|Conseslus Kipruto after defending his world title in Doha|
Since the IAAF world championships in 1991, Kenyans have continuously won world titles in the men’s 3000m steeplechase event. Except that it was rather a Kenyan-born, Stephen Cherono, renamed Saif Shaheen while representing Qatar, in 2003 and 2005.
This was going to be the 15th consecutive title that a Kenyan born was going to win at the world championships, and the task to do that largely lied on Conseslus Kipruto. Kipruto had been struggling with an injury earlier in the season and it was not yet clear whether he had been able to fully recover in time to be in the right form to defend his title. It was in an exclusive interview with RunBlogRun in July that Kipruto had announced that his injury had gone and that he was finally feeling ready to train for the championships.
During the heats, Kipruto had
Just like in the men’s 5000m race in which the Ethiopians took to the front and set a fast pace that resulted in them winning the first two positions in that race, it was as though they had the same idea for the steeplechase race. Kipruto stayed with the three Ethiopians at the front. Soufiane El Bakkali came to the front as they approached the bell and led almost up to the last 200m when Lamecha Girma suddenly made a move that surprised everyone as he sprinted for the finish line. Kipruto reacted and went after him just to edge him in a photo-finish at the finish line.
The results came out shortly and Kipruto could hardly contain the excitement. He found himself sitting on top of a barrier, went around hugging his teammates before removing his singlet and throwing it on the ground. He had defended his title in a world-leading time of 8:01.35, 0.01 seconds ahead of Girma with El Bakkali taking the bronze medal in 8:03.76.
This was the third time that Kipruto had made sure that the Kenyan winning tradition in the men’s steeplechase was maintained after doing it at the 2017 world championships and also at the Rio Olympic Games.