At 31, it is hard to believe Brimin Kiprop Kipruto will be running his fourth Olympics in a race Kenya has dominated since its first men’s 3,000 metres steeplechase gold was won in Mexico 1968 by Amos Biwott.
Kipruto takes his pride of place in a roll of honour that has seen Kenyan water and barrier masters win every event since 1984 Olympics. He extended the glory with his triumph at the 2008 Beijing Games in China, reports Xinhua.
While there will be no surprise if a male runner from the east African nation wins the country’s 11th straight steeplechase Olympics gold medal, Kipruto is on a personal mission to return to the podium in Rio after missing the medals in London 2012.
His secondary aim is to help his countrymen, titleholder Ezekiel Kemboi and Beijing 2015 IAAF World Championships bronze winner, Conseslus Kipruto, complete a clean sweep.
The second-fastest steeplechaser of all time has buried the incident in London that saw him tripped by fierce domestic rival Kemboi with two laps to go. That knocked him off his rhythm and forced him down the order in fifth (8:23.03 minutes) having weathered the animosity in the run-up to the Brazil extravaganza.
Kemboi took the title in 8:18.56 while Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad (France) got the silver in 8:19.08 and Abel Mutai settled for surprise bronze in 8:19.73 denying Brimin a third Olympics medal.
“In London, I fell during the final and I was disappointed. It feels good to be with Kemboi in the team as we will be participating in our fourth Olympics. I moved on and hopefully this time round I won’t be cut out of the medal bracket unceremoniously,” the soft-spoken Osaka 2007 world champion said.
“The training has been great and I’m responding well to training. When we go there, we have one mission in mind: take all the medals and bring them home,” he charged.
“At the trials, the three of us had planned to make the team. That’s why we did not kick at the end. Kemboi was very happy that we made it, that’s why he was holding my hand at the finish line,” the 2004 Athens silver medallist expounded on how his relationship with Kemboi, the runner who has won every major steeplechase title since the Berlin 2009 World Championships, has improved.
Kipruto missed the world record at the 2011 Hercules Monaco Grand Prix IAAF Diamond League meeting by a second when he flew to 7:53.64 to leave Kenyan-born Qatari, Saif Saeed Shaheen’s world record of 7:53.63 still the standard.
“I had mixed emotions about it but I thank God because I have the African record and I’m world’s second fastest. It did not affect me in any way but I hope to make my fourth Olympics golden since I fell in London,” he recounted.