Team Kenya captain Ezekiel Kemboi led from the front by winning his fourth consecutive and seventh straight medal in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.
Kenya got a clean sweep of the medals for the third time ever in this event and also filled the first four places, a feat only achieved twice before – by the USA in the 2005 men’s 200m and Ethiopia in the women’s 5000m the same year – in IAAF World Championships history.
At the last lap, the quartet of Kenyans started to leave behind US hope and North American record holder Evan Jager and the rest of the field and now the question was, just who of the four was going to miss a medal.
Kemboi had an explosive last lap, kicking from 300m with only Conseslus Kipruto responding to the burst of speed, albeit late.
At 33, the oldest man in the field, crossed the line in a time of 8:11.28, before pointing at his head with both hands to indicate that he was still the boss in the water, barrier and jump event.
“Today was all about strategy and timing. As you I’m the grandmaster of steeplechase, and I have proved it today. These boys don’t want to take over, I’m yet to see one that I will hand over the mantle to,” said Kemboi at the finish line.
The 21 year old, Conselsus Kipruto, secured his second successive silver medal by clocking 8:12.38 while the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medalist Brimin Kipruto settled for bronze.
“Im so happy. I missed out in 2009 and 2011. Im so proud to be back on the podium. And winning all three medals for Kenya is just great,” Kipruto beamed as his management team joined in the celebration at the mixed zone.
Race favourite, Jairus Birech, the fastest man in the world for the last two years and 2014 Diamond Race winner, was edged out of the medals bracket by finishing in fourth place.
“Im very disappointed. I did not expect to miss a medal, because I had prayed for a podium finish at the very least. I had a slight headache that subsided just a little bit before the race. They I almost missed the second last barrier which disrupted my momentum towards the finish line,” said Birech.