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Kibiwott and Kigen vow to guard Kenya’s steeplechase dominance

Kenya's Conseslus Kipruto (L) and Kenya's Benjamin Kigen compete in the Men's 3000m steeple chase race heats at the 2019 IAAF Athletics World Championships at the Khalifa International stadium in Doha on October 1, 2019. ( AFP)

Benjamin Kigen and Abraham Kibiwott have vowed to defend Kenya’s honour in 3,000m steeplechase even if it means collapsing at the finish line.

Kibiwott, who strolled to the finish line in the second heat yesterday in 8:12.25 ahead of one of pre-race favourites Ethiopia’s Getnet Wale, said steeplechase was a Kenyan event and they don’t wish to be the ones to have let Kenya down at the Olympics.

“These were the heats and it was important that we reach the finals and once we reach the finals then we can talk about how to handle the race.

“You know steeplechase is a Kenyan event and we don’t want to let Kenyans down. Of course, we will face stiff challenge from Ethiopia and Morocco, but we are also strong and will strive to ensure that we win,”Kibiwott said after his race on Friday.

The final is on Monday and many Kenyans and other athletics pundits feel that Kenya might lose the 3,000m steeplechase gold for the first time in nine Olympics.

After Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto failed to make it to Tokyo and following from what was witnessed at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, where Conseslus won by the thickness of his vest, there is fear that Kenya si slowly losing the grip in steeplechase.

Kibiwott and Kigen have however vowed to continue Kenya’s tradition of winning at the Olympics despite the big threat they are facing.

“Our main target was to ensure we reach final and I have to fight until the end. I now know who my rivals are. I am going to watch more of the heats on Youtube and then I will know how to handle the race in the final.

“I will fight to the end to ensure that the gold remains in Kenya. I will do my part on the track and leave everything to God,” the Kenya Defence Forces athlete said.

Leonard Bett who failed to join Kibiwott and Kigen in the final said he was affected by stage fright but promised to come back stronger in next championships.

“I used wrong tactics in the race, but I can put that to racing at a big stage for the first time, but I will rectify that next time,” Bett, who won the Under-18 2000m steeplechase title in Nairobi in 2017 said.

Meanwhile, Mary Moraa who is the lone ranger for Kenya in 800m was happy to have qualified for the semi-finals. “I was always looking forward to racing against the likes of Eunice Sum when I switched from 400m to the 800m.”

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