Blow for Kenya as Chepkoech pulls out ahead of today's race

Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech (R) crosses the finish line to win the Women's 3000m steeplechase heats at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Khalifa International stadium in Doha on September 27, 2019. (Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP)

World 3,000m steeplechase champion Beatrice Chepkoech will not anchor Kenya’s title defence bid against stiff opposition at the global showpiece after she was forced to pull out yesterday.

She was expected to team up with two-time world Under 20 champion Celliphine Chespol, reigning world Under-20 champion Jackline Chepkoech and Purity Kurui.

Beatrice Chepkoech was however forced out with injury and could not join the team in Oregon.

She arrived yesterday from Netherlands where she had gone for treatment in the hope she would fly to the World Championships ahead of today’s race.

The world record holder has been nursing an injury which she was hoping will heal in time for the championships.

In the absence of Beatrice, Kenyan-turned-Kazakh Norah Jeruto, who has dipped under nine minutes in the water and barriers race this season will not be the main threat to Kenya, but she is now a hot favourite for gold.

Uganda’s Olympic champion Peruth Chemutai and America’s 2017 world champion Emma Coburn, silver medalist Courtney Frerichs, Courtney Wayment will also pose a threat on their home soil.

From the seven editions of the women’s race that was introduced in 2005 Helsinki worlds, Kenya has won three gold medals in Milcah Chemos at 2013 Moscow, Hyvin Kiyeng at 2015 Beijing and Beatrice Chepkoech at the 2019 Doha worlds.

With eight editions since 2005, five different nations have struck gold in the women’s 3000m steeplechase and there looks a huge chance for a sixth to join that list in Oregon. 

Bahrain and Kazakhstan, neither of which has ever won a World Championships medal in this event, look to hold the two aces in the women’s steeplechase pack in Winfred Mutile Yavi and Norah Jeruto. 

The Kenyan-born duo have been in sparkling form so far this season, and they were a class apart when taking on most of their main rivals at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Eugene in May.

Jeruto proved the stronger, clocking a world lead of 8:57.97 to beat Yavi (8:58.71). 

Before that, Jeruto had clocked a highly impressive 9:04.95 at altitude in Nairobi.

Not bad for Jeruto, who represented Kenya at the 2011 World Youth Championships in Lille, France, while a Standard Eight pupil at Mwachon Primary School in Baringo County. The 26-year-old has never won a global title since then.