Kenyan trio united in hunt for steeplechase gold in Doha

By Dennis Okeyo: Friday, September 13th 2019 at 00:00 GMT +3 | Athletics
3,000m steeplechase record holder Beatrice Chepkoech (right) holds hands with Hyvin Kyeng and Celliphine Chespol during the World Championships trials at Nyayo Stadium on September 12, 2019 [PHOTO: Dennis Okeyo, STANDARD]

The 3,000m women steeplechase race was supposed to be one of the most competitive events at the World Championships trials at Nyayo Stadium yesterday but in the end, the three main rivals crossed the line holding hands in triumph.

World record holder Beatrice Chepkoech was the hot favourite to win, but from the start, she seemed more interested in ensuring that Olympic silver medallist Hyvin Kiyeng and Celliphine Chespol also made the team to Doha as they plot to bring back the title that was won by USA in 2017.

At the end of the race, the trio said their mission was to ensure that a Kenyan wins gold in the race that was last won by Kiyeng in 2015 in Beijing.

Diamond League trophy winner Chepkoech was in the end given the win after the blanket finish with Kiyeng second and youngster Chespol third.

They will all be waiting to be confirmed in the Kenyan team that will be named today at the end of the two-day competition.

Fancy Cherono who finished a distant fourth could also be named in the team as the fourth member considering that Chepkoech has a wild card to the global meet after winning the Diamond League Trophy.

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Chepkoech, who is also a Commonwealth Games medallist over 1,500m was given a winning time of 9 minutes and 45.15 despite holding hands with Kiyeng and Chespol across the finish line.

Kiyeng’s time in second place was 9:45.20 while Chespol was timed at 9:45.24 for third as African Games silver medallist Cherono sealed the fourth place in the team.

“The reason why we held our hands while finishing the race was because we wanted to send a message to Kenyans that we are united and plan to bring back the gold medal and hopefully we will do it in the same style in Doha,” Chepkoech said.

“I know everyone expects me to do well, being the world record holder, so I will be under pressure to deliver but as long as I stay healthy and train well, a gold medal will be coming back to Kenya,” Chepkoech said.

On her part, Kiyeng said they learned a lesson in London when they lost the title to America’s Emma Coburn.

“In London, we missed the gold medal because we didn’t plan well, everyone ran their own race and no one wanted to hit the front and attack.

“With that great lesson, we are not going to repeat the same mistake in Doha, we must make sure we run as a team and deliver victory,” Kiyeng said.

Chespol believes with the teamwork they plan to use in Doha, she is certain the squad can deliver a podium sweep.

“We have run together for long, we know each other’s strength, it’s just a matter of fine-tuning in training in the coming few weeks and we are confident of victory,” Chespol said.

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