Athletics: Kipruto storms to steeplechase gold

Wed Aug 17, 2016 9:04pm EDT
 
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By Drazen Jorgic

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Kenya's Conseslus Kipruto stormed to an Olympic record breaking victory in the men's 3,000 meters steeplechase on Wednesday, ensuring the East African nation maintained its iron grip on an event it has monopolized since 1984.

The 21-year-old had long been touted as the heir to Kenya's steeplechase crown and made good on those predictions with a blistering final-lap sprint that carried him to gold in an Olympic best time of eight minutes 3.28 seconds.

A winner of two world championship silver medals, Kipruto was so far ahead of his rivals that he started celebrating and waving to the crowd when he entered the final straight.

"Even before the race I knew I would win," said Kipruto, who revealed he had suffered a calf injury days earlier.

The victory was the first in a major competition for Kipruto over Kenya's double Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi, who announced his retirement after initially finishing third but was subsequently disqualified for stepping out of his lane.

Prior to that decision, Kipruto thanked 34-year-old Kemboi for inspiring him over the years and promised to work hard to ensure Kenya maintained its record of winning consecutive Olympic gold medals in the steeplechase.

"I'm ready to take up the mantle," Kipruto said.

The African nation has now won every 3,000m steeplechase final it has competed in since 1968, having boycotted the 1976 and 1980 Olympics for political reasons.   Continued...

 
Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya gestures as he crosses the finish line to win the gold in the men's 3000m steeplechase. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado