Tue, August 07, 2012
Sports > Popular News > 2012 London Olympic Games

Kemboi sets aside home troubles to take gold

2012-08-07 01:47:09 GMT2012-08-07 09:47:09(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Kenya's Ezekiel Kemboi bites his gold medal during the men's 3000m steeplechase victory ceremony during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 6, 2012. (REUTERS/Eddie Keogh)

Kenya's Ezekiel Kemboi celebrates winning gold in the men's 3000m steeplechase final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 5, 2012. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

Kenya's Ezekiel Kemboi celebrates after winning the men's 3000m steeplechase final at the athletics event during the London 2012 Olympic Games in London. (AFP Photo/Gabriel Bouys)

Kenyan Ezekiel Kemboi won the men's Olympic 3000m steeplechase for the second time on Sunday, showing great mental strength to put aside the pressure of a court case he faces back home.

The 30-year-old - who faces trial for allegedly stabbing a woman earlier this year - timed 8min 18.56sec to finish ahead of France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabear, who clocked 8:19.08 for a second successive silver.

Another Kenyan, Abel Kiprop Mutai, took bronze in 8:19.73.

Kenya's dominance of the event was underlined - they have now won eight consecutive Olympic titles.

Kemboi, a two-time world champion, then celebrated Kenya's first gold in London so far in unusual fashion by dancing with Mekhissi-Benabear, who gave France their first athletics medal of the Games.

The Kenyan was charged with causing bodily harm in late June after a woman was stabbed in a carjacking in the Kenyan town of Eldoret.

The Frenchman is no stranger to controversy himself as he brawled with compatriot Mehdi Baala in 2011 and was served with a five-month ban by his national federation after the world championships that year.

Kemboi triumphed in the 2004 Athens Games but faded to seventh place in Beijing eight years ago.

"First of all it is wonderful to win Kenya's first gold medal in the athletics here and secondly to have made up for missing out in Beijing when I was sick," he said.

"The dance was a spontaneous thing and he went along with it. It was a bit of fun."

Mekhissi-Benabear was ecstatic at denying the Kenyans a clean sweep and confessed that he felt no bitterness at finishing second to Kemboi.

"Kemboi is the Kenyan I appreciate most," he said. "It is a good-natured and fair war between us, I congratulate him, he is a great champion, he has had his share of problems and a difficult preparation for the Olympics.

"I don't have any regrets, I sweated blood for the French vest, I did what I had to do."

Mutai pointedly did not take part in the dance routine and suggested that if there had been a pacemaker and a faster pace his younger legs would have got the better of his older colleague.

"The race was tactical and it was tough. It was very slow. I think we need to have at least a pacemaker at the Olymptc Games," said the 23-year-old.

"I thought I was going to win it when I reached the last 400 metres but it didn't happen.

"I am happy but I would have been happier if I'd won gold. That was my target."

However, Mutai said that he needed to use the winner as a role model if he was to one day stand on the top step of the podium and continue the rich Kenyan steeplechase tradition.

"He's a veteran guy and he's very experienced. I have to follow him if I want to improve. I am happy for him and for Kenya," he said.



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