Ezekiel Kemboi underlined his status as one of the great Kenyan athletes by capturing the world championship 3,000 metres steeplechase crown for a record fourth time on Monday.
The 33-year-old seized the gold medal thanks to a devastating sub 57-second last-lap burst at the Bird’s Nest Stadium. Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta immediately congratulated the athlete who is a police office back home.
Kenya secured their first clean sweep in the event for eight years but the anticipated challenge from Evan Jager faded on the final lap as the American was unable to match the speed of the Africans and trailed home sixth.
Kemboi, who clocked eight minutes 11.28 seconds, added the title to those he won in 2009, 2011 and 2013 and to the Olympic gold he landed in 2004 and 2012.
Silver went to Conseslus Kipruto, who did much of the pacesetting and hung on to finish in 8:12.38, while Brimin Kiprop came third in 8:12.54. Another Kenyan, 2015 world rankings leader Jairus Birech, was fourth in 8:12.62.
The prospect of an athlete challenging the Kenyan monopoly in this event, 12 previous world champions were born in the African country, improved when Jager was runner-up at a Diamond League meeting in Paris last month.
However, the relatively modest early pace did not suit the rangy American on Monday. While Kipruto did much of the hard work up at the front, Kemboi hardly moved from the back of the leading quintet until the bell sounded for the final lap.
Jager surged on to the shoulder of Kipruto but, down the back straight, Kemboi overtook all his rivals before producing one of his trademark victory dances after crossing the line.
Meanwhile, Vivian Cheruiyot won a thrilling last lap sprint to claim the women’s 10,000 metres gold medal on Monday, capping her comeback season with her second world title in the longest track event.
The 31-year-old, who took 2014 off to have a child, hit the front with 300 metres to go and powered her way to victory in 31 minutes, 41.31 seconds to reclaim the title she won as part of a 5,000-10,000 double at the 2011 world championships in Daegu.
Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka stayed with Cheruiyot when the Kenyan sprinted away on the back straight but could not handle the pace down the final straight and had to settle for silver in 31.41.77. -REUTERS