African Almaz Ayana smashed the world record to win the women's Olympic 10,000 metres race

Ethiopian
long-distance runner Almaz Ayana smashed the world record to win the
women’s Olympic 10,000 metres race on Friday, finishing in 29 minutes
and 17.45 seconds.

In addition to winning the first
gold medal for an African team in the 2016 Olympics, the 24-year-old
beat the previous record, in place for the last 23 years, by a
remarkable 14.46 seconds.

Her time was 14 seconds inside the 29:31.78 set by China’s Wang Junxia in 1993.
It
was the first time in seven years that a female athlete had run 10,000m
in under 30 minutes and the first four all achieved the feat. The first
13 women across the line clocked personal bests, including five
national records.

Kenya’s world 10,000m champion Vivian
Cheruiyot tried in vain to keep up with Ayana but had to settle for
silver while Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, the defending Olympic champion,
grabbed bronze.

African Almaz Ayana smashed the world record to win the women's Olympic 10,000 metres race

All
three women ran inside the old Olympic 10,000m record. Cheruiyot,
Kenya’s most decorated female athlete, also fell short in the 2012
London Games where she took bronze, meaning east African country’s wait
for its first women’s 10,000m gold medallist continues.

The
31-year-old Dibaba, who returned in 2016 from a two-year layoff
following the birth of her son, was seeking to become the first woman in
Olympic history to win an individual athletics event three times in a
row.

After crossing the finish line, Ayana raised her
arms in triumph and then crossed her heart as fans cheers from the
stand. She will now turn her attention to her preferred 5,000m distance,
in which she is favourite to win and become only the second woman after
Dibaba to claim gold in both the 5,000 and 10,000 in the same Game.

African Almaz Ayana smashed the world record to win the women's Olympic 10,000 metres race

Paula
Radcliffe, the world’s fastest female marathoner, told the BBC, “I ‘m
not sure that I can understand that. When I saw the world record set in
1993, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. And Ayana has absolutely
blitzed that time.”

Source: Reuters/ BBC/NBC

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