KEITH MCGHIE in gold coast
Conseslus Kipruto is World, Olympic and now Commonwealth 3,000m Steeplechase Champion after a devastating display by the Kenyan team in the Carrara Stadium Friday.
Kipruto led home the nation’s first clean sweep of medals with a commanding and almost insolent performance supported superbly by team-mates Abraham Kibiwott and Amos Kirui.
The gold medallist crossed the line in 8:10.08, smashing fellow countryman Jonathan Ndiku’s Games record from Glasgow 2014 by 0.36 seconds.
But it would surely have been more had 23-year-old Kipruto not played to the crowd, turning round and encouraging Kibiwott to take the runner-up spot down the home straight, with Kirui coming late to pip a brave but ultimately heartbroken Canadian Matthew Hughes for bronze.
Kipruto admitted: “I am so happy to have the Olympic, World and Commonwealth Championships and now hope to add the African and maybe Inter-Continental titles.
“I knew I had the race won and all I could think of over the last 100m was to help my team-mates, so I was cheering them on so as my country could be proud of us all.”
Ex-African Junior Champion Kibiwott recorded 8:10.62 for silver and it looked for most of the last lap that they would have to share the podium with Hughes, who was the only non-Kenyan to stay with the ruthless pace set for the gun.
Kirui, ranked sixth in the World last year, seemed to have cracked when falling away as the bell sounded for the last lap. But the Kenyan, just 20, staged a remarkable recovery, chasing down the Canadian and dramatically pipping him on the line by a mere 11 hundredths of a second.
“We planned to go off hard and break the,” explained a delighted Kirui. “I never gave up and knew I could get back and pass him with about 50 metres to go.”
Margaret Nyairera Wambui ran strongly to take silver in the women’s 800m but again had no answer to controversial South African powerhouse Caster Semenya who, almost effortlessly, completed a middle-distance double, having also taken the 1,500m crown on Tuesday.
Semenya, who has had to weather continued comments about her unusual testosterone levels, set off uncharacteristically fast, led through the bell in a fast 58.66 and slowly pulled clear, stopping the clock in a new Games record of 1:56.68.
Nyairera fended off a personal best-setting finish from Jamaica’s Natoya Goule for second place in a time of 1:58.07 Rodgers Kwemoi collected Kenya’s fifth medal of the night but had to settle for bronze in a season’s best 27:28.66 as Joshua Cheptegei continued Uganda’s domination of the men’s 10,000m to complete a double in the two longest track events.
Uganda have won every edition since 2002 when Wilberforce Talel won in Manchester for Kenya Mohammed Ahmed, from Canada, again took silver behind Games Record-setting Cheptegei (27:19.62), just as he had in the 5,000m earlier in the week. Kenya’s Jonathan Ndiku, who earlier had seen his 3,000m Steeplechase record broken, faded to finish eighth, whilst Josphat Bett was 10th.