A race with much tension and excitement as the top three athletes ran away from the field. Justin Lagat wrote this piece before he knew that Ezekiel Kemboi had been disqualified for what, I believe, is nonsense. But, Justin was already grieving as no Kenyan men will make the 5000 meter final.
Conseslus Kipruto puts Kenya on top of the world on the athletics medal standings in Rio
Another gold medal came to Kenya on the sixth day of athletics in Rio when Conseslus Kipruto demostrated to the world that he is now the new king of the men’s 3000m steeplechase. This was the fourth gold medal for Kenya and it put the country at the top of the medal table after overtaking USA that had a total of three gold medals just after this event.
Kipruto and Evan Jager of USA made it a fast race from the beginning and began opening a gap on the rest of the field before Ezekiel Kemboi joined them at the front. Jager kept doing much of the pacing and it was not until the bell was rung when Kipruto and Kemboi went past him in a final sprint. But, Kemboi could not shake off Jager who kept following him closely on the back straight as Kipruto continued developing a sizeable gap at the front.
With about 100m to go, Kipruto glanced back and started celebrating. Almost at the finish line, he moved to the second lane as he waved to the crowds seemingly oblivious of the fact that he was actually just about to record a new Olympic record of 8:03.28. Jager overtook Kemboi at the last hurdle as they approached the finish to win a silver medal in 8:04.28 as Kemboi jogged to finish third in 8:08.47.
The Kenyans have long been aware of Evans Jager of the US being a threat in their dominance at this event. Jairus Birech’s, the 2014 IAAF diamond league winner, observations finally came true. I still remember an interview he did with RunBlogRun last year ahead of the IAAF world championships, he had said, “many people think that Mekhissi Benabbad is the athlete to prevent the Kenyans from taking a clean sweep in this event, but personally, I think that Evan Jager of the US may be even a greater threat this time round.”
But, before Kenyans could celebrate the men’s 3000m steeplechase results, the surprise of the day had happened in the men’s 5000m heats: Unbelievably, none of the Kenyan athletes qualified to the finals. After leading in the first heat from the bell to the last fifty or so meters, Caleb Ndiku suddenly faded to finish in sixth position failing to secure a place in the five automatic positions. The other Kenyans finished further behind. Kenyans took to the social media though consoling themselves that, now that there will be no one representing Kenya in the final, they will be cheering for the Kenyan-born athletes; Paul Chelimo, Benard Lagat and Albert Rop.
In the women 800m heats, all the three Kenyan women; Eunice Sum, Margaret Nyairera and Winnie Chebet advanced to the semi-finals. They still have to qualify through to the finals though, so it is still too early to think about the possible medals for Kenya at this stage.