Ethiopia’s Ibrahim Jeilan produced an amazing home-stretch sprint to trump British favourite Mo Farah at the line of an enthralling men’s 10,000m at the world championships on Sunday.
Jeilan was a shock winner after defending champion Kenenisa Bekele, bidding for a fifth consecutive title and unbeaten over the distance, pulled out of the race with 10 laps to go.
Farah had made a break shortly before the bell for the final lap, taking Jeilan and bronze medal winner Imane Merga with him.
It immediately became apparent that Merga was out of the running, but Jeilan remained as a contender.
Farah clung on until the final bend when Jeilan made his move, the two neck-and-neck before the Ethiopian sped away with a final burst of speed.
Jeilan finished the 25-lap race in 27min 13.81sec, just 0.26sec ahead of a despondent Farah, the Somali-born Briton, while Merga clocked 27:19.14.
“I saw 100m to go,” said Farah. “Unfortunately I dug in but my legs had no more.
“I’m disappointed but I said all along it was completely different here as it’s much more tactical.
“I thought I had the speed and he was finishing quicker and quicker – 53sec (for the final lap) wasn’t quick enough. I didn’t go too early, I was always going to go at 400-500m.”
The impatient Zersenay Tadese broke after four laps, his fast pace stringing the field out over 50 metres.
The Eritrean stepped aside with 19 laps to go to let Merga take over the pacemaker’s role.
But with Merga and his Ethiopian teammates unwilling to keep up the pace, Tadese exchanged words with Sileshi Sihine and carried on, albeit at a slower rate than before.
Kenyan Peter Kirui then took up the running, seemingly much to Tadese’s relief, and Farah led the pack, now bunching up again, through the 16-lap mark.
After a couple of laps with the Kenyans sharing out the work, Tadese again put in a spurt and the pack fell to 11-strong, Bekele stringing along at the end.
But with 10 laps to go, Bekele dropped out of the race.
“I feared I would not finish the event as I am still struggling with a groin injury,” Bekele said. “I came out out of respect for the event.
“My right hip muscle wasn’t working. But I didn’t want to miss the race. I still thought I had a chance to compete. The pace wasn’t too fast but my injury started hurting a little bit (after the race began).”
Back on the track, Kenyan Martin Mathathi took up the running.
Farah bade his time until the bell and then bolted, taking the two Ethiopians with him.
As he rounded the bend, it looked like Farah might have it, but he was instead left slapping his head as he crossed the line in disbelief while Jeilan and Merga celebrated another Ethiopian 10,000m victory, albeit not Bekele’s.