October 1, 2019
DOHA, Qatar — The big storyline coming out of the men’s steeplechase preliminaries this evening at the 2019 IAAF Worlds Athletics Championships: discount 2016 Olympic and 2017 world champ Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya at your own peril. Kipruto, who came into Worlds having dropped out of as many steeplechase as he’s finished this year (2) and not having run faster than 8:13, looked fantastic in winning heat #3 in 8:19.20.
Kipruto was full of run, so much so that he pointed to Kenyan fans in the crowd with half a lap to go and then asked compatriot Benjamin Kigen to celebrate with him with 100 meters remaining. As Muktar Edris showed us yesterday in the men’s 5000, sometimes it’s hard to knock the king off of his throne even if he didn’t have a secure grip on things earlier in the year. All that matters is the biggest battle of the year.
Kipruto will be joined in the final by three other Kenyans as all four Kenyans automatically qualified for the final, along with all three Americans. For Team USA, only US champ Hillary Bor was an auto qualifier (3rd heat #3 in 8:20.67) but Andy Bayer (4th heat #4 in 8:18.66) and Stanley Kebenei (6th heat #1 in 8:19.02) both got into the final as one of the six time qualifiers.
The top 10 seeds based on seasonal best time all advanced to Friday’s final. The biggest casualty of the day was #11 seed Takele Nigate of Ethiopia, the 2018 world junior champ, who fell twice in heat #3 and didn’t advance after running 8:38.34. Nigate was tripped right at the start of the race and should be irate that the starter didn’t restart the race. After catching up to the main pack, he then ran right into the first water barrier and injured his neck. We’re not sure if he appealed or not but the starter definitely should have recalled the race when 3 people went down in the first 50 meters.
Here is how the top 17 seeds fared today. *Heat by heat results
|1||Soufiane EL BAKKALI||MAR||7:58.15||8:04.82||Q – 2nd in heat #2 (8:17.96)|
|2||Benjamin KIGEN||KEN||8:05.12||8:05.12||Q – 2nd in heat #3 (8:19.44)|
|3||Getnet WALE||ETH||8:05.51||8:05.51||Q – Won heat 1 in fastest time of day (8:12.96)|
|4||Fernando CARRO||ESP||8:05.69||8:05.69||q – 5th in heat #1 (8:13.56)|
|5||Abraham KIBIWOT||KEN||8:05.72||8:05.72||Q – 3rd in heat #2 (8:18.46)|
|6||Chala BEYO||ETH||8:06.48||8:06.48||q- 4th in heat #3 (8:21.09)|
|7||Lamecha GIRMA||ETH||8:07.66||8:07.66||Q – Won heat #2 (8:16.46)|
|8||Hillary BOR||USA||8:08.41||8:08.41||Q – 3rd in heat #3 (8:20.67)|
|9||Leonard Kipkemoi BETT||KEN||8:08.61||8:08.61||Q – 3td in heat #1 (8:13.07)|
|10||Djilali BEDRANI||FRA||8:09.47||8:09.47||Q – 2nd in heat #1 (8:13.02)|
|11||Takele NIGATE||ETH||8:09.50||8:09.50||DNQ – fell twice and finished 13th in heat 3 (8:38.34)|
|12||Albert CHEMUTAI||UGA||8:12.29||8:12.29||DNQ – 5th in heat #2 (8:23.08)|
|13||Mohamed TINDOUFT||MAR||8:12.89||8:12.89||DNQ – DNF in heat 3|
|14||Conseslus KIPRUTO||KEN||8:00.12||8:13.75||Q – Won heat #3 (8:19.20)|
|15||Stanley Kipkoech KEBENEI||USA||8:08.30||8:14.20||q – 6th in heat #1 (8:19.02)|
|16||Ibrahim EZZAYDOUNI||ESP||8:14.49||8:14.49||DNQ – 5th in heat #3 (8:23.99)|
|17||Andrew BAYER||USA||8:14.46||8:16.52||q – 4th in heat #2 (8:18.66)|
Never count out Conseslus Kipruto
Kipruto came into the 2017 Worlds in a very similar spot to 2019 as he ran just one track session between the Kenyan trials and Worlds. He lost his shoe early in last year’s Diamond League final in Zurich. Conseslus still won both of those races, and after the way he ran in today’s prelims, he has to be considered the favorite for Friday’s final.
Kipruto himself was full of confidence, saying that his shape has come around at the perfect time.
“I’m ready,” Kipruto said.
Below are three interviews with the three Americans. More interviews here.