Kipruto: 'painful' not to compete at Olympics

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Conseslus KiprutoKipruto has dropped out of his last two steeplechase races

Kenya's former Olympic steeplechase champion Conseslus Kipruto has said it was "painful and difficult" not to compete in the event at Tokyo 2020, as he prepares to return to the track.

Kipruto triumphed in Rio in 2016 but failed to qualify for Tokyo after dropping out of the event during the national trials in June.

He also dropped out while competing in a Diamond League meeting in Rome - but he said that Saturday's event in Paris will play out differently.

“It was painful and difficult to not compete at the Olympics”, Kipruto, who is also a two-time world champion, told BBC Sport Africa.

“My body is feeling very good after a successful training regime, and I feel like I have come back to my best. I am back to the business of winning races."

Conseslus KiprutoKipruto's Rio triumph set a new Olympic record

Kipruto goes into Saturday’s race in an unfamiliar position: not being pre-race favourite.

The Paris field does give him the opportunity to come face to face with the newly minted Olympic champion, Soufiane El Bakkali - the Moroccan who ended Kenya’s 40-year unbroken run of Olympic steeplechase dominance.

“We have always claimed the 3000m steeplechase race is our specialty, and that’s why we won the Olympic title nine times in a row before El Bakkali’s triumph in Tokyo," Kipruto said.

"My absence in Tokyo contributed to the end of Kenya’s dominance, but I am ready to bring back the glory.

“Watching the Olympics from home, I felt the helplessness knowing I couldn’t defend my title. I felt discouraged for a while, but I have turned that discouragement into positivity - especially now that the back and hamstring injuries that have bothered me the whole season are over.”

Other African athletes in the water-and-barrier race at the Paris meeting include Oympics bronze medallist Bejamin Kigen of Kenya, Getnet Wale of Ethiopia and Eritrea’s Haileselassie Yemane.

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