Men's 3,000 meter Steeplechase - Daegu Preview
Provided by IAAF
Brimin Kipruto, who recently missed the World 3000m Steeplechase record by a fraction of second at the Samsung Diamond League/Herculis meeting in Monaco, vowed after that performance he will be definitely targeting it in Daegu.
"The race was so fast for everyone I didn't even know it was a world record pace," said Kipruto after his extraordinary feat. "When I saw the clock I was just so grateful. Next time at the World Championships I will try and break the world record.”
His ability to do so is unquestionable after his magnificent time of 7:53.64 on a balmy Mediterranean evening in the millionaires independent state. But will the Kenyan's deep thinking head and advice of his equally highly experienced management team, rule out an ambition firmly entrenched in his heart until a later date?
The journeyman steeplechaser having had a month to consider his priority might instead decide it is more important to regain the title he lost to fellow teammate Ezekiel Kemboi in Berlin two years ago when with three laps remaining he unexpectedly fell off the pace and dropped back to finish a disappointed seventh.
There is of course another strong argument and one which will thrill spectators in Daegu. Kipruto may have to smash Saif Saaeed Shaheen's world figure of 7:53.63 to assure a victory given the display of Kemboi who himself clocked a personal best 7:55.56 the fifth fastest of all-time.
There looked to be more in his tank as he followed Kipruto home in what was an unforgettable 3000m encounter around the Stade Louis II stadium track.
Whatever, the pair of Olympic champions - Kemboi 28 won in 2004 and 26-year-old Kipruto after finishing runner up on that occasion in Athens succeeded him four years later in Beijing - will in another showdown start undisputed favourites.
Indeed, the duo backed up by Berlin runner-up Richard Mateelong, are tipped to lead a Kenyan clean sweep of the medals previously achieved twice, in 1997 (Wilson Boit Kipketer, Moses Kiptanui and Bernard Barmasai) and a decade later where Kipruto consigned Kemboi to a third successive silver medal and Mateelong was third.
But the trio will remember that was the expected result in the German capital until Bouabdellah Tahri broke what seemed a certain 1-2-3. Digging deep he caught Paul Koech - third in the epic Monaco race but not selected for the Kenyan side - five metres from the line to win France's first ever World medal over the distance.
The European record holder (8:01.18 set in Berlin) and fastest ever non-African, will again be hoping to achieve a podium finish and his country will also be fortunate to field Mahiedine Mekhissi who beat Tahri for the Area title in Barcelona last August.
Mekhissi the Beijing Olympic silver medallist will travel to Korea at least with the knowledge and confidence booster having beaten Kemboi by five seconds when they clashed at the Paris SDL meet on 8 July where he lowered his personal best time to 8:02.09.
But it will be a tough call given Kenyans have taken home the gold medal on eight previous occasions and if Shaheen (aka Stephen Cherono who switched allegiance to Qatar in 2003) it would be in double figures given his 2003 Paris success and 2005 defence of his title in Helsinki.
The line-up, unless it develops into a very unlikely slow tactical battle given Kipruto's possible World record attempt, should see a new Championship record and sub-eight minute clocking. Defending champion Kemboi is the holder with his time of 8:00.43 in Berlin.
David Martin for the IAAF