2011 Worlds Steeplechase Prelims: Favorites Advance and Americans Struggle
August 29, 2011
Daegu, South Korea
In the prelims on Monday morning in Daegu, South Korea, all of the favorites advanced to the final of the men's steeplechase, including Olympic and World Champions Ezekiel Kemboi who ran a fast 8:10.93 in his first round heat.
All 3 Americans had subpar races and failed to advance. Dan Huling had the most interesting comments after the race as he hinted at some troubles off the track that have limited him this year. Recap, commentary, and interviews below. Note the top 4 in each heat and the next 3 fastest times made the final.
Heat 1: Uganda's Jacob Araptany Hoping to Make a Name for Himself
Jacob Araptany and unheralded Ugandan with an 8:15 pr, took over this race with less than four laps to go. He broke open the pack and would run largely uncontested to the finish as things played out behind him. There was no doubt who the top 4 were in this one as the Olympic silver medallist France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbadi, 2009 World Champs silver medallist Richard Mateelong and Moldova's Ion Luchianov advanced.
Afterwards Araptany said he hopes to break through in the final to challenge the 3 Kenyan stars in the final. Billy Nelson was disappointed with his race and will likely race in Zurich but overall was pleased to pr this year (8:17.27) and win the USA Champs as he got his career going back in an upward direction.
|1||1029||Jacob Araptany||UGA||8:18.57 Q|
|2||415||Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad||FRA||8:23.71 Q|
|3||659||Richard Kipkemboi Mateelong||KEN||8:23.76 Q|
|4||755||Ion Luchianov||MDA||8:23.88 Q||(SB)|
|6||1018||Amor Ben Yahia||TUN||8:30.02||(PB)|
|7||873||Abubaker Ali Kamal||QAT||8:30.37|
Jacob Araptany Hoping for a Breakthrough in the Final
Billy Nelson Still Pleased with His Season
Heat 2: Ruben Ramolefi Makes It a Fast One, Dan Huling Talks About Some
Despite the warm and muggy conditions (82 °F and 70% humidity) South Africa's Ruben Romelfi made this a very fast race. He pushed the pace in the early kilometers to make this possibly the fastest steeple prelim ever at Worlds.
Five guys were together on the final lap fighting for the four automatic spots. Olympic and World Champ Ezekiel Kemboi got the heat win in 8:10.93, Ramolefi was awarded with a pr of 8:11.50 (he had run 8:12 earlier this year), Morocco's Hamid Ezzine got a season's best and Ethiopia's Nahom Mesfin got a pb in 8:12.04.
That left France's Bouabdellah Tahri (bronze in 09) the odd man out in 8:13.22 but he'd easily advance to the final on time. Dan Huling, the 2010 US Champ who ran 8:13.29 last year but has only run 8:25.90 this year, ran 8:34 here.
Afterwards Huling was disappointed at wasting an opportunity to not only make the final but to run in a race that does not go out in 8 minute pace. He said, "The prelims are a great opportunity to run fast because they don't go out in 2:36 (for the first kilometer). I'm embarrassed, disappointed, a little bit relieved."
As for the relieved part, Huling then hinted at some problems off the track, "Just some things went on. I hate to be all coy about it. I just don't want it to be an excuse I ran poorly. I had something going on where I could do the things I needed to. I had two and half weeks after USAs. I was really fit, last year fit (when he prd) and then something happened and it's been emotional exhausting as well."
Huling is calling it a season. You can watch interviews with him and Kemboi below. Kemboi says, "I have to defend my (world) title at all costs."
|1||642||Ezekiel Kemboi||KEN||8:10.93 Q|
|2||897||Ruben Ramolefi||RSA||8:11.50 Q||(NR)|
|3||745||Hamid Ezzine||MAR||8:11.81 Q||(SB)|
|4||378||Nahom Mesfin||ETH||8:12.04 Q||(PB)|
|5||421||Bouabdellah Tahri||FRA||8:13.22 q|
|6||706||Ali Ahmed Al-Amri||KSA||8:26.75||(SB)|
|11||799||Bjørnar Ustad Kristensen||NOR||8:39.85|
Dan Huling On Some Struggles:
Heat 3: Abraham Chirchir Sneaks Into the Final
No huge surprises in heat 3 as Benjamin Kiplagat got the meaningless win and Olympic champ and favorite Brimin Kipruto (who ran 7:53.64 earlier this year) advanced as did Ethiopian Roba Gari and Portugal's Alberto Paula. Abraham Chirchir, who is only an 8:19 steepler and keeping sub 8 man off the Kenyan team, did what you expect an 8:19 guy to do in the heat, run 8:23.09. However, it was good enough to put him in the final. (Paul Koech if you're reading this, we wish you were here).
Kipruto did not want to talk about strategy for the final although he thought it was not possible for the Kenyans to run as a team. Ben Bruce, who was only 5th at USAs but made his first Worlds team here by hitting the "A" standard by running 8:19 in Barcelona, talked about getting experience at Worlds.
|1||1033||Benjamin Kiplagat||UGA||8:19.96 Q|
|2||369||Roba Gari||ETH||8:20.28 Q|
|3||647||Brimin Kiprop Kipruto||KEN||8:21.89 Q|
|4||860||Alberto Paulo||POR||8:22.41 Q||(PB)|
|5||641||Abraham Kipkirong Chirchir||KEN||8:23.09 q||(SB)|
|6||425||Vincent Zouaoui-Dandrieux||FRA||8:23.79 q|