The 3,000m steeplechase contest is no doubt Kenya’s number one track event in which the athletics world often refer as a race ‘made in Kenya for Kenyans.’
The nation has recorded a string of victories since 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City where Amos Biwott became the first Kenyan Olympic champion.
Kipchoge Keino, the man named after today’s Continental Tour meet, became the second Kenyan to win gold in the race at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. And the rest is history.
But there has been a steady invasion from Americans, French, Ethiopians and Moroccans in the race.
London (2017) and Doha (2019) worlds provided a perfect indicator that Kenya’s performance in the race is steadily waning after losing silver and bronze medals.
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Last year, Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto won by the thickness of his vest against Ethiopian teenager Lamecha Girma. It was the closest ever finish in 3,000m steeplechase at the World Championships.
Former world silver medalist Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco and reigning Diamond League trophy winner Getnet Wale of Ethiopia have also posed serious threats.
Kenya boasts of top three athletes in the world top lists in all-time best Qatar’s Saif Saaeed Shaheen, formerly Stephen Cherono of Kenya (7:53.63), Brimin Kipruto (7:53.64) and Paul Kipsiele Koech (7:54.31).
Again, Kenya boasts of top three women athletes in the world top lists in Beatrice Chepkoech (8:44.32), Kenyan-turned-Bahraini Ruth Jebet (8:52.78) and Celliphine Chepteek Chespol (8:58.78).
There is no better stage to stop any aggression than the Kip Keino Classic meet –which is the first senior international track event to be held in Kenya.
The water and barriers race is not the only Kenyan favourite event.
Kenya has ruled the roost in 800m, 1500m and 5000m races.
The nation basks in David Rudisha’s 800m world record of 1:40.91 and Asbel Kiprop’s (3:26.69), third-fastest time in history over the race.
World 1,500m champion Timothy Cheruiyot will be out to continue this good showing when he leads 2011 world 1,500m champion Silas Kiplagat, 2016 world junior 1500m champion Kumari Taki and Charles Simotwo.
Former world 5,000m records of Moses Kiptanui and Daniel Komen are a bonus.