Olympic champ Kipruto eyes steeplechase world record in Brussels

Nairobi, Aug 30 (IANS) Olympics 3,000 metre steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto of Kenya on Tuesday warned that he is keen to break the world record when he competes at the Brussels Diamond League meeting next week.

Kipruto, 21, has finally showed on the global stage that he has evolved out of the shadows of his mentor and countryman Ezekiel Kemboi after he finally won the gold in Rio to add to the Africa and Commonwealth titles he has held before, reports Xinhua.

He now chases a 12-year-old world record that was set by Qatar’s Saif Saaeed Shaheen — formerly known as Stephen Cherono — who was a native Kenyan.

The world 3000m steeplechase is one of the three world records in Olympic distances that has been set at the Brussels Memorial and that are still actual world records.

Shaheen set the world record on Sepember 3, 2004 at 7:53.63, a mark that has often been attacked but never improved.

“It is a record I have eyed before even when I was frustrated of not winning gold medal. I believe I have the capacity to do that now that the Olympics are over. It will be hard but with the right support and atmosphere, I will do it,” Kipruto said.

“The world record is on my mind. It depends on pacemakers, but I will try in Brussels. I think I can.”

The Kenyan is considered to be the greatest talent of this generation of steeplechasers, at the age of 21 years hardly. He crowned himself the Olympic champion after winning silver medals at the 2013 and 2015 World Championships.

In 2012 Kipruto became the world junior champion on the distance.

America’s Evan Jager, the Rio silver medallist, will also be in the race and hopes to become the first American to crack the 8 minutes barrier. His personal best stands at 8:00.45.

This season, Kipruto has been in top form, taking wins in Doha, Rabat, Rome, Birmingham and Monaco, which means that heading into Brussels, he has built an unassailable lead in the Diamond Race.

All summer, though, Rio loomed on the horizon to the west, like a sunset he couldn’t look away from, lit up in radiant light with that colour he couldn’t stop thinking about: gold.

To get it, Kipruto would have to depose the man who had ruled the steeplechase for the best part of a decade, Ezekiel Kemboi, who had outkicked him to win the previous two World Championships.

“Kemboi told me it would be his last race and he was going to win,” recalls Kipruto. “He usually destroys somebody’s mind but I told him, ‘okay, let the track show who is the king’. I didn’t give him a chance.”

Ethiopia’s Almaz Ayana will also be in the field, who will try to break the world record in 5000m.



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