Gold rush for Kenya

August 18, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, August 18 – World Champion Brimin Kipruto continued Kenya’s golden streak in steeplechase while Pamela Jelimo heralded a new one in 800 metres as the national team’s Olympic challenge burst to life on Monday.

Kipruto applied a devastating finishing kick to win the men’s 3,000 metres steeplechase in 8:10.34 and give Kenya her seventh straight gold medal in the race at the Olympics.

Minutes later, 18 year old Jelimo’s amazing debut season continued when she won the 800 metres crown in 1:54.87, becoming the first Kenyan woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

Just like in Osaka at the World Championships last year, Kenyan athletes set the stadium alight with two barnstorming races reminding everyone of their superiority in track and field.

The men’s steeplechase was first up with the 23 year old Kipruto timing his race to perfection; shifting through the gears in the final 200 metres before finally taking the lead after the last barrier to give Kenya her first gold medal at the 29th Olympics.

The win saw Kipruto become only the second man to hold both the World and Olympic titles after 2000 Olympic champion Reuben Kosgei.

Africa champion Richard Mateelong won bronze in 8:11:01 while defending champion Ezekiel Kemboi was sixth in 8:16:38 paying dearly for his pacesetting earlier in the race.

Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad of France split up an expected Kenyan sweep, taking silver in 8:10.49.

Then it was Jelimo’s turn and she did not disappoint with a confident win that blew away the rest of the field.

The teenager took the lead at the bell ands sped away on the back straight to win and continue her amazing season in which she has set the six fastest times in the world.

She also set a new personal best time which is a new World Junior record as well as an African and national record. World Champion Janeth Jepkosgei won silver in 1:56.07.

Kenya continues her charge for medals on Tuesday with the men’s 1500 metres final. All Africa Games champion Asbel Kiprop has been in impressive form all season and easily winning both his heats and looks a good prospect.

He will have Commonwealth champion Augustine Choge for company. Choge was in great form at the trials and at the Paris Golden League meet but has struggled in each of his heats desperately lunging for the line in semifinal to sneak through in fourth.

They duo will face tough challenge from Bahrain’s Rashid Ramzi, Mehdi Baala, Belal Mansoor Ali and Andrew Baddeley.



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