Easy qualification for Kenya’s three steeplers

By evelyn watta
Aug 13, 2016
  • Japanese Anju Takamizawa leads the women's steplechase heat one. Ruth Jebet(second) and Lyida Rotich of Kenya(fifth) qualified from this race.(Photo by Norman Katende)

RIO DE JANEIRO, Kenyan born Bahraini Ruth Jebet gave the Olympic crowds in Rio a sneak peek of what to expect in the women’s 3000m steeplechase final, after a breakneck run in the qualifying round on Saturday that almost cost former teammate Lydia Rotich.

It was a gun to tape lead for the 19-year old who has been in brilliant form this season wining her diamond league races in Stockholm and Eugene, as she swiftly went over the hurdles and water barriers in 9:12.62, the fastest of the day that had Lydia Rotich struggling home in fifth.

Rotich was relieved to qualify as one of the six fastest losers in 9:30.21 unimpressed by her rather slow run and ‘unexplained heaviness’ during the race.

“My body will determine how I will race in the final and how it will be, whether I will push the pace or wait and sprint like Eugene,”she said ahead of Monday’s final.

Jebet 11th in the world championships last year won by Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng who also looked in fine form in her heat where she qualified first in 9:24.61, readied for the scintillating final against the teenager who outsprinted her in Eugene.

Kiyeng survived a bunch up in the race involving Etenesh Diro of Ethiopia who had led through the three laps, who had to run half of the race with only one shoe on following a tumble.

Diro, fifth at the London Olympics, hurt her foot when she was forced off balance when the athletes got huddled at the back straight in the midway through the race Clearly struggling with her spikes, Diro stopped and took her right shoe off and then stopped again to throw a sock away before running the rest of the race with just one shoe on.

She collapsed on the track in tears after finishing seventh in the heat. The track and field governing body later reinstated her alongside Louise Sara of Ireland and Aisha Praught all who were caught up in the final.

Kenya’s Beatrice Chepkoech, the 2015 All Africa games bronze medallist was the fastest from heat two in 9:17.55 ahead of American Emma Coburn (9:18.12) and the defending Olympic champion Tunisian Habiba Ghribi who qualified third in 9:18.71.

Meanwhile Deputy president William Ruto visited the athletes at the Olympic village on Saturday where he assured the team of the government’s full support in their sporting endeavours.

Ruto was in the stadium on Friday to watch the women’s 10000m final where Vivian Cheruiyot picked silver behind Almaz Ayana. He will be at the Olympic stadium built for the 2007 Pan American games which is the home field of the Botafogo football club. The DP will leave Brazil on Sunday.