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Former multiple champ Ezekiel Kemboi gives steeplechase team tips

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Kenya's Ezekiel Kemboi celebrates winning the final of the men's 3,000 metres steeplechase athletics event at the 2015 IAAF World Championships at the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium in Beijing on August 24, 2015.

Photo credit: AFP

Multiple world and Olympics 3,000m steeplechase champion Ezekiel Kemboi has tipped Kenya to shine in track and field in Paris later this month and the next one.

In an interview with Nation Sport on July 2, Kemboi, who has been seconded to the Team Kenya athletics team to give them tips ahead of the Paris Games slated for July 26-August 11, said that the athletes were in great shape and were now polishing up on a few techniques. Kemboi, 44, has particularly been working with the steeplechase runners.

“I’m humbled to have been given a chance to interact and give tips to the athletes and I must admit that they are in good shape and just some fine tuning.

“It is a matter of being focused and pushing yourself a little bit further so that you can do well in the steeplechase. They need to work on their psychology. If we made it, they could also make it,” said Kemboi after the day’s training session at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County.

Athletes in 800m (men), 1,500m (women), 3,000m steeplechase (men and women), 5,000m (men and women) and the 10,000 (men and women) are camping at Kazi Mingi Farm, the former International Olympics Committee High Altitude Centre in Eldoret.

Athletes representing the country in 100m (men), 400m (men), 400m hurdles (men), 800m (women), 1,500m (men) and race walk (men) are camping at the Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani, in Nairobi.

The marathon team comprising Eliud Kipchoge, Benson Kipruto, Timothy Kiplagat (reserve), Peres Jepchirchir, Brigid Kosgei and Sharon Lokedi (reserve) are training in the North Rift region while Alexander Mutiso is training in Ngong and, Hellen Obiri in Colorado, USA.

Their paces

The Kenya steeplechase members that were going through their paces under Kemboi yesterday were former World Under-20 champions Amos Serem, Jackline Chepkoech and reigning World Under-20 champion Faith Cherotich. Kemboi said that he has been following up on the team since the national trials and he believes that they will bag men’s and women’s medals.

Kemboi had a glittering career bagging four world titles, 2009 Berlin, 2011 Daegu, 2013 Moscow and 2015 Beijing. Brimin Kipruto, the 2008 Olympic Games 3,000m steeplechase champion, gave the Kenyan Paris-bound steeplechase runners the thumbs up to do well.

He said the runners looked good but needed to work hard for glory in Paris. The other steeplechase runners in Team Kenya are Simeon Koech, Abraham Kibiwott, world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech and Commonwealth Games champion Jackline Chepkoech.

Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma holds the world lead time this season of 8:01.63. Compatriot Samuel Firewu has run the second fastest time this season at 8:05.78. Kibiwott is the third fastest this season with a time of 8:07.38.

Benjamin Kigen won a bronze medal for Kenya at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in a race won by Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali while Ethiopia’s Lamecha Girma settled for silver. Kenya will also be eyeing the elusive women’s steeplechase gold Kenya.

The country’s best performance is bronze via Eunice Jepkorir at the 2008 Beijing Games, where the event was first introduced.