Chespol, Kipyegon shine as El Bakkali denies Kenya victory in 3000m steeplechase

ATHLETICS |
Vincent Keter wins the 1500m men final during The Kip Keino Classic-World Athletics Continental Tour 2021 at Kasarani stadium in Nairobi on September18, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Former World U20 champion Celliphine Chespol announced her return to athletics by destroying a strong field of 16 contestants in the women’s 3000m steeplechase at Kasarani Stadium yesterday.

Chespol clocked 9:30.55 to win the category in the second edition of Kip Keino Classic Meet that attracted athletes from across the globe.

Chespol returned to the game after a near fatal accident early this year.

She was knocked down by a school bus while she was training in Ngong on April 7, 2021, an injury that denied her a chance to qualify for Tokyo Olympics.

“My body is getting into shape, I hope I will be as fit as a fiddle before the World Championships next year,” said Chespol.

The men’s 3000m steeplechase was a complete opposite for Kenya.

Local athletes in the discipline were floored by Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco who clocked 8:21.20 to win the competition.

“I’m proud to beat Kenyans at home, to beat them in the home of steeplechase is such amazing achievement,” Bakkali said through an interpreter.

Abraham Kibiwot, who came second (8.22.33) pledged to look for a formula to neutralise the Moroccan next season.

Double Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon was another wonder to watch in the women’s 1500m category which she won in 4:02.40.

“It has been a successful year for me, I broke my own personal best this season,” said Kipyegon.

“I’m glad to have run at home today, I’m happy I gave my fans a piece of me. I’m also glad I did not disappoint,” said Kipyegon.

Men’s 200m was a struggle between 100m Olympic medallist Fred Kerley of USA and Commonwealth Games 400m champion Isaac Makwala of Botswana.

Crowd favourite Kerley breezed to the tape to win in 19.76.

“The race was good, the field was competitive. It was great I recorded my personal best in this high altitude zone,” said Kerley.

“I can’t complain of the season, winning an Olympic medal and emerging a Diamond League champion is such an honour this year,” added Kerley.

Makwala, who finished second thanked his body for allowing to compete in Nairobi.

“I thought I was tired, but I’m amazed by my perfomance.The result has earned me a place in next year’s World Championships,” Makwala said.

Namibian teen sensation Christine Mboma edged Marie Jose Talou in the women’s 200m. She won in 22.39.

Mboma noted Kasarani Stadium will be so special in heart after the victory.

“I have ended the season in style. Now, I’m going to train hard, I’m targeting gold in the World Championships,” she said.

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