Kemboi in the mens 3000m SC at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Beijing, China

Preview: men’s 3000m steeplechase – IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015

Such has been Kenya’s historic domination of this event that nobody would be surprised at one of their runners taking the gold medal, or even repeating the feats of 1997 and 2007 when there was a clean sweep.

The only question appears to be what order the Kenyans will finish in.

Jairus Birech was last year’s Diamond Race winner and consensus number one in this event and he is the only man in the world this year under eight minutes, having run 7:58.83 when winning at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris last month.

He would have to be considered the favourite on his form over the past two years, having not been part of the Kenyan quartet who went to Moscow.

However, three-time world champion Ezekiel Kemboi is a wily and experienced competitor often not taking his early season races especially seriously, sometimes lulling opponents into a false sense of superiority, but timing his preparation to perfection.

This season he ran 8:01.71 to win at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene but then trailed in desultory 10th and 11th in Oslo and Paris respectively and, guaranteed of a place in Beijing, finished fourth at the Kenyan Trials.

Nevertheless, it would be a huge surprise if he wasn’t in contention for the medals despite his dismal recent results.

The two other members of the Kenyan team are the unrelated 2013 world silver medallist Conseslus Kipruto and 2007 world champion Brimin Kipruto.

Both have the historic credentials to get on the podium again and the two men are also fourth and fifth on the 2015 world list, although the latter looks somewhat adrift of the form that also took him to the 2008 Olympic title and a 7:53.64 African record in 2011.

Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad snatched a bronze medal at the past two World Championships to thwart Kenyan ambitions of claiming all the medals but the Frenchman will not be in Beijing and, instead, the only man from the rest of the world who looks likely to get among the Kenyans is Evan Jager.

Jager clocked a US record of 8:00.45 when finishing second behind Birech in Paris, when he looked seemingly set to go under eight minutes until he tripped over the last barrier.

After finishing fifth in Moscow, Jager will be bidding to become the first US steeplechaser to get a World Championships medal.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF