A mouth-watering battle looms in the men’s 3,000m steeplechase as Kenyans parade for a final showdown here at the Hampden Park Stadium.
Three-time world Ezekiel Kemboi, who has dominated the event for the better part of the decade, takes on on-form Jairus Kipchoge Birech, who only needs a point to lift the coveted Diamond League Trophy after winning four Diamond League meetings and losing once this season.
Kemboi, who competes in the Commonwealth Games for a fourth time, only competed in the IAAF Diamond League opening meeting in Doha, Qatar, in May.
His daredevilry character; his celebratory dance; the mo-hawk victory hairstyle and running antics is all expected here tonight.
By yesterday, Kemboi had however, not shaved his hair, to leave his rivals in stitches.
Kemboi, who had earlier announced that he is making his last stab in Commonwealth Games, is keen to bow out with victory.
“This is my last time to compete in Commonwealth Games and I want to win gold medal and allow young crop of athletes to take over the steeplechase.
It’s good I will compete in the presence of Ben Jipcho, who laid the foundation for us in the steeplechase,” Kemboi said when he received the flag from Sports Secretary Hassan Wario at Moi Interantional Sports Centre, Kasarani.
Kemboi, 32, is also a two-time Olympic champion and should he climb the podium in the Scottish city of Glasgow tonight, it be will be his second gold medal at the Commonwealth Games after win in Manchester (2002) and silver in Melbourne (2006).
For his outstanding pedigree, it remains to be seen whether Kemboi will be three times lucky against Birech, fourth at the All Africa Games, who basks in a world leading time of 8:02.37.
The 22-year-old Birech, who grew up with his cousin the 2007 world 800m champion Alfred Yego Kirwa, is keen to upset the formbook. “I am in good shape. I have competed in four Diamond League races winning four of them and losing the Doha meet, where I suffered a tendon injury. I know everybody wants to win the gold medal and it will be a Kenyan affair,” said Birech, who comes from Chesunet Village near Moi University’s main campus.
He went on: “I always want to run faster in the 600m. Kemboi has not competed this season and he could have saved energy.
He has winning tactics that start from A-Z.” Birech will head to the Africa Championships showdown in Morocco next week before competing in Diamond League meets in Birmingham and Brussels. Kenya’s enviable strength and depth in this event is further bolstered by the presence of former world junior champion Jonathan Ndiku Muia, who was third in 8:12.95 in Lausanne Diamond League meeting last month.”We will battle here.
We hope to win 1-2-3 as the women 3,000m steeplechase and 10,000m have done,” said Ndiku, who has a personal best time of 8:07.75 he posted in Monaco in 2011.
Courtesy of Standard Digital News