Soufiane El Bakkali crowned as 'king of the steeplechase' at World Athletics Championships

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Soufiane El Bakkali celebrates his 3000m steeplechase win at the World Athletics ChampionshipsSoufiane El Bakkali has ended a run of Kenyan dominate in the steeplechase at both the Olympics and World Championships

Morocco's Soufiane El Bakkali believes he is the "king of steeplechase" after adding the world title to his Olympic Games gold.

The 26-year-old put on a tactical masterclass over the 3000m course in Eugene to end Kenya's 15-year reign in the discipline at the World Athletics Championships.

In a repeat performance of his Olympic success in Tokyo last year, he stayed near the back of the leading pack for much of the race before making the decisive move in the last 200m to claim gold in a time of eight minutes 25.13 seconds.

"I am the king of steeplechase because I have gained confidence on the track. That's why I am the Olympic champion and now the world champion," El Bakkali told BBC Sport Africa.

Ethiopia's Lamecha Girma had to settle for silver once again, having finished second in Tokyo and in Doha three years ago, while Kenya's Conseslus Kipruto, the 2019 champion, ended with bronze.

Kenyan runners had won men's steeplechase gold in every edition of the World Championships since Brimin Kipruto's success in Osaka in 2007 and El Bakkali said his finishing speed had been the key to victory in Oregon.

"The course was very tactical, slow. We had very good runners like defending champion Kipruto," said El Bakkali, who beamed as he waved the Moroccan flag over his head.

"I positioned well in the last lap. I am very strong in the 400m and it worked out for me.

"After the semi-final I had a good look at the strategy of the Kenyan athletes. I was on my own, the only Moroccan in the race but I did not limit myself to winning silver nor bronze. Instead I managed to come first in two world league meetings and now the World Championship."

Kenya's Kipruto upbeat despite bronze

The 3000m steeplechase at the World Athletics ChampionshipsConseslus Kipruto of Kenya (right) was the defending world champion in Eugene

Girma, after another second-placed finish, intends to reassess his training with an eye toward next year's World Championships in Budapest.

"The pace was very slow today, my tactic did not work and that [cost] me the gold," he said.

"I was trying to change the tactic but the pace limited me very much. I will go for gold next year and my training is starting from now on."

Dethroned world champion Kipruto, meanwhile, said he "did not execute the race as planned".

"I was running against athletes who have two years of consistent running when I was struggling," he added.

"It was never going to be easy. But I take the bronze positively."

Kipyegon now the greatest 1500m runner?

Meanwhile two-time Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya took 1500m gold in an astonishingly time of three minutes 52.96 to regain her world title.

Kipyegon first took the crown in London in 2017 and becomes the first woman to win four global 1500m titles, with Ethiopia's Gudaf Tsegay second and Britain's Laura Muir in third.

Combined with her two Olympic golds, separated by a 22-month maternity leave from competition - which included 12 months without running - made it more fulfilling for the Kenyan.

"I knew it was going to be fast so I was really expecting that tight race," she told BBC Sport.

"I was not scared. I was like 'everything is possible' and I had to calm down, enjoy the race and I won.

"It feels very good to get back the world title that I lost in 2019 when I was coming back from giving birth to my daughter, who means the world to me."

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