Kenya’s hopes of ending a 53-year wait for Olympic gold in the men’s 10,000 meters went up in smoke after Ethiopian Selemon Barega produced a virtuoso performance in the last two laps to clinch gold.
The world 5,000 meters silver medalist clocked 27:43.22 ahead of world record holder Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo (both of Uganda) who timed 27:43.63 and 27:43.88 in second and third respectively.
National cross-country champion Rodgers Kwemoi was the fastest Kenyan, clocking 27:50.06 in seventh.
World under-20 10,000 meters champion Rhonex Kipruto, who had led the leading pack for the majority of the 25-lap race, withered away to finish ninth in 27:52.78.
Another Kenyan, Weldon Kipkirui, finished 20th in 28:41.42.
The loss means Kenya is still waiting for a first medal at the games, which have so far been a disappointing outing.
Earlier, world 5,000 meters champion, Hellen Obiri; world 10,000 meters bronze medallist, Agnes Tirop, and former world cross-country bronze medallist, Lilian Kasait, all qualified for the final from their respective heats.
In Heat 1, Tirop (14:48.01) finished second behind Dutchwoman Sifan Hassan (14:47.79) and ahead of Ethiopian Senbere Teferi (14:48.31) in third.
Kasait finished fifth in 14:50.36 to round up the first five qualifiers.
In Heat 2, Obiri timed 14:55.77 to finish second behind Ethiopian Gudaf Tsegay in 14:55.74 and ahead of Italian Nadia Batocletti (14:55.83) in third.