Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya celebrates as he crosses the line to win the gold medal and set the championship record in the men's 3000m Steeplechase final in the Berlin Olympic Stadium (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report

Event Report - Men's 3000m Steeplechase - Final

After three successive silver medal finishes, Kenyan Ezekiel Kemboi finally struck gold at the World championships.

The determination of the 27-year-old was evident even before the gun sounded, as Kemboi, the 2004 Olympic champion, shook nervously as he waited for the gun to sound.

Near the front from the outset, Kemboi took control with just under a lap to go en route to an 8:00.43 performance to finally relegate the 8:04.16 championships record set by another Kenyan, Moses Kiptanui, in 1995 in Gothenburg, to the dustbin of history. Behind him the action was fast and furious, with the top four finishers all reaching the line in under 8:02 to clearly produce the finest race in World championships history. Incidentally, Kiptanui is also Kemboi’s coach.

“Now it is golden Berlin,” said Kemboi, this year’s world leader at 7:58.85, the only man to dip under eight minutes in 2009.

But as valiant an effort they managed to produce, the next three across the line were not his compatriots, who prior to the race were aiming to not only replicate their podium sweeps from 1997 and 2007, but an unlikely top-four finish.

Kemboi and Paul Kipsiele Koech took charge early, soon leaving behind South African Ruben Ramolefi, who toyed with the lead early. With four laps to go, Koech and Kemboi were at the front, with Brimin Kipruto and Richard Mateelong fourth and fifth. Splitting the middle was European record holder Bob Tahri of France, who was running comfortably throughout despite being surrounded by unfriendly colours.

The Kenyan top-four finish hopes were gone a lap later when Kipruto, the defending champion and Olympic gold medallist, was left behind. With about 250 metres to go, Kemboi was leading Mateelong and Koech, and despite padding his lead as he approached the water jump for the final time, the trio couldn’t shake the Frenchman.

The order remained down the homestretch, but Tahri didn’t relent, even after badly stutter-stepping before the final hurdle. With Mateelong, who was clearly on the way to a well-earned silver with a PB 8:00.89, out of reach, Tahri pressed on and finally caought Koech in the last five metres. He stopped the clock in 8:01.18 to break his own continental record, and a mere 0.08 ahead of Koech.

The quartet were well ahead of the rest. Ethiopians Yacob Jarso (8:12.13, PB) and Roba Gary (8:12.40) were next, with Kipruto finishing seventh (8:12.61). The next two across the line were Europeans Jukka Keskisalo (8:14.47) of Finland and Spaniard Eliseo Martin (8:16.51).

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF