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Paul Chelimo wins Olympic Trials 5000m by drifting into lane 4

2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials - Day 10

EUGENE, OREGON - JUNE 27: Cooper Teare, Grant Fisher, and Paul Chelimo compete in the Men’s 5,000 Meter Run during day ten of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 27, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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Rio silver medalist Paul Chelimo won the Olympic Trials 5000m, outsprinting and sliding Grant Fisher and Woody Kincaid multiple lanes outside in the final straight.

Chelimo prevailed in 13:26.82, edging Fisher by .19. Kincaid was another .12 behind. Kincaid and Fisher went one-two in the 10,000m on July 18 and are going to Japan in both distance races.

Cooper Teare, the rising Oregon senior, missed the team by .95. Teare was trying to become the youngest U.S. Olympic 5000m runner since fellow Duck Steve Prefontaine in 1972, according to

Trials finish later Sunday with six finals, including the men’s 200m and 1500m and women’s 800m and 400m hurdles.


Chelimo, a 30-year-old born in Kenya who gained citizenship through the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, makes it back to the Games, three months after younger brother Alberto died unexpectedly in Colorado Springs. Chelimo trains there.

Chelimo said he traveled to and from Kenya while training for Trials.

In the race, Chelimo said he got clipped from behind six or seven times. Multiple times while leading, he turned around to speak to Kincaid and then Hassan Mead, who trailed closely. Fisher and Kincaid were behind him and to his outside for the final sprint, so Chelimo drifted into lane four to force them to run extra meters to pass him. Neither did.

“At the end of the day, I’m a really nice guy,” said Chelimo, whose pandemic “training” included squirting dish soap into a bathtub and sliding in place. “But on the track we’re not friends.”

After his Olympic silver, Chelimo took bronze at the 2017 Worlds and was seventh at 2019 Worlds. Brit Mo Farah, the Olympic champ in 2012 and 2016, no longer races the 5000m. Ethiopian Muktar Edris, the world champ in 2017 and 2019, was fifth at Ethiopian Trials.

Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei emerged as the favorite, breaking a 16-year-old world record last year.

Chelimo went eight and a half months between races in 2020, according to, during which he said people kept asking if he retired.

“I believe in one thing,” Chelimo told Lewis Johnson on Olympic Channel, “go hard, or suffer the rest of your life.”

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