NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 17 – Conseslus Kipruto stunned four-time world champion Ezekiel Kemboi to win his first Olympic gold in the men’s 3000m steeplechase in the breathtaking race held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Wednesday.
The win saw Kenya extend its remarkable winning streak in the event, stretching the dominance to nine straight wins at the Olympic Games stretching back to 1988.
Conseslus, who is the fastest man in the even this season produced a jaw-dropping performance, where he led the pack for the better part of the race before accelerating at the bell to cross the finish line way ahead in an Olympic Record of 8:03.28.
Kemboi, 34, a pre-race favourite and defending champion contended for bronze in what seems to be his last Olympics after being overtaken on the home straight by American Evan Jager as the Kenyan king of steeplechase clocked as season’s best of 8:08.47.
Jager, who stuck behind Conseslus Kipruto from the gun, ensured there will be no podium sweep for Kenya as he gave USA silver in a season’s best of 8:04.28.
Other Kenyan in the race Brimin Kipruto, who won Bronze at the London 2012 Games faded to seventh in 8:18.79 while Frenchman Mahiedine Mekhissi, who won silver four years ago finished outside the medal bracket in fourth place (8:11.52)
It was Kenya’s fourth gold in Rio, as the class of 2012 already surpassed the two golds the country won in London even as the men’s 1500m and men’s marathon await in what is another probable glory.
“I saw the screen and I saw I was far from them and I knew nobody was going to catch me. I knew I was going to win the gold in the final 100m,” said Kipruto.
“In Kenya we love steeple and that’s why we win! Even though today, we had an American who took silver.”
Two-time Olympic champion Kemboi, promptly brought the curtain down on his illustrious career.
“The Rio 3000m steeplechase was my last race after a long career of 18 years,” Kemboi said.
Kipruto admitted he had been worried about Kemboi, whom he said had already passed on the baton.
“I was ready to beat him today. I’ve been a good competitor for him and he already told me to take over the steeple so I’m so happy about that,” said Kipruto.
Conseslus Kipruto took up the early running in scorching heat at the Olympic Stadium, Jager happy to take over for a couple of laps before surging with two laps to run.
Kemboi tracked the American, moving into second with Conseslus Kipruto, the world silver medallist and has won all five Diamond League outings this year, also threatening.
In temperatures hitting 36 degrees Celsius, the field had strung out before the bell went for the final lap, Kipruto exploding down the back straight to build up what proved to be an unassailable lead.
Coming into the home stretch, Kipruto cast a glance back over his shoulders before stretching out his arms as he crossed the line for a comprehensive win.
Jager, sixth at both the Beijing and London Games, produced one last spurt to overtake a fast-fading Kemboi for silver, the Kenyan left with a bronze to add to his amazing medal tally. It was the United States’ first medal in the men’s steeplechase since 1984.
Kenya, who have swept the medals twice in that time (1992, 2004), have also taken at least two of the three medals on offer at every Olympics since that streak started.