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Jamaica's Kemoy Campbell makes historic qualification to 5000m final

Thursday, August 10, 2017

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LONDON, England — Another piece of history has been written in Jamaica's rich athletics folklore as Kemoy Campbell became the first Jamaican to qualify for the final of the men's 5000-metre event at the World Championships.

The 26-year-old Campbell finished ninth in 13:26.67 minutes in the gruelling test of stamina in his heat. He was also ninth overall entering the final.

Selemon Barega of Ethiopia won that heat in 13:21.50, ahead of Birhanu Balew of Bahrain in 13:21.91. Cryus Rutto of Kenya was third with 13:22.45 minutes.

Favourite Mo Farah was second in his heat in 13:30.18 minutes, just behind Yomif Kejelcha of Ethiopia in 13:30.18, as only five person from a slow Heat Two advanced to the final.

Campbell's achievement marks another historic day in long-distance running for Jamaica. Though in the end he appeared to qualify fairly easily, it wasn't comfortable out there.

“It was a tough race out there. There was a lot of pushing, sliding around and people falling everywhere. I just had to step really carefully so I didn't fall like in Beijing (2015 World Championships). I came out qualifying; I am pretty happy if you ask me,” said Campbell.

“One of my thoughts immediately when everyone fell was to jump if they fell over in my lane. That kind of slowed me down a bit, but I was pretty spot on making sure I increased the pace when they did. It worked out very well.

The former Bellefield High School star, who holds three national records over 3000m, 5000m and 10,000m, has been Jamaica's flag bearer in the distance races over the last five years.

“I approached this race like it was a final, and now I am in the final I will have to run even harder,” he noted.

Campbell, who finished 14th in his heat in Beijing in 14.00.55m and was 10th in his heat at the Rio Olympic Games last year in clocking 13.30.32 minutes, is pleased with the preparation he had coming into this championships.

“I am very pleased. Me and my coach has been working very hard and he has telling me I can make the final, and it seems like it has got into my head,” Campbell pointed out.

“This is something really important to me and if I can get youths in Jamaica to see that even the distance runner in Jamaica can make finals and maybe do some damage in the finals,” he added.

“I came out and did my best and I am definitely proud of myself. It's been a learning process ever since I started professional running and it's been tough. But having someone there with me who has been through it like my coach (Mark Coogan). He has been telling me where he was at my age and I was further than he was, so that gives me confidence to just go out and compete at the best of my ability,” said Campbell.

Now Campbell is looking forward to the final on Saturday and he believes he can go much faster than his time in the heats.

“I am satisfied because it got me in the final and I think I can go much faster if the conditions are right”.

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