Ezekiel Kemboi wins the steeplechase at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (© Getty Images)
As expected, Kenya dominated this race, with Ezekiel Kemboi proving that he’s the consummate championship competitor by taking his fourth consecutive world title and seventh straight medal at the IAAF World Championships.
After 2013 world silver medallist Conseslus Kipruto towed the field through the first kilometre in 2:49.50 and then increased the pace slightly to reach 2000m in 5:36.77 – an honest pace but certainly not super-fast – the race started in earnest with two laps to go with most of the field still within striking distance.
Kipruto was joined at the front by the US hope and North American record-holder Evan Jager and with 500 metes to go, the latter was to the fore and looking like he might lift the USA’s first medal ever at the event.
At the bell it was Jager and Kipruto, no relation to 2007 world champion Brimin Kipruto who was close behind, together but around the penultimate bend the American started to tire as the older Kipruto, Kemboi and world leader Jairus Birech moved up and then past Jager.
Midway down the back straight on the last lap, the quartet of Kenyans started to leave behind Jager and the rest of the field and now the question was, just who of this four was going to get which medal?
With 30 metres to go, it was Kemboi, at 33 the oldest man in the field, who again found a change of gear and he crossed the line in 8:11.28, before pointing at his head with both hands to indicate that he was still the boss.
Conseslus Kipruto, still only 21, took his second successive silver medal in 8:12.38 while the ‘other’ Kipruto returned to the podium in third place.
The only slight surprise was that Birech, the fastest man in the world for the past two years and 2014 Diamond Race winner, was edged out of the medals. But finishing fourth meant that not only had Kenya got a clean sweep of the medals for the third time ever in this event but they also filled the first four places, a feat only achieved twice before in IAAF World Championships history – by the USA in the 2005 men’s 200m and Ethiopia in the women’s 5000m the same year.
Jager’s anticipated challenge evaporated on the last lap and he didn’t end up even as the first US runner home, finishing sixth after being passed by his compatriot Dan Huling down the home straight.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF