Somali Canadian Mo Ahmed wins silver in sprints to second in dramatic finish at Olympics

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Canada’s Mo Ahmed closed with amazing speed through the final bend and down the stretch to claim Olympic silver on Friday in the men’s 5,000 metres, a race dominated so long by Kenyans, Ethiopians and Great Britain’s Mo Farah, who won the previous two golds at the Games.

Ahmed — a 30-year-old who was born in Somalia, grew up in St. Catharines, Ont. and has trained for years in Oregon — cruised past Nicholas Kimeli of Kenya and reeled in Paul Chelimo, a Kenyan-born runner who moved to the United States.

Ahmed crossed the line in Tokyo’s National Stadium in 12:58.61. And if this was a 5,100-metre race, he might have wound up with the gold.

But he couldn’t quite catch Joshua Cheptegei, the Ugandan and world record holder in the distance who went to the lead laps earlier and still had enough gas in the tank to grab the gold medal in 12:58.15.

“I did not think this race was going to be fast. I thought they were just going to let it go. But Joshua came to play tonight. The real Joshua, that’s when he runs the best when he’s up front, when he dictates the pace,” Ahmed said following his run.t was Olympic redemption for Ahmed, who finished fourth in the event in the 2016 Rio Games.

“I’m elated. I was off the podium five years ago, and it’s not been an easy five years for me. There’s been mental checks, a lot of doubts and uncertainty. I put a lot of work into this, and in that last 150 (metres) that’s what I was thinking about,” he said after the race.

This is Ahmed’s second event of the Games. He competed in the 10,000m last week and finished sixth.

Following his 5,000m run, he said he “went through a lot of emotions” after his 10,000m race and he’d thought he’d had a chance to be on the podium in that earlier event.

“With 200m to go I thought if I fought a little bit harder and found some strength I could have got in a medal there, too. It’s just the way that it goes,” Ahmed said after the race. “I just did what I had to do to try and pick myself up. Coaching staff, medical time, everyone did what they had to do to get me ready.”

Canadian Justyn Knight, who had been hanging with Ahmed in sixth and seventh place for much of the 12.5-lap race, wound up seventh in 13:04.38.

It was Canada’s fifth medal in athletics at the Tokyo Games and came mere hours after Evan Dunfee made his own late charge to win bronze in the 50-kilometre race walk in Sapporo.

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