Arikan adds 10,000 gold to 5000m bronze
|Polat Kemboi Arikan of Turkey won the 10,000m gold in a time of
28:22.27 in Helsinki on Saturday.
Italy's Daniele Meucci, fifth in the 5000m final, and 11 seconds clear at the top of the 2012 European rankings thanks to his recent personal best of 27:32.86, secured silver as he chased Arikan home in 28:22.73, and Yvegeniy Rybakov secured bronze with a season's best of 28:22.95.
"The race was good," said Arikan. "You cannot complain about the rain, because everybody was feeling it. And the time – well, sometimes the time is good, sometimes not. But I have the gold."
Meucci commented: "It was a good race. I had some problems with my stomach around 5000m, but otherwise I was OK. At the end I was tired and just pushed and pushed. The gold medal was close, but I'm happy with my silver."
The tall, leggy 21-year-old fully deserved his victory in a race where, in cold and wet conditions, he had spent the majority of time in the lead. Arikan led the field through 3000m in heavy rain in 8:41.04, with the pack, led by Meucci, right on his shoulder. By the time the lengthening field came round to the start line with 15 laps remaining, the rain had relented, but the pace remained steady.
With 14 laps remaining, Arikan –who indicated his gold medal potential earlier this month with a personal best 10,000m of 27:56.28 in Bilbao - ran deliberately wide, inviting the Italian to take over the lead. But it was an invitation the blue-shirted Meucci, glancing up from under his white baseball cap at the big screen to check the general position, refused to take, and so the adopted Kenyan resumed his role as leader, although next time round Portugal's Rui Silva, moving through on the inside, began to take up some of the running.
These two men led through 5000m in 14.21.93, and with 10 laps remaining a group of nine had detached themselves from the left. With six laps remaining, nine had become eight, and Silva was the man leading the group through 8000m in 22:52.80.
Arikan resumed the lead as the group came round with three laps remaining, and with two laps remaining, Rybakov at his shoulder. As the eight men rounded the top bend for the penultimate time they bunched even closer together, and they remained so as the bell sounded.
Halfway down the back straight Meucci moved up to challenge Arikan, but the naturalised Turk responded and held a lead of a couple of metres as he rounded the top bend and came into the straight, maintaining his form as he sought the line. Meucci and Rybakov gave chase over the final 80m, but there was no catching the smooth performer in the red shirt and Arikan finished a couple of strides clear.
Behind the medallists, Bashir Abdi of Belgium had most to spare as he finished fourth in 28:23.72, ahead of two Spaniards, Carles Castillejo and Ayad Lamdassem, who clocked 28:24.51 and 28:26.46 respectively.
The 31-year-old Silva ended in eighth place, in a season's best of 28:31.16, one place behind Khalid Choukoud of the Netherlands, who recorded a personal best of 28:26.82.