This is an interview by EBU Radio with the newly crowned steeplechase champion, Soufianne El Bakkali, who provided a master class in how to control a championship race on one’s reputation.
The race pace was, well pedestrian, 2:58 for the first kilometer, 2:54 for the second kilometer, and a final 2:33, which was a 1:56 last 800 meters and a 56.5 last 400m over one water jump and four barriers! Soufianne El Bakkali took over at the last water jump; the tall Moroccan is deceptively gangly, as the Olympic champion literally dusted the field over the last barrier winning in 8:25.13. Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia, a man who broke 8 minutes for the steeple in one week in June 2022, was silver in 8:26.01. In bronze, Conseslius Kipruto, running his best race in three years, running 8:27.92. This race was about medals, and not a fast time. El Bakkali has run a 3:32 for 1,500 meters, and his speed and agility over the barriers makes his quite dangerous in any steeplechase event.
Soufianne El Bakkali is the finest steeplechase racer in the world. Face it, this guy is tough! The Moroccan is a total rock star in his home country. If one looks at the Rabat DL where he took down Lamecha Girma in the last meters, the 30,000 boisterous fans were crazy for him. The TV broadcast showed El Bakkali meeting with the royal family of Morocco after his huge victory in the Diamond League, his first win in Rabat since 2017.
Soufianne El Bakkali told the media in the mixed zone that ” I am happy to win the World Championships in the steeplechase…it was my first gold medal, and I ran the race according to my plans! I enjoyed the world championships, and I have a gold medal in the Olympics and in the World Championships now. Thank you! ”
Soufianne El Bakkali was interviewed by EBU RADIO team in the mixed zone.