Molly Huddle Breaks 10K American Record at Olympic Games

By Allie Woodward for FloTrack

Molly Huddle took advantage of Almaz Ayana's world record pace to run her own American record in the Olympic Games 10,000m final. Huddle ran an American record of 30:13.17 to finish sixth in the 10,000m final Friday morning in Rio de Janeiro. 

Ayana won gold in a world record performance of 29:17, while Huddle displayed peak fitness in her fastest championship performance of her career. 

Huddle broke the previous American record mark of 30:22.22 set by Shalane Flanagan at the 2008 Olympics. Flanagan's previous American record earned the bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Beijing. 

Unlike the 2015 world championships, the women's 10,000m final was set in a fast pace from the gun, and Huddle bravely road the momentum. 

Alice Aprot Nawowuna of Kenya established a fast early lead by taking the field out in 3:01 for 1000m and 5:55 for 2000m. By the 5,000-meter mark, the competition for a medal was down to a select group of women which included 2015 5K world champion Ayana and defending Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba. Amazingly, Nawowuna took the group through 5,000m in 14:46, a glimpse at world record potential. 

Huddle followed in 14:55, just a few seconds slower than her American record of 14:42. Despite falling off the lead pack's blistering pace, Huddle maintained her composure through the remainder of the grueling race. 

Ayana went on to shatter the previous world record of 29:31 set by Wang Junxia of China in 1993. The Ethiopian's championship performance beat silver medalist Vivian Cheruiyot and bronze medalist Tirunesh Dibaba by 15 seconds.

Huddle closed for sixth overall, her best Olympic finish of her career so far. 

Almaz Ayana Breaks 10K World Record

By Taylor Dutch for FloTrack

In a stunning women's 10,000m championship, Ethiopia's Almaz Ayana shattered the world record by running 29:17.46 to win 10K gold at the Olympic Games. 

Silver was earned by Vivian Cheruiyot in 29:32.53 and bronze was claimed by defending Olympic champion Tirunesh Dibaba, who closed in 29:42.56. 

U.S. Olympic Trials champion Molly Huddle finished sixth overall and broke the American record in the process. Huddle finished in 30:13.17, which broke the previous record by a whopping nine seconds. The race was destined to make history from the beginning as the competitors established a fast championship showdown from the gun.

Alice Aprot Nawowuna of Kenya established an early lead among the competition with a 3:01 initial 1000m split. The world junior bronze medalist from Kenya took the field through 2000m in 5:55 and was followed by the Ethiopian powerhouse duo of world champion Ayana and defending Olympic champion Dibaba. The early move would set a precedent for the blazing fast pace that led the 10K championship. 

Nawowuna's front-running and brisk pace established an elite lead group early on, which included a loaded field of contenders. U.S. Trials winner Huddle attempted to run with the lead group, but was unable to hold the pace and found herself running alone around 12 minutes into the race. However, running alone wouldn't phase Huddle in the slightest.

Meanwhile, Nawowuna took the field through a blazing fast 5K split of 14:46. Huddle followed nine seconds behind in 14:55, just over 10 seconds slower than her American record 5K time of 14:42. 

As if the pace wasn't fast enough, Ayana shot to the front and established an even faster pace just after the 5K mark. With nine laps to go, Ayana found herself with a 20 meter lead on the field and no challengers in sight. The only woman who attempted to come close was reigning world champion Cheriuyot, who still trailed Ayana by a sizable amount. 

Ayana powered through 8K in 23:25, considerably faster than the world record pace set by Wang Junxia of China in 1993. On her way to setting the world record of 29:31, Junxia ran 23:59 for 8K.

In just her second track 10K ever, Ayana ran her way into the record books with a world record of 29:17.46, 15 seconds faster than silver medalist Cheruiyot and 42 seconds faster than Junxia's long-standing mark.