Running At The Rio 2016 Olympics: Who Are The Main Medal Contenders In The Women’s 10,000m And 5,000m Events?

Here's some of the runners you should watch out for in the long-distance track events at the Olympics.

Pictured: Ethiopia won 5,000m gold, silver, and bronze at the World Championships in 2015.

The 10,000 metres and 5,000 metres are two of the Olympic Games most distinguished running events. Who could forget, for example, Mo Farah winning gold in both the 5,000m and 10,000m at London 2012? Rio 2016 looks set to be another epic feast for long-distance running fans, with the women’s 10,000m and 5,000m looking fantastically well-poised.

Rio 2016 Olympic Stadium: Guide To The Estádio Olímpico João Havelange And A Schedule For The Track-Based Running Events

To help get you up to speed before the Rio 2016 Olympics, here’s everything you need to know about the women’s 10,000m and 5,000m events. Who are the favourites to win? Which countries look set to have a strong presence on the podium? And who could come from left-field, and spring a surprise? As always, we’re here to help.

Rio 2016 Olympics : Medal Contenders In The Men’s 10,000 Metres And 5,000 Metres Running Events

Contenders – 10,000 Metres (Women)

Vivian Cheruiyot – Kenya

Pictured: Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot will be going for gold at Rio 2016.

Vivian Cheruiyot, of Kenya, is arguably the best female long-distance runner in the world right now. Cheruiyot won 10,000m gold at the 2015 World Athletics Championships, to go with the 5,000m and 10,000m golds she won at the 2011 World Championships. At London 2012, Cheruiyot walked away with a 5,000m silver and a 10,000m bronze.

The one thing missing from Cheruiyot’s illustrious medal collection is Olympic gold. Don’t be surprised to see her finally achieve that ambition in Brazil this summer. Kenya, as you’ll no doubt be aware, have an excellent record of success when it comes to long-distance running. This remarkable Kenyan woman could be about to cement her place as one of the greatest runners that East Africa has ever produced. Keep your eyes on her at Rio 2016.

Emily Infeld – USA

Pictured: Emily Infeld celebrating her podium-finish at the 2015 World Athletics Championships.

One 10,000m runner who could stir the American long-distance running fans into a frenzy at Rio 2016 is Emily Infeld. Infeld won bronze in the women’s 10,000 metres at the 2015 World Athletics Championships, and has got enough talent to challenge for medals again in Brazil this summer.

Infeld will certainly be up against it, with strong competition from the East Africans, but you can fully expect her to be one of the main contenders at Rio 2016. Will she get the USA a spot on the podium? Watch the action unfold at the Estádio Olímpico João Havelange in the middle of August to find out.

Tirunesh Dibaba – Ethiopia 

Pictured: Tirunesh Dibaba, of Ethiopia, after winning gold at London 2012.

Tirunesh Dibaba, also known as the “Baby Faced Destroyer”, is probably the finest female long-distance runner of the 21st century. Dibaba won gold in the 10,000m at London 2012, to go with the golds she won in the 10,000m and 5,000m at Beijing 2008.  The Ethiopian first burst onto the scene with a World Athletics Championship 5,000m gold in 2003. She followed that up over the next decade with double gold in the 2005 World Championships, a 10,000m gold at Osaka 2007, and a 10,000m gold at Moscow 2013.

Dibaba is returning to competitive long-distance running after having a child with fellow Ethiopian Olympian Sileshi Sihine in 2015. She’ll be aiming to bag herself a third successive 10,000m Olympic gold in Rio this summer. Will she do it? With a track record like hers, you wouldn’t want to bet against Dibaba.

Sally Kipyego – Kenya

Pictured: Sally Kipyego after finishing second at London 2012.

Sally Kipyego won silver at London 2012, finishing ahead of Kenyan teammate Vivian Cheruiyot and just under six seconds behind race winner Tirunesh Dibaba. At the 2015 World Athletics Championships in Beijing, Kipyego finished fifth in the women’s 10,000 metres. If she runs a good race at Rio 2016, Kipyego might just be in and amongst the Olympic medal places.

Kipyego’s personal best for the 10,000m is 30:26.37. She set this time during her silver medal run at London 2012. Athletics Kenya will be dreaming of seeing both Kipyego and Cheruiyot finish in the top two this summer. Can Kipyego go one better than London 2012 and win gold at Rio 2016? Watching her try promises to be fascinating.

Gelete Burka Bati – Ethiopia 

Pictured: Gelete Burka Bati running at Doha 2010.

Gelete Burka Bati comes from the same part of Ethiopia as double Olympic champion, and long-distance running legend, Haile Gebrselassie. During her career, Burka has achieved great things in both middle-distance and long-distance running events.

At the 2015 World Athletics Championships, she won silver in the 10,000m. Previous to this she won 1,500m gold at the 2008 World Indoors, and 1,500m bronze at the 2010 World Indoors. In Istanbul, in 2012, Burka bagged herself a bronze in indoors 3,000m. This proven versatility in her running could make her a real contender at Rio 2016.

Running In The Olympics: Why Are Kenya And Ethiopia So Good At Running? What’s Behind East Africa’s Success In Long-Distance?

Contenders – 5,000 Metres (Women)

Almaz Ayana – Ethiopia

Pictured: Almaz Ayana is the third fastest female 5,000m runner of all time.

At the World Athletics Championships in 2015, Almaz Ayana led a remarkable one, two, three on the podium for Ethiopia by winning gold. Her finishing time was 14:26.83, a run almost 18 seconds quicker than Senbere Teferi’s silver-medal winning 14:44.07. A year previous to this triumph, Ayana won gold at the 2014 African Championships in Marrakech.

Ayana’s personal best for 5,000m is 14:14.32 (set at a Diamond League Meeting in 2015). Behind her compatriots Tirunesh Dibaba (see above) and world record holder Meseret Defar, Ayana is the third fastest female ever over this particular distance. She’ll be confident of winning gold in Rio.

Senbere Teferi – Ethiopia

Pictured: Senbere Teferi competing at the 2015 World Athletics Championships.

Senbere Tefere won silver at the World Athletics Championships in 2015, finishing between two Ethiopians (Almaz Ayana and Genzebe Dibaba). While Tefere finished almost 18 seconds behind Almaz Ayana, the distance between her and Tirunesh Dibaba’s sister Genzebe was an astonishingly narrow 0.07 seconds.

Ethiopia, of course, will be dreaming that Ayana, Teferi, and G. Dibaba can replicate their success from last year’s World Championships at Rio 2016. If Teferi runs a good race, and her teammates can deliver when it matters most, Ethiopia might just be celebrating the perfect gold, silver, and bronze combo for Olympic 5,000m this summer.

Genzebe Dibaba – Ethiopia

Pictured: Genzebe Dibaba is one of Ethiopia’s best runners.

Genzebe Dibaba is younger sister to the incredibly successful Tirunesh Dibaba. G. Dibaba, however, is so much more than a famous athlete’s sibling. Genzebe won a bronze medal, narrowly missing out on silver by less than a tenth of a second, at the 2015 World Athletics Championship in Beijing. Not only that, but Genzebe also found time to win 1,500m gold at the same championships.

G. Dibaba has won gold at three consecutive World Indoor Championships (once in the 1,500m, and twice in the 3,000m). She’s also won 3,000m gold at the 2014 Continental Cup, hosted in Marrakech, and holds numerous world records – including the 1,500m outdoors, the 1,500m indoors, the indoor 3,000m, and the outdoor 5,000m. Forget about Tirunesh for a moment. Genzeba might just cement herself amongst running royalty at Rio 2016.

Viola Kibiwot – Kenya

Pictured: Violo Kibiwot (left), running at London 2012.

At the 2015 World Championships in Athletics, the closest anyone came to upsetting the Ethiopian clean-sweep in women’s 5,000m was the Kenyan Viola Kibiwot. Kibiwot finished just two seconds behind Genzebe Dibaba (who took bronze), with a time of 14:14.16. When you realise that the next closest finisher Mercy Cherono, also a Kenyan, finished 15 seconds further back from Kibiwot it becomes clear that Kenya have got it all to do if they want to wrestle the 5,000m podium from Ethiopia’s grip.

Kibiwot, who has a personal best in the 5,000m of 14:33.48, has finished fourth at the last two World Championships in Athletics. At London 2012, she finished sixth. While it might seem that Ethiopia have got women’s 5,000m all sewn up, don’t count against a challenge from Kenya – with Kibiwot fully in the mix.

Mercy Cherono – Kenya

Pictured: Mercy Cherono at the 2013 World Championships in Athletics.

Another massive hope for Kenya in the women’s 5,000m event at Rio 2016 is Mercy Cherono. Cherono finished fifth in 5,000m at the 2015 World Athletics Championships, and bagged herself a silver medal in the same event at the 2013 World Championships.

Cherono, who won 5,000m gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, has a personal best of 14:34.10 (set last year at the Stade de France). Ethiopia will know that she’s a runner with more than enough ability to stake a claim for a podium spot at Rio 2016. If anyone from outside Ethiopia has a chance of stopping Almaz Ayana from winning gold this summer, it might just be Mercy Cherono. Whatever happens, it promises to be an incredible sporting spectacle.

You May Also Like:

Team GB At The Olympics: Who Will Be Representing Great Britain In The Marathon And 50km Walk At The Rio 2016 Games?

Running In The Olympics: An Essential Guide To The Rio 2016 Running Events, Their Distances, And The History Behind Them

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.