NAIROBI, August 16 – Africa record holder Jason Dunford finished fifth in the Olympic 100 butterfly final while the Kenyan 3,000 metres steeplechase trio made the final in day two of the athletics programme at the Olympic Games in Beijing early Saturday.
The multi African gold medallist timed 51.47 seconds in his first Olympic final as United Sates Michael Phleps won his seventh gold medal of the games. Starting in lane two, Dunford swam the race of his life to post his best ever result in his favourite stroke.
Meanwhile, Kenyans are heavy favourites to win the 3,000 metres steeplechase and they lived upto their billing by easing through to Monday’s final.
World champion Brimin Kipruto was the first Kenyan on show finishing second in heat two in 8:23.53. The 22 year old qualified comfortably in a heat won by Frenchman Tahri Boubdellah.
Olympic defending champion Ezekiel Kemboi started heat two 40 metres behind the rest of field. But the veteran steeplechaser slowly brought himself back into the race reducing the gap to ten metres in the following two laps.
With 1,000 metres to go, Kemboi was in third place and despite dropping to fourth at the bell, the defending champion was still good enough for a place in the final in a time of 8:17.55.
Africa champion Richard Mateelong who is an instructor at the Kiganjo Police Training College had the most comfortable qualifying round. The second fastest man in the world this year started slowly hanging at the back of the leading pack.
He shifted through the gears with two laps to go moving up to third and in the last lap he put a strong back straight before slowing down almost to a stop in the final ten metres to finish second in 8:19.87 in a heat won by Uganda’s Benjamin Kiplagat.
The trio will now line up in Monday’s final as Kenya seeks to win its sixth straight gold medal in the distance.
World champion Janeth Jepkosgei and World junior record holder Pamela Jelimo will be in action in the women’s 800 metres semifinal. Jelimo will be in heat three with Cuba’s Zulia Cataluyd and Hasna Benhassi of Morocco her stiffest challengers.
Jepkosgei will be in the third and final semifinal heat with Jamaica’s Kenia Sinclair and Yuliya Krevsun providing the main opposition.