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Kemboi leads Kenyan 1-2-3 in steeplechase

Bill Barclay | August 25, 2004 00:37 IST
Last Updated: August 25, 2004 00:54 IST

Ezekiel Kemboi led home a jubilant Kenyan 1-2-3 in the men's Olympic 3,000 metres steeplechase final on Tuesday.

The world championship silver medallist beckoned team mates Brimin Kipruto and Paul Kipsiele Koech over the line after him as he took gold in a time of eight minutes 5.81 seconds.

The trio headed Musa Obaid Amer, himself a former Kenyan now representing Qatar, over the line to maintain the African country's almost total dominance of the event.

Kenya have now won the last six Olympic 3,000 steeplechase golds and the three medallists embraced in a joyful jig at the end before embarking on their joint lap of honour.

The victory was especially sweet for the Kenyans because of the ill feeling created by the defection to Qatar of several of their top runners.

Kemboi finished second at last year's world championships in Paris to Qatar's world champion Saif Saeed Shaheen, formerly Kenyan Stephen Cherono, who switched to represent the Gulf State on a lucrative contract.

Shaheen, though, was absent from Athens after the disgruntled Kenyan Olympic Committee blocked his participation. Until Paris, Kenya had won the last six world championship golds.

By the end of the first circuit on Tuesday the three Kenyans had established themselves at the front, led by 19-year-old Kipruto, with Amer following their every move.

Koech, the fastest man in the world this year, took it up and stretched out the field before the 22-year-old Kemboi moved decisively to the front with 200 metres to go.

Displaying virtual contempt for the rest of the field he turned to wave his team mates on after each of the last remaining hurdles and Kipruto and Koech duly obliged, leaving Amer to settle for fourth place.

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