For­mer cham­pion Kem­boi bids farewell to steeple­chase

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

LON­DON — Kenya’s four­time world cham­pion Ezekiel Kem­boi said Tues­day’s fi­nal that saw him finish 11th would be his last out­ing in the 3,000m steeple­chase.

Although he has pre­vi­ously back­tracked on dec­la­ra­tions to quit the event that he has dom­i­nated for more than a decade, Kem­boi, 35, said he means it this time.

“This was my last steeple­chase race. You will never see me run the race again,” said the man who had won the pre­vi­ous four world ti­tles and fin­ished sec­ond in the three be­fore that.

“I am launch­ing my road race ca­reer in two weeks with a 10km road race, a half marathon in De­cem­ber and a full marathon in April next year,” he said.

Kem­boi was in con­tention un­til the fi­nal lap but could not re­spond when com­pa­triot and Olympic cham­pion Cons­es­lus Kipruto ac­cel­er­ated and went on to win in 8:14.12.

Morocco’s Soufi­ane El­bakkali took silver and Amer­i­can Evan Jager bronze as Kem­boi went back­wards and recorded his worst finish in a ma­jor steeple­chase.

“I am not dis­ap­pointed. Con­trary to many peo­ples’ opin­ion, I am happy to be here in Lon­don for my eighth world cham­pi­onships,” he said.

Not many ath­letes are blessed with such stay­ing power. Kipruto was less than 10 years old when he won his first steeple­chase.

Although Kipruto’s vic­tory main­tained Kenya’s as­ton­ish­ing dom­i­nance of the gru­el­ing event, he said it was not guar­an­teed to con­tinue.

“You can no longer say this is a Kenyan race. Prob­a­bly we will need new coach­ing tech­niques and tac­tics, we need to mod­ify our coach­ing to re­turn to where we were,” he said.

Kem­boi won his first ma­jor medal at the 2002 Com­mon- wealth Games, where he took silver, and went on to take Olympic gold in 2004 and 2012.

He was a silver medal­ist at the Bei­jing worlds two years ago and Olympic cham­pion in Rio last year. He briefly took the lead with less than 300 me­ters re­main­ing on Tues­day, but was un­able to hold it as ri­vals surged past.

Kenya has now won 12 out of the 15 edi­tions of the race in world cham­pi­onships his­tory.

“I’m happy to be world cham­pion. Last year I be­came Olympic cham­pion and this year to be world cham­pion was my hope,” Kipruto told re­porters.

“I used my plans well and last night for morale I told my­self: ‘I am Olympic cham­pion and that oth­ers must break me’. I knew if the race was around 8:10 that I was go­ing to win.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.