3000m steeplechase

The last time I saw Ezekiel Kemboi, his superiority over his opponents was laughable. He ran the last 50m of the race diagonally, from lane 1 to lane 8, waving his arms about, a scrawny gappy-toothed mohawked mau-mau warrior, drunk. Now 33, fourth in the Kenyan trials, today he is up against a strong field, including the tall US cowboy, Jager, once more out to break the Kenyan strangehold on the 3000m steeplechase. Not only Jager, but also an 18-year old Ethiopian, a Moroccan and the three other Kenyans look like they mean business. There’s jostling at the front, everyone wants to mix it. The Ethiopian puts in a burst two laps out. Kemboi is there, on the inside; when you look, you can see the master-technician jumping the hurdles with remarkable alacrity. At the bell the Ethiopian has blown up – but the lone white ranger, Jager, is running strongly. Does Kemboi still have the finishing speed? Coming into the back straight, he is fourth… and he suddenly starts sprinting, frenetically, all manic little steps and circular arms, a kid chasing a football in the playground. He gains the lead within 5 meters – up over the penultimate hurdle, and the waterjump: but Kipruto, grimacing, is coming back at him. Will Kemboi pay for his silliness? Up to the final hurdle and Kipruto is almost on his shoulder… but Kemboi flies over – gaining five meters on the jump alone – accelerates again and veers victoriously over the line – in lane 3.

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