For the past 37 years and across nine consecutive editions of the Olympic Games Kenya has won a gold medal in the men’s 3000m steeplechase.
In those nine editions, Kenya has swept the podium twice (1992 and 2004) while clinching double medals on five occasions.
That is the short history on why the steeplechase is often referred to as the ‘Kenyan race’ during major championships.
With defending champion Conseslus Kipruto out of the Games having failed to qualify during the national trials, the onus to continue Kenya’s dominance in the water and barrier race lies on Leonard Bett, Abraham Kibiwott and Benjamin Kigen.
While the trio will be making their debut at the largest sporting event, they believe they have what it takes to extend Kenya’s dominance in the event.
Bett, the World Under-20 silver medallist is wary of the expectations from his compatriots who will be glued to the screens back at home.
“For sure there is some pressure especially with this being traditionally a Kenyan event. I want to assure my fellow Kenyans that we are ready and we shall not let them down,” said Bett.
Kigen, the African Games champion said the Kenyans are ready to battle it out at the highest level insisting team work is the only way to secure victory.
“We have really prepared well both individually and as a team. We intend to correct some few mistakes we saw from the past competitions like running from behind and I know we will deliver medals for our country,” said Kigen.’
Having finished seventh during the 2019 World Championships, Kibiwott said they intend to follow in the footsteps of the legendary athletes including two-time Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi.
“We have learnt a lot from our legends, we have even competed with Conseslus and I think for us it is just a matter of continuing what our compatriots started,” said Kibiwott.
The trio have already settled in Tokyo with the men’s 3000m steeplechase set to kick start athletics action at the Olympics on Friday.
World bronze medallist Soufianne El Bakkali will be the main threat for the Kenyans with the Moroccan being among the fastest among the Tokyo entrants.
Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma who Conseslus Kipruto edged at the 2019 World Championships in a photo finish is also in the mix alongside his compatriots Getnet Wale and Bikila Tadese Takele, the winner of Ethiopian trials.
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