1 September 2011Daegu, Korea - Ezekiel Kemboi with a sprint approaching the final 200 marker that completely outwitted his opponents retained his 3000 metres Steeplechase title rather easily than expected.
Kemboi with his magnificent finish surprised even his fellow Kenyan Brimin Kipruto with a supersonic burst which saw him win by a lengthy margin of 1.20 secoonds in 8:14.85.
Kipruto who last month missed the World record belonging Qatar's Saif Saeed Shaheen of 7:53.63 by just 0.01sec when Kemboi was runner up in lifetime best 7:55.76, nearly lost the silver.
The 2007 champion with the gold medal lost slowed to a virtual halt which allowed Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabaad who had surged into third place 80m from the line but was well behind the Kenyan pair. Fortunately he was quick enough to kick start his body over the line to beat the Frenchman by 0.04sec in 8:16.09.
On a night and in a race which offered so much beforehand, where Kipruto was understood to be aiming off for the World record and a US$100,000 dollar bonus in addition to the winner's US$60,000 prize, it never materialised. Nor did a Kenyan clean sweep of the medals last achieved four years ago when he led Kemboi and Richard Mateelong across the line in Osaka.
Indeed it was the slowest final since Reuben Kosgei won a decade ago with a time of 8:15.16 in Edmonton.
However a blustery wind didn't help and on the positive side, Kemboi's second success saw a Kenyan triumph for the fourth successive Championships.
Indeed if Saif Saeed Shaheen had not switched allegiance to Qatar eight years ago, it would have meant Athletics Kenya winning every Championship title since Franceso Panetta won on home soil in Rome in 1987.
The race began with Ruben Ramolefi who had lowered his South African record in the semi-finals taking on pace-making duties. He took the field through the first kilometre in 2:47.63 with Ugandan's Jacob Araptany and Benjamin Kiplagat in attendance.
Mekhissi-Benabbad - before the start of the race the European champion soaked his head in water - moved up from the middle of the pack with the Kenyan contingent sitting handily behind him.
The Ugandan's - Ramolefi drifted back to finish a disappointing 13th - without overstretching themselves shared the lead with Araptany definitely the more robust of the pair passing 2km in 5:33.42.
At this point all four Kenyan's Kemboi, Kipruto, Richard Mateelong the silver medallist from Berlin and Abraham Chirchir were beginning to get frisky, while Mekhissi-Benabaad was always on the fringes.
Araptany with 700m remaining did produce some significant speed but the expected medallists looked as fresh as daisies when passing the bell in 7:13.27 and preparing themselves for the charge ahead.
The Ugandan leader tried again with 300m left to really inject some pace and get away but to no effect. Then came Kemboi's deadly burst which saw the 2004 Olympic champion celebrating a second win and the future possibility of matching his fellow countryman Moses Kiptanui's three past victories.
Kemboi delighted the crowd when after getting off his knees he displayed a dancing technique which would put Usain Bolt to shame. Certainly his last 200m might even have surprised the World record holder.
* A Protest was filed by the French Team against Kenyan athlete Brimin KIPRUTO. The Jury of Appeal met and the protest was rejected. The final results stand.
Lauren Lee and David Martin for IAAF
- Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya won gold medal in the men's 3000 metres steeplechase final during day six (Getty Images) © Copyright