Kipruto wins steeplechase, Bett bags bronze for Rudisha

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Aug 09, 2017
  • Conseslus Kipruto added the World Championship gold to his Olympic Medal. (Photo Courtesy of Getty Images for IAAF)

  • Kipyegon Bett dedicated his 800m bronze to last year’s champion David Rudisha who withdrew from the event because of injury. (Photo Courtesy Getty Images for IAAF)

The Kenya national anthem was played for the third time at the London Olympic Stadium in honor of Conselsus Kipruto who defied an ankle injury to win the men’s 3000m steeplechase.

Kipruto who overcame an ankle injury which saw him skip the IAAF Diamond Leagues in Rabat (Morocco) and Monaco clocked 8:14.12 ahead of Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali, 8:14.49 and American Evan Jager 8:15.53.

The world championship medal adds to Kipruto’s Olympic gold and kept a long tradition of Kenya’s grip on the discipline.

Kenya has won 11 of the past 15 past editions of the IAAF World Championships and enjoyed a clean sweep of medals in 2015.

It may have been the first IAAF World Championships men’s 3000m steeplechase since 2003 when three countries have been represented on the podium.

Kipruto and his Kenyan teammate – two-time Diamond Trophy winner Jairus Birech – led the field out, with the US champion Jager tracking every move in the third.

At the 1000m mark – reached in 2:51.81 – the Ethiopian trio of Tesfaye Deriba, TEfase Seboka and Getnet Wale took over at the front ahead of Kipruto and Jager, with 17-year-old Ugandan Albert Chemutai close behind.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s defending champion Ezekiel Kemboi – running for his fifth consecutive world title – was moving up through the field, along with Chemutai’s Ugandan teammate Jacob Araptany, who subsequently stopped to re-attach his shoe and dropped back to 14th and last in 8:49.18.

USA v the might of Africa showdown

When world leader Jager took up the running four laps out with the Kenyan trio and Elbakkali – who has two 8:05 clockings to his name in 2017 – lined up behind him, it was clear it was going to be something of a USA v the might of Africa showdown.

After passing 2000m in 5:35.46, Birech was the first to crumble, as Kemboi also became detached 700m from the finish, leaving Jager, Kipruto and Elbakkali – the fastest three in the world this year – to battle it our for the medals.

Kipruto made his move on the back straight of the final lap. Although he was caught on the water jump, the Kenyan proved too strong for his rivals, breaking clear on the home straight.

The 22-year-old made sure he enjoyed his first IAAF World Championships triumph too, having taken silver in 2013 and again in 2015 when he broke his shoe on the final lap, gesturing to the crowd as he approached the finish line.

"I used my plans well and last night for morale I told myself: ‘I am Olympic champion and that others must break me’,” explained the winner.

“There are others who are strong, but I knew if the race was around 8:10 that I was going to win."

After placing fourth at the Olympic Games last year, 21-year-old Elbakkali took his first global championships medal, while Jager became the first US steeplechaser to collect a World Championships medal in third.

“I ran it the way I thought would give me the best opportunity at winning, by taking it out,” said Jager.

“After silver last year in Rio, I wanted that upgrade to the gold this time around, but I’m really happy to be on the podium.”

Three-time Olympic medallist and twice world medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi of France finished strongly for fourth in 8:15.80, ultimately less than three tenths behind a fading Jager.

Some distance behind, Jager’s US teammate Stanley Kebenei (8:21.09) pipped Canada’s Matthew Hughes, who recorded a season’s best of 8:21.84 in sixth.

The Ethiopian trio placed seventh to ninth, with Chemutai 10th and Kemboi and Birech fading to 11th and 12th respectively. 2014 European champion Yoann Kowal finished 13th, having lost ground due to a fall.

Bett wins 800m Bronze

In the 800m final which was won by Pierre-Ambroise Bosse (France), Kenya’s Kipyegon Bett, the reigning world U20 champion – and still a junior – held on for the bronze medal in 1:45.21 ahead of youngster Kyle Langford.

"I was thinking about David Rudisha before the race and was hoping for any medal because of him," said Bett.

Bosse claimed the gold medal with a masterful last 200 metres. "Am I dreaming?" he asked rhetorically during the in-stadium interview with Iwan Thomas.

The final went out as expected with Canada’s Brandon McBride – just as he did in the semifinal – assuming his customary position at the front, towing as already strung out field through the bell in 50,78 ahead of pre-race favourites Nijel Amos from Amos from Botswana and Kipyegon Bett. Bosse was sixth at this point, running the shortest line on the inside.

McBride ran a hard race to qualify for the final and the front-runner began to fade down the back straight as Bosse, who has made the last three global finals, hit the front with almost exactly 200 metres remaining.

Looking every bit as majestic as the reigning champion David Rudisha did in his pomp, Bett and Amos – limbs flailing everywhere – desperately led the chase but Adam Kszczot missed the break altogether and was still seventh as Bosse forged into the lead.

"I could have started to speed up a bit sooner. I lost contact and that cost me the gold," lamented Kszczot.

A gambler

Cheered bo from the in-field by his long-time teammate Renaud Lavillenie who was contesting the pole vault final around the top bend, Bosse kept his form magnificently down the home strait, crossing the finish-line in a season’s best of 1:44.67 for his first victory of the season.

"I am a gambler, I love going to the casino. And today I just gambled, I put everything on the red, even my last Euro," said Bosse, alluding to that audacious move in the last 200 metres. "I achieved this victory with a lot of determination: It was with my mind, not with my legs and not with strength."

Kszczot was finishing like a dervish but the Pole, who passed five athletes down the home straight, ultimately ran out of track but the reighong European indoor and outdoor champion added another silver medal from the World Championship to his burgeoning collection – setting a season’s best of 1:44.95 in the process.