Athletics: Ethiopia’s Selemon Barega wins first track gold of Tokyo Olympics in 10,000m race

Barega broke clear on the last lap and won in 27 minutes, 43.22 seconds. The 21-year-old Barega upset world champion and world-record holder Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, who took the silver medal in 27:43.63.

Selemon Barega of Ethiopia celebrates after winning the final of 10,000m race at the Tokyo Olympics on Friday.   -  REUTERS

Selemon Barega won the first track and field gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics on Friday and claimed the 10,000-meter title back for Ethiopia after nearly a decade of dominance by Mo Farah.

Barega broke clear on the last lap and won in 27 minutes, 43.22 seconds. The 21-year-old Barega upset world champion and world-record holder Joshua Cheptegei of Uganda, who took the silver medal in 27:43.63. Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda was third for bronze.

Barega's last-lap burst was good enough as he moved out in front with about 300 meters to go and held off the late charge by the two Ugandans, who were expected to go 1-2 in the first track final of the Tokyo Games.

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Barega had no major titles in the 10,000 before Friday. His first was the big one.

He also put Ethiopia back on top in the Olympic 10,000 after Farah claimed gold at the last two Olympics. Farah isn't running in Tokyo after failing to make the British team.

The last Ethiopian to win the 10,000 at the Olympics was Kenenisa Bekele, who won the event in 2004 and 2008.

Barega won at a largely empty Olympic Stadium. The men's 10,000 was the only medal event on the first day of track competition.

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