Best race: World Championships, Paris 2003
ELEVEN days earlier, Kenya’s Commonwealth steeplechase champion Stephen Cherono – now Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Qatar – had beaten the Kenyan champion Ezekiel Kemboi by one hundredth of a second. The rematch was another superb race.
Shaheen blasted off with a sub-60 first lap and was well inside world record pace at 1000m in 2:36.24 as he led by 30 metres but he began to slow and Kemboi surged to catch him as the pair passed 2000m in 5:19.16, which was still faster than during Brahim Boulami’s world record.
However the pair virtually slowed to a jog and this allowed three athletes to catch up, including the home crowd’s favourite Bouabdellah Tahri and five went through the bell before Kemboi sprinted wildly down the back straight and then Shaheen surged past. Kemboi went back past over the final barrier but the Qatari found one last kick to beat the Kenyan.
Result: 1 Saif Saaeed Shaheen (QAT) 8:04.39; 2 Ezekiel Kemboi (KEN) 8:05.11; 3 Eliseo Martin (ESP) 8:09.09; 4 Bouabdellah Tahri (FRA) 8:10.65; 5 Abraham Cherono (KEN) 8:13.37; 6 Luis Martin (ESP) 8:13.52; 7 Simon Vroeman (NED) 8:13.71; 8 Jose Blanco (ESP) 8:17.16; 9 Juska Keskisalo (FIN) 8:17.72; 10 Ali Ezzine (MAR) 8:19.15
Saif Saaeed Shaheen: victory in classic 2003 world final