Canada’s Ahmed finishes 3rd in 5,000-metre race at Diamond League stop in Florence

Canadian Moh Ahmed earned a third-place finish in the men’s 5,000-metre race on Thursday at the Diamond League meet in Florence, Italy.

The 30-year-old native of St. Catharines, Ont., finished with a season-best time of 12 minutes 50.12 seconds, finishing behind Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet who crossed the finish line in second with a time of 12:49.02 and Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigsten who won with a time of 12:48.45.

“Today it was like winning a gold medal. It is pretty crazy,” Ingebrigtsen said. “I was expecting a PB, because it has been two years since my last PB. I was most likely to run under 13 minutes, but this European record is incredible.

“Now I have to be able to win a medal, too. If I am able to win against the best runners, then I can also win at the Olympics. I am always excited to race. I did not expect this time and this record.”

WATCH | Norway’s Ingebrigsten wins 5k, Canada’s Ahmed secures podium finish:

Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigsten set a European record in the men’s 5,000-metre race at the Diamond League meet in Florence Italy, with a time of 12:48.45. Mohammed Ahmed of St. Catharines, Ont., finished in third. 17:19

Toronto native Justyn Knight finished in fifth with a time of 12:51.93, which is a personal best for the 24-year-old, who didn’t race in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Knight dipped under the 13:13.50 Tokyo Olympic standard with his previous PB of 13:09.76 from June 6, 2019 at the Golden Gala meet that was held in Rome that year. Thursday’s competition was relocated to Florence since Stadio Olimpico in Rome is hosting European championship soccer matches this week.

Knight pleased with return to competition

“Throughout the day I was very nervous for a lot of reasons but mostly because it was my first 5K in two years,” Knight told CBC Sports. “I also knew that I’ve been working hard all year and wanted to showcase that.

“Once I got to the meet I instantly felt a lot calmer. I knew I belonged in the race and believed in myself.”

Knight moved quickly off the start line and positioned himself two spots behind a pair of pacesetters after the first of 12 laps at Asics Firenze Marathon Stadium.

“That was the perk of running [three] 1,500s [over the past four months]. I’ve been so used to getting out a lot quicker [in races],” he said. “I felt great for most of [Thursday’s] race [but] the last three laps were tough.”

Knight said the three and a half second gap between him and Ingebrigtsen shows there is work to be done leading up to the Olympics to close the gap.

“I think there’s a lot of room for improvement,” said the Reebok Boston Track Club runner, “but not bad for my first 5K in a while.”

Ahmed ranked ninth in the world and Knight 15th entering the competition.

Fellow Torontonian Gabriela DeBues-Stafford placed fourth in the women’s 1500-metre race with a season-best time of 4:00.46. Ahead of her was Great Britain’s Laura Muir, who finished third with a time of 3:55.59, Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, who placed second with a time of 3:53.91, and winner Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands.

Hassan came within half a second of a world record in the women’s 1,500. Her meeting record of 3:53.63 saw her beat Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon, despite the Kenyan running a personal best and national record.

Quebec City native Jean-Simon Desgangés finished in 13th place in the 3,000-metre steeplechase in his Diamond League debut, with a time of 8 minutes 39.47 seconds.

WATCH | Dutch runner Sifan Hassan sets meet record in women’s 1500m:

Four days after breaking the women’s 10,000-metre world record, Dutch runner Sifan Hassan won the women’s 1,500-metre race at the Diamond League event in Florence, Italy with a time of 3:53.63. Toronto’s Gabriela Debues-Stafford finished in fourth place with a season-best time of 4:00.46. 8:58 

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