Kenyans were left again pondering what could have wrong in their ‘traditional race’ the women’s 3000m steeplechase failed to beat Yuliya Zaripova’s pace that earned the Russian the gold.
Zaripova, the world champion and silver medallist from Berlin controlled the run from start to finish crossing the line in 9:06.72 in a world lead of 9:06.72 also her personal best in rather cold conditions Monday at the Olympic Stadium.
"It was easy for me to win this gold,” the Russian said. “ I run in third, then fourth, then fifth gear. Technically, I executed the race well.”
A seemingly struggling Milcah Chemos lost to Ethiopian Sofia Assefa in the rush for bronze behind Tunisian Habiba Ghribi, who earned her second career silver after Daegu with a 9:08.37 run a National record.
“I did think at one point I could win a gold medal but I had an injury at the beginning of the year so I had to get over that and get back to my level,”Ghribi said.
Chemos who came into the games as we the world leader at 9:07.14, managed to stop the clock at 9:09.88 as Assefa’s effort earned her country its first ever women’s steeplechase medal.
Kenyan Mercy Njoroge, the African champion dropped off to 10thh at 9:26.73.
“I can’t really explain what happened today on the track. I was fit and ready but I just got tired in the last lap and I couldn’t run my best, “Njoroge acknowledged.
Zaripova’s lead was never threatened as she confidently guided the field through the seven and a half lap race unlike her compatriot Gulnara Galkina,nowhere near her 2008 performance that earned her the gold in Beijing in a World record time stumbled out with about 800m remaining.
The Kenyan pair found themselves trying to stay in touch with Zaripova, the reigning European champion with Assefa and Ghribi staying within a touching distance.
But with about 600m to go Zaripova injected pace that forced the leading pack to break off into a single file.
Her final kick at the bend paid off as Ghribi raced past a slowing Chemos and Assefa for the silver.
The Kenyan fell further back and her last gasp effort in the home stretch was not enough as she writhed in pain at the finish line, lying on the ground before she was helped off the track by the medical staff, with a suspected injured foot.
Zaripova’s time was only the fourth best ever time in the women’s steeplechase.
Evelyn Watta in London
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