Kenya faces challenge to defend steeplechase title at Doha worlds

Kenya faces a real challenge to firm their grip on the steeplechase title at the World Championships, which will be held in Doha, Qatar from September 28 to October 6.

Reigning champion Conseslus Kipruto suffered a recurrent foot fracture in May and he will stay out of competition until September.

Pretenders to the throne, many having been primed to succeed Kipruto have failed on the wayside and performed dismally at the lucrative Diamond League series.

Now Athletics Kenya (AK) officials are contemplating infusing in the old guards to act as the steel on which the silk of the younger generation will be wrapped on in the World Championships.

Head coach Julius Kirwa has hinted at Kenya recalling Ezekiel Kemboi and Brimin Kipruto out of retirement to compete in the water and hurdle race so as to safeguard the country’s dominance in the sport.

The two have moved up the ladder and competing in marathon at the moment.

“Something has to be done soon, it is worrying to watch the lack of competiveness in the steeplechase race from Kenyan runners. I don’t think the current crop of runners can win anything on the global stage and we need to plan accordingly,” Jack Tuwei, AK’s president said on Wednesday in Nairobi.

The 24-year-old Kipruto, whereas has shown his class taking over the baton from Kemboi, has been brought down to rehabilitation owing to his foot injury.

“Nobody really can question the talent in Olympic and world champ Conseslus Kipruto. At 24-years-old he remains top of his game and hopeful he will make the team to World Championships. But with injuries, you can never be certain, so we need to plan,” Kirwa said.

Kipruto’s agent Michel Boeting said his athlete has been advised by the doctors to rest and avoid exerting pressure on his foot for the time being.

“In May Kipruto was forced to postpone the start of his season by canceling the Doha Diamond League due to pain in his foot. He was diagnosed with early stages of stress-fracture in talus of left foot. He was advised to take rest,” Boeting said.

“A return to competition is expected for mid-August. Updates will be done if this situation changes,” added Boeting.

Kirwa has since taken the cue and has been busy discussing the subject with several athletes to convince the old guards (Kemboi and Brimin) to postpone their marathon quest and return on track, for the sake of maintaining the country’s pride in the competition. Kenya has dominated the steeplechase race since Edmonton event in 2001.