3,000m steeplechase duo of Chepkoech and Kiyeng duo chase elusive medal

Kenya’s Hyvin Kiyeng and Marusa Mismas Zrimsek of Slovenia in action in women’s 3000m Steeplechase. [Reuters]

Kenya’s 3,000m steeplechase duo of Beatrice Chepkoech and Hyvin Kiyeng have a chance to redeem Kenya’s battered image so far at the 2020 Olympics.

The world record holder and Olympic silver medallist will today at 2pm take to the track with a chance to not only win Kenya’s first gold medal of the 2020 Olympics, but also make history in the women’s race.

Despite a dominance by Kenyan women mainly in the Diamond League meetings, Kenya has not had an Olympic gold medallist since the event was first held at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

It has been a surprise to many that while the men had made the event a Kenyan affair before Morocco’s Soufiane El Bakkali broke that dominance on Monday, the women are still searching for a first title at the Olympics for Kenya.

It is even more surprising that Kenyans hold the world record in the event and also the world title won by Chepkoech in 2019 in Doha, Qatar.

On her part, Kiyeng is also not a novice as she is not only the reigning Olympics silver medallist, but also a former world champion.

After over nine minutes of punishing conditions at the Olympics Stadium, history will either be made for Kenya or the wait will continue once again.

Kiyeng is, however, not ready to see Kenyans have another poor outing at the games over the distance even though she was quick to point out that it is everybody’s race here in Tokyo.

“We will run as a team in the final. I will work with Beatrice, but it will not be easy as everyone wants a medal. Anybody who was not rated can go on and win the race,” Kiyeng said.

The biggest fear for Kenya ahead of the race though is the form of world record holder Chepkoech, who has not had a good 2021.

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Beatrice Chepkoech wins the women’s 3,000m steeplechase during the Kip Keino Classic meet at Nyayo Stadium. [Stafford Ondego]

The 2019 world champion is also nursing an injury which she hopes will not give her problems during the final.

The Kenyans will also be fighting against some rivals who know them inside out.

Kiyeng was denied a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio by a former Kenyan in Ruth Jebet and there is fear that another former Kenyan might be prepared to disappoint her country of birth.

Bahrain’s Winfred Havi has been in good form this year and has even beaten Kiyeng and other big names in the field including another Olympic bronze medallist Emma Coburn of the USA and Gesa-Felicitas Krause of Germany.

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