Each week, we ask our friend and correspondent, Justin Lagat, to provide a view from Kenya on an event, an athlete, and discussion point in the global sport. This week, Justin Lagat writes about the journey of the great steeplechaser Conseslus Kiputo, who won the Diamond League race in Zurich, wearing only one shoe.
Conseslus Kipruto brought fans to their feet in a thrilling men’s 3000m steeplechase race at the Zurich Diamond League
Running with only one shoe, Kipruto proved that shoes do not matter much when one is in good form. On the second lap of the men’s 3000m steeplechase race, the spike on his left foot came off and he simply kicked it away for the safety of other runners following him and continued to race at the front calmly behind the pace maker. Everything was building up towards one tense and exciting race as fans wondered if Kipruto was still going to finish the race.
The seven and half lap race will definitely remain to be one of the most memorable events to remember at this year’s Diamond league season, especially to the fans that had turned up in the stadium to watch the race live. Judging from the atmosphere in the stadium and the loud cheering that came out of the crowds towards the climax of the race, it was clear that Kipruto had won the hearts of many of the spectators due to his determination to continue racing on despite the shoe mishap.
With one lap to go, El Bakkali who was one of the pre-race favorites began to open up a gap with Kipruto in hot pursuit as the crowds in the stadium stood up and cheered in wild excitement. The two athletes quickly disintegrated from the rest as they fought hard each one exhibiting their great determination to win the trophy. El Bakkali was still leading even after jumping the last barrier, but then Kipruto unleashed his finishing kick to edge him just at the finish line. Evan Jager followed them to take the third position.
There were other amazing performances in the distance races of the evening in the women’s 5000m, men’s 1500m and in the women’s 800m.
The women’s 5000m race started in a fast pace, but it slackened a bit after the pace setter stepped out of the race. Perhaps this was a race strategy by the two strong finishers; Hellen Obiri and Sifan Hassan. The two engaged in one fast finish in the last 200m of the women with Obiri emerging as the winner. An almost similar battle was witnessed in the last stages of the men’s 1500m race between Elijah Manangoi and Timothy Cheruiyot in which Cheruiyot managed to sustain the kick for a longer time and consequently emerged as the winner.
Caster Semenya, as usual in the women 800m, ran alone at the front to win her race in another fast time of 1:55.27.