July 6, 2013
This race lived up to its hype. Ezekiel Kemboi, the 2004 and 2012 Olympic champion, was facing the 2008 and 2012 Olympic silver medallist and Frenchman, Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, before 50,000+ screaming French fans and there was a lot of talk about a great clash as well as a a sub-8:00 time (as well as the European record of 8:01.18).
In the end, there was a great last lap battle between Kemboi and Mekhissi-Benabbad and the sub-8:00 and sub-8:01.18 both occurred. Kemboi got the win in a world-leading 7:59.03 thanks to a great 58-flat last lap (58.24 leader-to-leader, but he was second at the bell) as Mekhissi-Benabbad broke the European record but just missed becoming the first non-African born runner under 8:00.00, as he ran 8:00.09.
This one came down to the final lap. Just before the bell, Mekhissi-Benabbad went from third to first as he took over the lead from Paul Kipsiele Koech of Kenya. Once passed, Koech was unable to respond and this soon became a two-person battle. Kemboi took off with 260m to go. Had he gone too soon? No.
He stuttered a little coming into the last barrier but had this one comfortably enough in hand to do his drift out into the outer lanes a little bit and celebrate as he likes to do. Kemboi wasn’t dominant like last year in London, when he ended up celebrating out in lane 8 – this was more of a lane three type of celebration. Plus this wasn’t a full celebration. This year he drifted out and tried to encourage Mahiedine behind him.
Mahiedine needed just a little more encouragement as he finished in 8:00.09, a European record but .10 short of becoming the first European sub-8:00. And after this was over, the charismatic Kemboi was happy to share the accolades with his French rival whom he’d helped take to the European record (see the picture on the right).
Kemboi, the reigning world champion, now goes back to Kenya to train and try to defend his title.
QT #1: This Was A Great Race Two Times Over
Rarely do you have a hyped rivalry that delivers and this one certainly did. Rarely do you have a quest for a time deliver and this one certainly did on that front as well.
QT #2: Kemboi Still Has More Global Titles Than Sub-8:00s
Kemboi is so good, it’s hard to believe he hasn’t run under 8:00 more. This was only his third sub-8:00. He has 4 World/Olympic titles and 3 sub-8:00s.
QT #3: We Got Criticized For Calling The Marseille-Born Mekhissi-Benabbad As European
An Algerian journalist came up to LRC’s Weldon Johnson (Wejo) in response to Wejo’s question yesterday about Mekhissi-Benabbad possibly becoming the fist sub-8:00 European. The journalist insisted that Mekhissi-Benabbad, who is of Algerian descent, isn’t European even though he was born in Europe.
This just shows that many people are proud of their ethnicity. Maybe we should stop trying to always be so politically correct?
To avoid talk of race, we often talk about “African-born” or “non-African born,” but maybe we should just be less afraid to state things more directly, like we did when Chris Solinsky ran 26:59 and we just flat out stated he was the first “white guy” to break 27:00. What do you think? Email us.
QT #4: Speaking Of Sub-8:00, There Probably Should Have Been Two Today
Mekhissi-Benabbad didn’t let up at the end but he didn’t lunge at the line and really go all out either or he likely would have been sub-8:00. Afterwards, he wasn’t too upset and was pretty happy with his performance.
“The European record was my objective so therefore I am very happy. However, I wanted to win,” said Mekhissi-Benabbad according to our translator, who is a student at Harvard. “I also wanted to break the 8:00 mark, which I hope I will do next time.”
QT#5: Paul Koech Still #2 On All-Time Sub-8:00 List
Koech could have tied Saif Shaheen at ten with the most number of sub-8:00 clockings. He stays at 9 after running 8:09.17 here. His last lap was only 68, whereas Kemboi ran 58.
QT#6: Post-Race Interview With Kemboi Below, Then Results
3,000 Metres Steeplechase - Men Pts 1 Kemboi , Ezekiel KEN 7:59.03 4 2 Mekhissi-Benabbad , Mahiedine FRA 8:00.09 2 3 Koech , Paul Kipsiele KEN 8:09.17 1 4 Gari , Roba ETH 8:12.22 5 Kiplagat , Benjamin UGA 8:13.07 6 Smaïl , Noureddine FRA 8:15.89 7 Ezzine , Hamid MAR 8:17.67 8 Kowal , Yoann FRA 8:20.41 9 Nganga , Bernard Mbugua KEN 8:22.68 10 Martos , Sebastián ESP 8:23.10 11 Mullera , Ángel ESP 8:23.39 12 Toroitich , Timothy UGA 8:25.32 13 Zerrifi , Abdelhamid ALG 8:25.96 14 Szymkowiak , Tomasz POL 8:27.40 15 Parszczynski , Lukasz POL 8:32.76 Araptany , Jacob UGA DNF Lagat , Haron KEN DNF 1,000m: Lagat, Haron (KEN) 2:39.60 2,000m: Koech, Paul Kipsiele (KEN) 5:21.10