U.S. Olympian Collapses at the Finish Line in Dramatic Race End as He Wins Bronze

Team USA's Paul Chelimo beat the fourth-place runner, Kenya's Nicholas Kipkorir Kimeli, by .12 of a second — and Kimeli soon said he wanted to review the results

It was a race to the very — very — end on Friday night in Tokyo as U.S. runner Paul Chelimo won bronze in the men's 5000m event in the Summer Olympics by a fraction of a second as he thrust himself head-first across the finish line and then collapsed, seemingly overcome.

Chelimo, 30, jutted his body forward to cross the finish in his final steps and then lay prone for several moments after falling to the ground before the official results flashed on the screen in the Olympic Stadium.

He had beaten Kenya's Nicholas Kipkorir Kimeli by .12 of a second, 12:59.05 to 12:59.17. Both men posted season's best numbers.

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They had seemed neck and neck (or foot and foot) in the final meters of the race until Kimeli sputtered, slightly, in his final steps.

Kimeli soon insisted to reporters he wanted to review the already certified results — a complaint that Chelimo shrugged off as he spoke with reporters afterward: "That was a clean race."

Paul Chelimo
Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Chelimo, a two-time Olympian, adds a bronze to the silver medal he won in the 5000m in the 2016 Games.

Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei won gold on Friday; Mohammed Ahmed of Canada won silver.

As he spoke with reporters, Chelimo exulted in the back-to-back medals and, when asked about his final push over the finish, said "I'm the person that I give 100 percent."

"Getting the bronze today ... it's what I did, I worked really hard to get that," he said.

"The goal was just to get the medal so I went out there and the last two laps were crazy," he said.

He also said the bronze was for his younger brother, Alberto, who died in the spring. "It's been a tough year," he said.

Chelimo has said he developed an interest in running while growing up in Kenya: "I realized that I was talented when I used to play tag with my brothers and, trust me, they would never catch me," he said in 2018.

Paul Chelimo men's 5000m
Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

The men's 5000m bronze adds to Team USA's smaller-than-usual medal haul in track and field, a sport in which they have traditionally dominated.

Other wins include Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad in the women's 400m hurdles, Raven Saunders in women's shot put, Grant Halloway in men's 110m hurdles and Katie Nageotte in women's pole vault.

To learn more about Team USA, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics now on NBC.

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