The middle and long distance races on Friday, had something for everyone. From the 800 meters for women, to the men’s steeplechase and men’s 10,000 meters, there were exciting races! Here’s the View from Kenya’s Justin Lagat!
Conseslus Kipruto led Kenyans to their traditional 1-2-3 finish in the men’s 3000m steeplechase at the Games since 1998 on the 6th day of athletics at the Gold Coast Games.
It was in a show of tremendous shape that Conseslus Kipruto ran a spectacular men’s 3000m steeplechase final in the Carrara Stadium talking to his team mates and urging them on despite being in such a fast pace that was inside the Games’ record. Kenyans have continued to dominate this event at the Commonwealth Games since 1990 with 1-2-3 clean sweeps of the podium in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014, and now just did it again at the ongoing Gold Coast Games.
Kipruto looked set from the start of the race to make sure the race favored the Kenyans as he made it a fast one that left a small pack at the lead that would be easier to monitor, just after the first 1000m. Once all the Kenyans were at the front, Kipruto remained in third position and left the two to exchange the lead. Mathew Hughes of Canada made a surprise move towards the front with less than two laps to go and for a while one Kenyan, Amos Kirui seemed to fall back from the pack as Kipruto and Abraham Kibiwott reacted. The Canadian began to tire after the last water barrier and Kipruto moved to lane two as he kept talking and urging Kibiwott to continue opening up the gap. Seeing that they were safe after the last jump, Kipruto eased away from his countryman as he started celebrating before crossing the line in a new Games record of 8:10.08. Kibiwott followed to take second in 8:10.62 as Kirui closed the gap strongly and edged Hughes just at the line to win the bronze medal in 8:12.24.
Graeme Fell of Canada was the last athlete to ever get a medal in 1994 in this event and it was interesting to watch another Canadian, Hughes trying hard to get into the podium unsuccessfully twenty four years later. It remains to be seen how long the Kenyans will continue to keep this tradition with the emerging pressure from their neighbours in Uganda as well as from Canada.
However, for Kenyans to maintain the tradition today, much credit should go to Kipruto for the team work he exhibited in this race. He is proving himself to be one of the best steeplechase runners of all time. In less than two years, he has now become the Olympic, the world and the Commonwealth Games champion. He definitely needs a world record now that he has all the big titles.
The men’s 10,000m race was another epic one! Jonathan Ndiku set a fast pace from the beginning. One would easily think it had something to do with Conseslus Kipruto breaking his 3,000m steeplechase Games record, and he immediately wanted to set a new one in the men’s 10,000m to compensate for that. Within the first 1,000m the field was already in a single file. However, the 10,000m race is so much longer than the 3000m steeplechase and Ndiku soon found out as he dropped from the leading pack of five that remained with a few laps to go. There was a great battle for the gold medal between Uganda’s Jushua Cheptegei and Canada’s Mohammed Ahmed as they came to the bell. In the end Cheptegei took the title in 27:19.62, which was a new Games record. Ahmed followed for silver while Kenya’s Rodgers Kwemoi took the bronze.
Caster Semenya continued her supremacy in the women’s 800m after winning the race in a new Games record as well of 1:56.68 followed by Kenya’s Margaret Nyairera for silver and Jamaica’s Natoya Goule for bronze.