Where Your Dreams Become Reality


Main Front Page

What's Let's Run.com?

SAVE ON SHOES

Training Advice

World Famous:
Message Board

Turn Back The Clock!
Today's Top Runners Talk About Their High School Careers

Opinions
Miler Scott Anderson's Journal

Wejo Speaks

Rojo Speaks

JK Speaks

LetsRun.com Privacy Policy

Contact Us

Advertise on LetsRun.com 
Click Here for More Info

 

LetsRun.com Berlin 2009: Men's Steeplechase A Scintillating Competition
 

Kemboi Gets The Glory As Koech Proves He Belongs
--
Frenchman Tahri Breaks Up Kenyan Sweep As Olympic Champ Kipruto Falters

By LetsRun.com
August 18, 2009
Berlin, Germany

 12th IAAF World Athletics Championships - Day Four
Victory Wasn't Easy For Kemboi

The 2009 World Championships men's steeplechase will certainly be remembered as one of the most intriguing steeple finals in a long while. Kenya's Ezekiel Kemboi (right) won the gold while teammate Richard Mateelong took the silver and Frenchman Bouabdellah Tahri struck bronze to disrupt the coveted Kenyan sweep. Paul Kipsiele Koech tried desperately to hold off Tahri but fell short by 0.08 seconds, while Olympic champion Brimin Kipruto could not conted up front and finished seventh. It was the tenth consecutive WC steeplechase win for the Kenyan men.

Kemboi won in a fantastic championship record 8:00.43 seconds, while fourth place was 8:01.26 for Koech. That's correct, 8:01.26 earned Koech only fourth place in this amazing final.

While most people will only treat the Kenyans as a pack, we want to explain why the end results were actually very interesting if you look at the Kenyans as individuals.

Before we go any farther, just take a look at the splits below for the kilometers and the final five laps.

Kilometer Splits
2:41.90
2:40.89 (5:22.79)
2:37.64 (8:00.43)

Final 5 Lap Splits (Koech Leading Most)
65.38
62.90
62.98
63.90
60.08 (4:09.9 for the final 4 laps; remember inside water pit)

The pace, the athleticism, the finishing speed ... all were absolutely phenomenal, especially for the top 4. In fact, fifth-placer Yacob Jarso (ETH) wasn't even close, a full ten seconds behind.

Basically the phenomenal pace was set by Paul Kipsiele Koech for most of the race, though South African Ruben Ramolefi deserves credit for the early laps before he crashed back to second-to-last at the finishing line (8:32). Koech stuck his neck out there, hoping to burn off the competition so he and his countrymen could sprint away for a 1-4 finish. But it was not to be.

Brimin Kipruto Was The Favorite
The announcers didn't mention this, but Kenyan Brimin Kipruto finishing in 7th is a big surprise. Not only was Kipruto the Kenyan Trials champion, he is also the reigning world and Olympic champion. While Koech was putting on the pressure up front, Kipruto normally would have been right there to kick home at the end. Without him, a tired but game Koech couldn't quite outkick Tahri for the sweep. People might single out Koech as the goat, but really Kipruto laid the biggest Kenyan egg while Koech was sort of left out to dry. Remember, Kipruto won the Kenyan Trials just a few weeks ago at altitude in Nairobi in 8:20. He could only manage 8:12 in Berlin.

Koech Narrowly Misses Medal Despite Unreal Effort
Kipsiele Koech's effort was remarkable. He has been one of the top steeplers in the world on the European and American professional circuit but has rarely even made the Kenyan team, prompting undue criticism. Despite running six times under 8:00 in his career, his best performance in a championship was his bronze medal in Athens in 2004.

His performance in Berlin in 2009 should be described as nothing short of heroic as he ran a seasonal best 8:01.26 while leading a majority of the race. Normally, 8:00 is a phenomenal time in a rabbited race. To run it while out front is amazing. Only 0.08 separated Koech from Tahri for the bronze and coveted Kenyan sweep, but Koech's performance proved that he can really perform on the big day.

Remarkably, this year at the Kenyan Trials, Koech was again disappointed, finishing only 6th in the Trials in 8:36 (the race was won in 8:20). He only was allowed on the team thanks to a wild card entry (the Kenyans had four spots to use).

The Two Kenyan Medalists Hardly A Surprise
Richard Mateelong came through again for the Kenyans to get second place. Of all the four Kenyans, Mateelong started the most easily. He waited for 4 or 5 laps before getting up with the front group. His patience may have paid off with some extra sprinting power at the end when it really mattered. Kipruto certainly couldn't stay up at the front. Mateelong is always solid, if rarely the big winner. He was just behind Kipruto at the Kenyan Trials in '09 and had already won bronze in Osaka and Beijing.

The fastest-ever Worlds or Olympic Games final (at least considering the top-four finishers) was won, however, by Ezekiel Kemboi. Kemboi, who was very entertaining in the post-race press appearance (watch to the right), has been a major force at these global championships for a long time. As he says, "In 2003 in Paris I was number two, silver. In 2005 in Helsinki I was again silver. In 2007 in Osaka I was again silver. So this year I say along with my coach Moses Kiptanui that I'm tired of silver."

Despite all this, his win was a bit of a surprise.

Kemboi hadn't been running very well recently. He was dropped by Kipruto and Mateelong at the Kenyan Trials by a full four seconds. In addition to getting drubbed at the Kenyan Trials, he also was beaten by two seconds by Olympic silver medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad in the Paris Golden league meet (who was plagued by injury in the 1st round in Berlin and didn't advance). Kemboi had run his seasonal best in Doha way back on May 8 and it looked like he was heading in the wrong direction, but he stepped it up big time. To be in such form to run 8:00.43 three-and-a-half months after running 7:58 is remarkable. His kick off of such a fast pace was phenomenal.

It was good to see Kemboi get his first World Championships gold and to see him come through this year on his guarantee for gold. Last year, Kemboi was the guy who famously said prior to not medalling at the Olympics the following: "I'm going to Beijing to defend my gold. If I don't win gold, I will never return to Kenya."

Thankfully for the Kenyans' sake, Kemboi did return to Kenya, as in 2009, he came through on his pre-race talk as last week he had said, "I'm tired of silver, silver, silver at World Championships! It is the only gold I do not have in my house."

The press conference with Kemboi was pretty entertaining so you might want to watch the clips above and below. In the longer clip above Kemboi talks about countries being good at certain events, "Steeplechase has been a Kenyan event but now it's worldwide ... But what I can say is this: You can go to the 200m and 400m and you get the Jamaicans and the Americans. But you cannot get an American in steeplechase ... In Kenya you cannot jump the long jump. And in Kenya you cannot run the 200 meters or 100 meters like Usain Bolt. Because if a Kenyan were to run maybe 12 seconds in the 100 meters, he would maybe be number 1,000. But when a Jamaican comes to the steeplechase he'd be like number 1,000. So you stay with your best, others stay with their best." Kemboi in the clip below talks about why he took off his shirt at the finish. This guy even got his haicut in a Nike swoosh and explains why here.

Tahri's Medal Not A Huge Surprise
Perhaps the biggest story will be the bronze of Bouabdellah Tahri of France. Many people will be very surprised to see this Frenchman break up the Kenyan sweep. But the stats show that he was ready for this honor. Take a look at how many times Tahri has come close to winning a medal before. We have a table of the Kenyans' and Tahri's global championships performances over the past 10 years or so.

Tahri joined Mateelong in setting personal bests in the race. Tahri's best is also a French national record.

Final v Runner >

Kemboi

Matelong

Tahri

Koech

Kipruto

09 Worlds

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

7th

'08 Olympics

7th

3rd

5th

DNQ

1st

'07 Worlds

2nd

3rd

5th

DNQ

1st

'06 W Cup

-

-

3rd

2nd

-

'05 Worlds

2nd

-

8th

7th

3rd

'04 Olympics

1st

-

7th

3rd

2nd

'03 Worlds

2nd

-

4th

-

-

'01 Worlds

-

-

5th

-

-

'99 Worlds

-

-

12th

-

-

Rare Kenyan Celebration
Ezekiel Kemboi was elated after his win. He took off his uniform singlet first and laid on the track. Then, upon getting up, he did some dancing, attempting to convince Mateelong to dance with him. In the video to the left, he explains to a writer how he felt and why he took off his shirt, saying, "After the last jump, what I saw was just the white lights. I never saw anybody because my eyes were going off. So I [took off my shirt]." Kemboi was getting a lot of laughs as he enjoyed his victory.

 

 

 

2009 Berlin World Championships Men's Steeplechase Final Results

1 724 Ezekiel Kemboi KEN 8:00.43 (CR)
2 736 Richard Kipkemboi Mateelong KEN 8:00.89 (PB)
3 479 Bouabdellah Tahri FRA 8:01.18 (AR)
4 733 Paul Kipsiele Koech KEN 8:01.26 (SB)
5 409 Yacob Jarso ETH 8:12.13 (PB)
6 406 Roba Gary ETH 8:12.40
7 728 Brimin Kiprop Kipruto KEN 8:12.61
8 425 Jukka Keskisalo FIN 8:14.47
9 370 Eliseo Martín ESP 8:16.51 (SB)
10 236 Tareq Mubarak Taher BRN 8:17.08
11 1131 Benjamin Kiplagat UGA 8:17.82
12 955 Abubaker Ali Kamal QAT 8:19.72
13 973 Ruben Ramolefi RSA 8:32.54
14 1081 Mustafa Mohamed SWE 8:35.77
803 Jamel Chatbi MAR DNS

 

            
  

Tell a friend about this article
(Dont worry we won't email your friend(s) again. We send them a 1 time email)
Enter their email address(es), separated by a comma.
Enter your name:

Don't Worry: We
Back to Main Front Page
Questions, comments or suggestions?Please email the LetsRun.com staff at [email protected]



Save on Running Shoes


Runner's World &
Running Times


Combined Only $22

a Year
Save $87



Running & Track and Field Posters


Search the Web
or LetsRun.com
Google

Web

LetsRun.com


Advertise on LetsRun.com

Contact Us

Privacy Policy

'