Kenya dominate podium in Commonwealth Games 3000m ‘chase but only after a dramatic scrap for bronze on a night that also saw Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei seal a distance double
Kenya finished one-two-three in the men’s 3000m steeplechase for the sixth Commonwealth Games on the trot, but only just after Canadian Matt Hughes boldly tried to spoil the East African domination and came agonisingly close to claiming a medal.
When it came to gold, the Olympic and world champion Consesulus Kipruto was never troubled and he spent the latter stages of the race show-boating and waving at his team-mates in an attempt to usher them into the podium places.
Despite slowing down, Kipruto crossed the line in 8:10.08 to beat Jonathan Ndiku’s Games record with Abraham Kibiwott close behind in second.
But the real drama was in the battle for bronze as Hughes firstly muscled his way into a medal position at the bell before settling into third place around the final bend, with fourth-placed Amos Kirui of Kenya detached and seemingly out of the race.
In the home straight, though, with Kipruto in the lead urging his fellow Kenyans to complete the sweep, the world junior champion Kirui began a late charge and caught Hughes in the final strides.
The last non-Kenyan to win a medal in this event was Canadian Graeme Fell back in 1994 and history was almost repeated here, but even a desperate lunge at the finish line from Hughes did not succeed as he ended up on the track in fourth place.
Behind, Welsh duo Jonathan Hopkins and Ieuan Thomas finished sixth and seventh in 8:34.12 and 8:40.02, while Northern Ireland’s Adam Kirk-Smith was eighth in 8:48.40.
Elsewhere, Kenya hasn’t enjoyed a vintage Games on the Gold Coast and the men’s 10,000m saw Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei complete a distance double.
Earlier in the week the 21-year-old had won the 5000m title and on Friday evening he added the 10,000m crown in a Games record of 27:19.62.
A high quality race saw Cheptegei complete the final 800m in 1:55 and last lap in 56 seconds as he surged for home with 500m to go to beat Mo Ahmed of Canada.
In doing so, Cheptegei became only the third man to win a Commonwealth 5000m and 10,000m double after fellow Ugandan Moses Kipsiro managed the feat in 2010 and New Zealander Cecil Mathews achieved it at the slightly different distances of three and six miles in 1938.
After the runners passed halfway in 13:53, the pace continued to increase and Jake Robertson of New Zealand broke up the field with an injection of speed six laps from home.
Robertson eventually finished fifth as Rodgers Kwemoi of Kenya took bronze and Jacob Kiplimo was fourth.
The only home nations athlete in the race, Andy Vernon, placed ninth in 28:17.11.
In the discus, Fedrick Dacres threw a Games record of 68.20m to win by more than four metres from Jamaican team-mate Traves Smikle.
Apostolos Parellis of Cyprus took bronze with 63.61m as the only athlete from the home nations, Zane Duquemin of Jersey, was ninth with 55.64m.
Dacres’ win was expected, but the T47 100m saw a big surprise as the unheralded Nigerian Suwaibidu Galadima, who had little form coming into the Games, sped away from England’s James Arnott to win convincingly in 11.04.
There was no immediate celebration from Galadima, though, as he collapsed on the track in pain with a leg injury.
» See the April 12 and 19 editions of AW magazine for in-depth event-by-event coverage from the Gold Coast Games