Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ahmed, Knight, Flanagan Take Top Three Spots in Canadian 5,000 Metres

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ahmed, Knight, Flanagan Take Top Three Spots in Canadian 5,000 Metres

Article excerpt

Mohammed Ahmed wins Canadian 5,000 title


OTTAWA - Fierce competitors on the track. Great friends off it. And part of the greatest crop of distance runners Canada has ever produced.

And, they hope, a terrific influence to young Canadian runners coming up behind them.

Mohammed Ahmed, Justyn Knight, and Ben Flanagan finished 1-2-3 in the men's 5,000 metres at the Canadian championships on Thursday evening, in a kicking race that came down to a fierce final 200 metres.

And then the three lingered long on the track, laughing and joking, any hints of a rivalry vanished.

"I think it's great to have role models that aren't scared to talk to the youth and inspire them. And we've just maintained such a great friendship," Knight said. "Even after my races at NCAA, I'd send Mo a message and say 'How do I work on this? How do I work on that?' And he'd always give me his best advice."

Ahmed, a 27-year-old from St. Catharines, Ont., is the oldest and most successful of the trio, racing to fourth in the 5,000 at the Rio Olympics. He crossed Thursday in 14 minutes 36.09 seconds.

Knight of Toronto, and Flanagan, from Kitchener, Ont., are both 21, and recently capped excellent NCAA careers, Flanagan winning the 10,000 metres for Michigan, and Knight winning silver in the 5,000 for Syracuse.

Knight crossed second on Thursday in 14:36.56, outleaning Flanagan, who crossed in 14:36.66.

"Mo, when I started doing track I realized who the top dogs were at the senior level, and obviously Mo was up there. And I'm not going to lie, I pretty much fan-boyed Mo," Knight said laughing. "I was that kid, he added me back on Facebook and I was freaking out, and it took me about seven days to figure out a sentence to write to him."

Flanagan told a similar story of being a young Ahmed fan. Flanagan was a high schooler running at the Canadian cross-country championships, and Ahmed sought him out after the race to say hi, and offer advice about his upcoming NCAA career.

"I was starstruck, I looked up to him my whole career," Flanagan said. …

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