James Magayi @magayijim
Twenty five year-old track athlete Benjamin Kigen was shocked more than the rest of the watching world when he fended off Olympic and World Champion Conseslus Kipruto to win the men’s 3,000m steeplechase at the third IAAF Diamond League leg in Eugene, Oregon, USA on Saturday.
Kigen, who had no previous laurel after four years of toiling on the tracks was astounded to emerge the winner at Hayward Field, leaving Kipruto and dreaded American Evan Jagger scrapping for second place.
Categorised among the also-rans, Kigen stayed in the middle of the park as American rabbits Haron Lagat and Stanley Kebenei set the pace with fairly fast splits over 200m all the way to the first 1,000m. Kipruto then assumed the lead role and crossed the 1,400m mark at 3:50.51.
The top rated Olympic champion led over the ensuing 400m, crossing the 1,800m point in 4:57.75 before Nicholas Kiptanui drove up the pace with a 1:06.47 lap score crossing over the 2,200m point with the clock reading 6:04.30.
Kigen then swung into action, assumed the lead and ran like his life depended on it. He clumsily cleared the final two barriers fearful of Kipruto reeling in on him and nearly tripped. There was, however, not much left in Kipruto to stage a comeback as Kigen had opened a 30-metre gap, crossing the finish line in a personal best of 8:09.07 for victory.
The hunt in Oregon went awry for Kenyan women as Genzebe Dibaba and Letesenbet Gidey pulled a 1-2 Ethiopian finish over 5,000m, relegating world champion Helen Obiri to the last podium position.
A strong Kenyan contingent in the race comprising former junior 3,000m gold medallist Lilian Kasait, former Africa Cross-Country winner Alice Aprot and Margaret Chelimo ran dismally and devoid of tact letting the Ethiopians control pace after rabbit Selah Jepleting had exited.