Kenya’s Caleb Mwangangi Ndiku produced a kick worthy of the absent Mo Farah to win the Commonwealth 5,000 metres titles at a packed Hampden Park – and then warned the Olympic and world champion he was ready to challenge his dominance.
The colourful 21-year-old, who had dyed his hair gold specially for his expected meeting with Farah, only for the Londoner to pull out of the Games following illness on Thursday, showed devastating finishing speed to land a medal to match.
Ndiku, the world indoor 3,000m champion, completed the final lap in 54.11 seconds to come home, eyes bulging, in 13mins 12.07secs. Even a fully-fit Farah would have to have been at his best to live with that.
Farah would also have been impressed by Ndiku’s tactics and timing as he did not try to match the fast early pace.
In chilly conditions in Glasgow, the victor took the bell just in front of team-mate Isiah Kiplangat Koech, who could not live with the pace over the final 400m and settled for silver in 13:14.06.
The Kenyan, ranked fifth in the world this year, owes his speed to his 1500m background – he was world junior champion over the distance four years ago and African champion in 2012 – but he is now out to make waves over the longer distance.
Asked if his run had sent out a message, he said: “What the Ethiopians and Farah know is that I am not an easy guy to beat.
“I know they are not easy, but that does not matter to me. So long as we meet in the races, whoever will take it will have to be in good shape. But I am ready to face them. We are focused on Olympic Games (in Rio in 2016) and next year’s world championships (in Beijing).”
England’s Andy Vernon was the first Briton home in sixth and admitted Farah would have had struggled to live with Ndiku.
“He will always be the guy that I’d watch out for in the championships. I think he’d definitely have given Mo a run for his money if Mo had been here. He’s very good.”
Earlier Adam Gemili demonstrated his medal credentials in the 100m by breezing into the semi-finals as the fastest qualifier.
Gemili powered through the first 60 metres before easing off the gas to win his heat in 10.15 and afterwards insisted there was more to come..
The 20-year-old’s team-mates Richard Kilty of Stockton-on-Tees and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey also advanced to today’s semis, although looked less impressive.
Cleckheaton hammer thrower Sarah Holt qualified for today’s final.