Doha close shave gives Kipruto the jitters

Philip Muchiri in Doha, Qatar

Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto said the stiff competition witnessed in the men’s 3000m steeplechase final at the IAAF World Championships is a signal that Kenya’s supreme dominance in the event is under great threat.

Kipruto won gold on Friday night in the Qatari capital Doha after edging a dramatic photo finish with Ethiopian Lamecha Girma by 0.01 seconds, the closest ever margin that a global title has been won in the water and barriers race.

It marked Kenya’s 23rd straight victory in the event but Kipruto, who had to come from behind to win his third successive global title, has warned that the streak could soon be coming to an end.

In the home straight the race came down to a 100m sprint and Kipruto just won it, dipping to pip the 18-year-old Girma on the line in a time of eight minutes, 1.35 seconds. In taking for silver, Girma thus won Ethiopia’s first ever medal in the event.

Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali completed the podium by taking the bronze.

“It was a very strong competition, I tried to go in front to control the pace but they were their behind chasing because they knew I was going to sprint,” Kipruto told Citizen Digital.

“Steeplechase is no longer a Kenyan affair; many would have wanted us to sweep the medal but we have very strong competitors, for this race I thought it’s important to win,” he added.

The thought of failing to defend the title he last won in London made the self-proclaimed king of steeplechase to change his plans for a team work.

“We call ourselves the power house of steeplechase but we need to invest in the young athletes and make sure we have facilities, this season I have been out due to injury and if I was not here today we could have lost this,” Kipruto said.

Kipruto took time to control his compatriots in order to maintain the consistency that has been witnessed but to no avail.

“I like team work and I was looking at the big screen but I could not see the other Kenyans, that is when I decided to go for victory,” he added.

Stiff competition at the final lap led to two National records, three personal best, two season best’s and a world leading time registered.

“The race was so difficult and nobody thought that time would be registered in fact this is the first championship race to register eight minutes 01 seconds,” Benjamin Kigen said after finishing fifth in a time of 8:06.95.

Other Kenyan’s, Abraham Kibiwot, 8:08.52 and Leonard Kipkemoi Bett, 8:10.64, took the seventh and ninth positions respectively.