A Kenyan runner has stood atop the podium at the men’s 3000m steeplechase at every Olympiad since 1984. On Wednesday, Conseslus Kipruto extended that streak to a ninth-straight Olympics.
The 30-year old overtook American Evan Jager at the bell lap and crossed the finish line in 8:03.29 to win the event. He managed to set an Olympic record despite slowing down and waving to the crowd over the final 150 meters. Jager was second, while Ezekiel Kemboy took home the bronze.
Kenyans have owned the sport in the past three decades, and Kipruto’s gold was the nation’s 20th in world championship competition in the past 32 years.
Jager was the world’s best hope to dethrone the African nation before the event. The American record holder had recorded the second-fastest steeplechase time in international competition since 2015 by running a 8:00.45 in Saint Denis that year. His potential to break the eight minute barrier made him the only non-Kenyan among the race’s top five betting favorites.
Instead, Jager settled for a historic silver. American runners had not medaled in the event since earning bronze back in 1984. They have not won the event since 1952.
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