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Men's 3000m Steeplechase Final

For the first time in Olympic history, four Kenyan-born runners took the top places in the Men’s 3000m Steeplechase final.  Of course, not all of them still compete for their native land, but the three that still wear the Kenyan colours certainly took aim on the outsider in the final stages.

Ezekiel Kemboi, the eventual winner in a season-best 8:05.81, took over the lead with 200m remaining, followed by a pair of 19-year-olds, Brimin Kipruto and Musa Obaid Amer of Qatar (Kenyan-born as Moses Kimutai), as the lead quartet leaped over the water for the final time. 

As Kemboi and Kipruto sped away out of the curve, the third Kenyan, Paul Kipsiele Koech, who owns the year’s best time, swept past the Qatari as the Kenyan phalanx headed down the straightaway for the final time. 

With a Kenyan medal sweep assured, Kemboi began semaphoring with his hands, looking back to his countrymen and beginning the celebration of their country’s first 1-2-3 Olympic finish in the Steeplechase since the Barcelona Games.

Kipruto held his second-place position with 8:06.11, and Koech clocked 8:06.64 for the bronze, while Amer came up medalless despite a PB 8:07.18.

The winning time, only 0.30 seconds off the Olympic record, might not have been so quick had the Kenyans not intervened early in the race.  As the first lap drew to a close in a tepid tempo, Kipruto shot to the front to force a quicker pace and shake off the rest of the field.  Within the next half lap, the Kenyans and Amer controlled the front end of the race, which they would continue to do the rest of the way. 

At the penultimate water jump, Luis Martín of Spain moved up and appeared ready to attack the front-running four, but he fell back in the final 300m, still finishing fifth in a season-best 8:11.64. 

The next two places went to the co-European record holders, Simon Vroemen of the Netherlands (8:13.25) and France’s Bob Tahri (8:14.26), both standing as their top performances of the year. 

EG