RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Former UNCG track standout Paul Chelimo picked a great time to turn in his personal-best time, as Chelimo clocked the best time in the preliminary rounds of the 5,000-meter race at Olympic Stadium in the 2016 Rio Olympic games Wednesday morning. Chelimo automatically qualified for the 5,000-meter race finals, which will be held Saturday at 8:30 p.m. (ET) live on NBC.
“Today was a great experience for me,” Chelimo said. “I came in wanting to have a good day and enjoy my first Olympic experience. I didn’t put too much pressure on myself but I am really happy I am going on to the finals. This race with my personal-best gives me a lot of confidence heading into the event finals Saturday night.”
Chelimo, running in the second of two heats, won his heat and posted the best time of any of the 51 runners in the preliminary heats, while also posting a new personal-best of 13:19.54. He out-raced Muktar Edris and Dejen Gebremeskel of Ethiopia on the last lap, including a big finishing kick down the final 100 meters of the race.
Chelimo’s heat was the faster of the two heats Wednesday as the top five from each heat qualified along with the next five fastest times, all of which came from Heat 2.
“The UNCG support has been overwhelming to me,” Chelimo said. “UNCG is still a family to me and it is a great feeling to get all of that support they have been showing me.”