BERLIN, August 13 – Kenyan steeplechasers are confident they will contain rising Frenchman Mekhissi Benabbad and retain their stranglehold in the water and barriers race.
The 23 year old won silver at last year’s Beijing Olympic Games and has been in fine form this season but speaking after a morning workout in downtown Berlin, World silver medallist Ezekiel Kemboi says that they will plot as a team to ensure that they win the race.
“He will disturb us if we do not plan. But if we plan, we will tackle him. We are planning as Kenyans to ensure that we control that race. There is even a chance of 1-2-3-4 but as you know, championships are a game of mathematics so we will have to calculate well.”
His sentiments were echoed by Olympic 2004 bronze medallist Paul Kipsiele Koech.
“We are four Kenyans and in championships there could be an athlete who comes from nowhere and give us problems but we must plan as a team for our race well and not risk anything,” said Kipsiele.
Despite being the top ranked steeplechaser over the last four years, Kipsiele is back in the team after a five year hiatus and this only after being handed a wild card.
“I am happy to be back because i have been missing for the last few years. This is my best time to perform well. I can say that I am happy with the chance to be in the team and will make use of the chance.”
For his part, Kemboi will be hoping its fourth time lucky after three silvers at the alst three world championships. But the former Olympic gold medallist is keeping cards close to his chest
“My preparations are coming on well and I am just waiting for the heats on Sunday and after that we will know how the final will be. I have three silvers but I don’t know about this year,” he said.
“Everything about Berlin is good even the food. Am used to it because I always stay in Europe but in Beijing I had issues with the food so this time I am so careful what to eat , what not to eat, and I think am ready,” Kemboi observed.
The duo had a falling out in Nairobi after last year’s trials but have since then made peace with each other.
“Kipsiele is one of my toughest opponent but we are good friends and that why we are training together,” said Kemboi.
“In sports sometimes, one might hurt each other by coincidence but as human beings you have to forgive one another and in a championships we are in the Kenyan team and must work hard and forget all issues from last year,” said Kipsiele.