BERLIN, August 18 – Ezekiel Kemboi gave Kenya its second gold medal at the ongoing World Athletics Championships in Germany when he led compatriot Richard Mateelong to a 1-2 finish in the men’s 3,000 metres final.
A three time silver winner at the worlds, Kemboi won in a championship record of 8:00.43 with Mateelong setting a new personal best of 8:00.89.
Frenchman Bouabdellah Tahri prevented a clean sweep by taking bronze in 8:01.18 just ahead of the third Kenyan Paul Kipsiele Koech who was fourth in a seasonal best time of 8:01.26.
Reigning champion Brimin Kipruto finished seventh in 8:12.61.
“It’s my time to celebrate, that is why went to dance with Mateelong. After three silvers in a row in 2003, 2005, 2007 at the World championships and now I have won gold and am a great man,” said Kemboi minutes after the race.
Kemboi was in the race from the very start moving into the lead after first lap with Paul Kipsiele Koech joining him as they set about winning Kenya’s speciality.
The leading group was reduced to five with four laps to go and with two to go, Kipruto was dropped unable to keep up with the relentless pace.
Kemboi made his move at the bell before accelerating away on the back straight, a clean clearance at the water jump increased his lead going on to win in a new championship record.
“I am delighted to win, the race was very tough. To run 8:00 was very hard and even Mateelong set a new personal best. We had to have our tactics in place and we succeeded. If we hadn’t done that then we would have lost it,” he added.
Behind him Mateelong upgraded on his bronze in Osaka two years ago winning silver.
“I have not only won silver, but I have improved my personal best. I wanted gold but it went to Kenya and my friend got it so am happy. We were really worried about this French guy because he was looking really strong in the heats and has run 8:02 so we worked hard to eliminate him though he got away with bronze,” said Mateelong.
Afterwards, Kemboi said he was thinking of shifting to marathon.
“In the next two years I will move up to marathon. I have run steeplechase for eight years and I think I need to change because what I was missing was gold and now I have got it,” he said.