then he has been ill and was third over 1500m in Monaco. He will still be well in contention but it remains to be seen just how much it has taken out of him. He is also doubling over 1500m but most of the favourites also have a second event. With Ingebrigtsen you can’t seem him going for anything but gold and it will either pay off or backfire.

My pick for the favourite is Jacob Kiplimo, the Ugandan World Half Marathon Champion. Like the Norwegian he will be only twenty at the time of the Olympics and managed to get the better of Ingebrigtsen over 3000m in Rome last year. It will be a battle of two terrific kicks. He ran 12.55.60 in his only outing this year over 5000m to win in Lucerne and time-trialed a 26.33.93 10,000m in Ostrava. How much the double will take out of him remains to be seen.

Joshua Cheptegei has raced sparingly this year and was a disappointing sixth in Florence. As the world record holder he led out the race and wilted over the final few laps. Such an experience may serve to his benefit in Tokyo. He has also run over 3000m this year where he went for the world record but ended up well short in 7.33.24. We will see just what shape he is in seven weeks after his last race.

Mohammed Katir has certainly got people talking with Spanish records over 1500m, 3000m and 5,000m in recent weeks. He dominated in Gateshead over both 3000m and 5000m and has only lost to the very best this season. He should be in contention for a medal in Tokyo but from previous showings you would suggest he may be outkicked for gold.

Mo Ahmed of Canada was fourth in Rio and earnt bronze in Doha in 2019. He has every chance of repeating a medal and is entered into both the 5000m and 10,000m. He has not raced since running 12.50.12 in June. Behind him that day was compatriot Justyn Knight who has progressed hugely in 2021. He will have to progress some more to nudge his way onto the podium in Tokyo.

Our medal predictions

  1. Jacob Kiplimo
  2. Joshua Cheptegei
  3. Jakob Ingebrigtsen


WR: 12.35.36 Joshua Cheptegei (2020)

OR: 12.57.82 Kenenisa Bekele (2008 Bejiing)

Like the men’s 5000m preview, check out our other Tokyo previews.

Featured image “Catch me if you can” by Lim CK is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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