Above: Zane Robertson on his way to a New Zealand Record at the Rio Olympics. Photo by Paul Gilham / Getty Images.
Zane Robertson ran one of the races of his life in coming in 12th in the Rio Olympics 10,000m in 27:33.67 to carve eight seconds off Dick Quax’s 39 year old New Zealand national record.
Robertson execution was perfect keeping out of trouble from the start running towards the rear of the 34 strong field. With eight laps to go he was in 18th place and over the closing stages when the pace went on at the front Robertson was running strongly and picking up places from those who dropped off from the leading group.
Mo Farah was brilliant repeating his win from the London Olympics, outkicking Kenya’s Paul Tanui to win in 27:05.17. Tanui recorded 27:05.64 and Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia was third in 27:06.26.
Robertson, the bronze medallist in the 5000m at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, cut 13 seconds off his previous best set in Oregon in May last year.
The 26 year old who had come off training at altitude in Switzerland said that he kept to his pre-race plan throughout the race.
“Tonight was all about the national record and I knew these guys were going to push it, so I just tried my best to run to my race plan and I knew that if I keep running hard enough I’ll catch back up to the group after I dropped in the surges and every time I got back until they really decided to go, but by then I had the drop offs coming back to me and I’m just really happy that I achieved something and come away from this with my goal achieved,” said a delighted Robertson.
He added that he still has more in the tank.
“I think that I have a little more in the tank, we started the race really slowly so definitely I have more there and I think 27:10 tonight was possible but I’m not disappointed, I almost beat Geoffrey Kamworor who was the silver medallist last year in Beijing, so a tough group of guys and I did my job.”
It is a performance that he was ready for.
“Twelfth is just a number here tonight we had 20 guys who are under the New Zealand record in the 5000m, under the New Zealand record in the 10,000m and to do it on the world stage it’s one hit one shot and you make any mistake and it’s gone.”
And he had no trouble during the race.
“I’ve come through intact, I saw some of the guys get some shoving, but I stayed out of trouble and I got tripped almost once but just held it together you can’t let these things affect you.”
Also training at St Maritz was of benefit but he almost didn’t make it to Rio.
“I trained there before Glasgow and I trained there again before Rio and during this time of the year it’s raining in Africa, but six weeks ago I wasn’t running, I had a neurological injury in my back, it felt like I’d torn the calf muscle in my leg but once we’d figured out what it was I got the treatment and the next day I was running, science is an amazing thing.
Robertson said that he wasn’t fazed racing against Mo Farah.
“I’ve raced with him before, I don’t care about names or who’s who I just go out there and do my thing and I try to beat everyone.”
Dick Quax said he was pleased for Robertson to get his record.
“It’s time it went, he ran a fine race, coming home faster over the second 5000m, I’m delighted for him. It was a great race to watch,” said Quax. “I'm now just the second fastest 10,000m runner from Hamilton Boy's High School behind Zane"
Athletics New Zealand Correspondent