Purity Kirui, World Junior 2010, photo by PhotoRun.net
Another clean sweep for Kenyan women in the 3000m steeplechase at the Glasgow Games, by Justin Lagat
It was another great evening for Kenyans in the Hampden Park Stadium in Glasgow when three of their athletes again swept all the podium positions in the women 3000m steeplechase final. Purity Kirui snuck past Milcah Chemos at the home stretch to win the race in 9:30.96. Chemos followed in 9:31.30 while the third Kenyan, Joan Kipkemoi crossed the finish line in 9:33.34. It was a repeat of what the 10,000m women had just done the previous day, and also a repeat of the 2010 Commonwealth Games’ podium sweep by the Kenyan women in the 3000m event there.
In the absence of Ethiopians, Australian athletes gave Kenyans a hard run for their money in this event. A leading pack of six athletes; three Kenyans and three Australians dominated the better part of the race leaving the rest of the athletes to run their own race behind them.
Kenyan athletes had all immediately moved to control the pace at the front soon after the start of the race. It was a moderate pace. The rest of the field ran just behind them until after around the last five laps when the leading pack of six started to open a gap. It was a tense moment for Kenyan fans as it was not easy to tell what was going to happen next. There was a high possibility of one, or even two Australians spoiling the party for the Kenyans here, especially given the fact that one, Mike Shelly, had already beaten the Kenyans on the first day of athletics in Glasgow during the men’s marathon event.
The real worry was on the third athlete, Joan Kipkemoi, who was beginning to lose some ground on the other two Kenyans and had already been overtaken by two Australian athletes with less than two laps to go. But, at the sound of the bell, she began to regain some strength and started to battle hard for a third place. Australia’s Heiner kept the race tense and interesting as she dangerously kept breathing down hot air on Kipkemoi’s neck as she came to finish in third place. A fraction of a second separated them. The battle for gold and silver medals, which had already appeared set for Milcah Chemos and Purity Kirui at the bell, had already been won ahead of them.
Four years ago, it was Milka Chemos who had run past Mercy Njoroge towards the finishing of the 3000m finals at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games to win a gold medal and as though to remind the Moscow world champion of that incident when she too was beginning to shine, a new upstart overtook and prevented her from defending her Commonwealth title in Glasgow. Chemos’ recent past, from 2010 to 2013, had been great as she had remained dominant and undefeated in most of the IAAF steeplechase events until when she put off her training for a while in November last year, a few months after her Moscow feat. Of late, she has been struggling to get back to her past form and her season’s best time here in Glasgow, and a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, is an indication that she is returning to her usual place in the world of steeplechase running.
Purity Kirui, who has a personal best time of 9:19.42 which she set at the Doha IAAF Diamond League last year, came to the limelight in 2010 when she won the world junior title in the 3000m steeplechase in Moncton. Before coming to Glasgow, she had finished second at the New York Diamond League on 14th June becoming the best placed Kenyan so far in the event in the 2014 Diamond League season.
Milcah Chemos’ dominance of the steeplechase event started at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Will the 2014 Games be the start of another dominance by Purity Kirui?