Rio 2016: Kipruto claims Olympic Steeple gold

By (Follow on Twitter @ athleticsafrica)

Conseslus Kipruto ran an Olympic record of 8:03.28 to win Kenya’s ninth consecutive gold medal in the men’s 3000m steeplechase on day 6 of athletics at Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Wednesday.

Conseslus Kipruto, the 2011 world U18 and 2012 world U20 champion, who took silver medals behind Ezekiel Kemboi at the past two World Championships, assured himself a safe clearance of the final barrier and then allowed a well-earned additional celebration.

The youngest of the Kenyan trio, Kipruto dealt is compatriot and defending champion Ezekiel Kemboi his first championship loss since 2008. He covered the last lap in 1:00.20.

American Evan Jager clocked 8:04.28, also under the old Olympic record of 8:05.51, to take the silver medal with Kemboi taking the bronze in 8:08.47.

Kipruto’s victory extended a streak which has seen Kenya win every Olympic final they’ve entered beginning in 1968, broken only by boycotts in 1976 and 1980.

The past three, in particular, went to Kemboi (2004 and 2012) and teammate Brimin Kipruto (2008), seventh in Rio in 8:18.79.

“I knew nobody was going to catch me, so I started celebrating,” said Kipruto after the race. “I was so happy because I knew I was going to win the gold in the last 200 metres.”

Mekhissi gets Kemboi disqualified

Kenya's Conseslus Kipruto winner men’s 3000m SC and Ezekiel Kemboi on Day 6 of Athletics competition at Rio 2016 / Photo credit: Getty Images

Kenya’s Conseslus Kipruto winner men’s 3000m SC and Ezekiel Kemboi on Day 6 of Athletics competition at Rio 2016 / Photo credit: Getty Images

France’s Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, silver medallist at the past two Olympics, filed a post-race appeal claiming that Kemboi committed a lane violation.

It was upheld by the appeal jury of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), the sport’s governing body, which cited Kemboi for an “infringement of the inside border.”

Mekhissi-Benabbad was then awarded the bronze medal, having crossed the line in 8:11.52, but was booed by the scanty Brazilian crowd during the medal presentation.

While the IAAF found that Kemboi had committed a violation, it is unclear what impact — if any — it had on the final times as Kemboi finished with a time of 8:08.47, more than three seconds faster than Mekhissi-Benabbad’s fourth-place time.

Meanwhile, Kemboi declared that this race would be his last, even before learning of his disqualification.

“This is my fourth Olympics and I just want to say that I am retiring from athletics,” said the four-time world champion.

“Sometimes you just need to make a decision and I have come to the conclusion that today is my last event.”

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