Justin Lagat has kept busy this week, with six gold medals and the silver and bronze in the men’s 10,000 meters. Here is his piece on the steeplechase. Tonight, he just gets to watch a little TV and play with his baby daughter.
Jepkemoi, Ghribi, Krause, Coburn, Assefa, battle on, photo by PhotoRun.net
Hyvin Kiyeng becomes the new world champion in the women 3000m steeplechase in Beijing, by Justin Lagat
With a strong finishing kick, Hyvin Kiyeng ran past two athletes who were ahead of her in the last fifty meters in the women 3000m steeplechase final to cross the finish line in 9:19.11 and ensured that a Kenyan retained the world championship title again in this event.
It showed the emerging depth of Kenya’s talent in the 3000m steeplechase event when Kenya selected different names to the team other than those who had won gold and silver medals at the last edition of the championships in Moscow. The new crop still won the gold medal in Beijing. Milcah Chemos had run from the front at the 14th IAAF world championships in Moscow to win the race in that year’s world leading time of 9:11.65. She had become the first ever female runner from Kenya to win the championship title in this event. Her compatriot, Lydia Chepkurui, had also run behind Chemos to win a silver medal in a personal best 9:12.55. It was one of the greatest moments for Kenya at the Moscow championships.
Both of them though failed to make the Kenyan team this year as Chemos did not recover early enough from injury to prepare to defend her title. Lydia too was not able to make the team during Kenya’s trials in Nairobi.
Kiyeng who had been part of the team to Moscow in 2013 and had finished in 5th place during the world championships was lucky to make the Kenyan team this year again after winning the Kenyan trials ahead of the IAAF Diamond League leader, Virginia Nyambura, and Rosefline Chepngetich. All the three Kenyans made it through to the finals in Beijing and the only other country that had three athletes in the finals was the US.
Two athletes who had finished ahead of Kiyeng in Moscow; Ethiopia’s Sofia Assefa and Hiwot Ayalew, were at the starting line, together with another pre-race favorite; Tunisia’s Habiba Ghribi.
During the mid stages of the race, Ethiopia’s Ayalew had fell into the water barrier, but struggled again and closed the gap. The pace was not that fast and all the contenders were still all there in a pack as they came to the bell and them the pace went up during the last lap and the first Kenyan to drop back was Chepngetich. With 150 meters to go, Virginia Nyambura too began seeing the ground ahead of her stretching between her and the pack. Kiyeng became the only hope remaining for Kenya to medal. Up to the last twenty, or so, meters the precise positions to be taken by the three athletes in front could not be established. Kiyeng slightly edged Ghribi who packed silver in 9:19.24 and Germany’s Gesa Krause who took home the bronze medal in 9:19.25.
From day three of the world championships, Kenyans have been winning two gold medals daily inside the Bird’s Nest and the total count now is six gold medals. There are no finals tomorrow on the sixth day featuring Kenyan athletes, but there are still a number of races that offer chances for Kenyans to continue harvesting some more gold medals for Kenya.