Overview of the 3000m Steeplechase at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Steeplechase for Women, 3000 Metres
The steeplechaser who has been dominant in recent years hasn’t been quite as strong in 2021, opening up the competition heading into Tokyo.
In 2018, Beatrice Chepkoech ran an 8:44.32 to set a new world record; in 2019, she ran an 8:57.84 to set a new championship record and win the global title by nearly five seconds.
Despite losing valuable time when she missed one of the barriers, she still managed to place fourth at both the 2016 Olympics and the 2017 World Championships.
She came back strong, winning 17 of 19 races in 2018 and 2019. Additionally, she has now accomplished half of the 14 sub-nine-minute steeplechase times in history.
The Kenyan ran a 5km world record of 14:43 and an indoor 3000m personal best of 8:31.72 just three days apart to start the year, but she is yet to win a steeplechase competition in 2021.
At the Wanda Diamond League event in Monaco, she ran her best time of the season, a 9:04.94, placing a distant second.
Hyvin Kiyeng, another countrywoman, came out on top in a thrilling race. Due to a human error with the lap counter, Kiyeng began her last sprint one lap early.
After hearing the bell for the actual final lap, she realised her error and mustered the strength to cling on to her lead, eventually finishing in a season-best time of 9 minutes, 3.82 seconds.
In 2015, Kiyeng Won the world Championship.
In 2016, he won silver at the Olympics and bronze the following year. Even though she started the year off with a disappointing fourth-place finish in Doha, she has since gone on to win three races, all of which she has won by a wider margin than Chepkoech.
With a win against a world record holder and world champion despite missing her closing kick in Monaco, Kiyeng will be a formidable opponent in Tokyo. As a matter of fact, she has a chance to beat her 2016 personal best time of 9 minutes, 01.01 seconds.
African Games Champion Mekides Abebe
Who ran 9 minutes and 2.52 seconds at the Wanda Diamond League meet in Doha, Qatar, is the fastest of the entrants. Since then, she has only competed against athletes from her home country, yet she has still managed to win the Ethiopian Championships in Addis Ababa and the Ethiopian Olympic Trials in Hengelo.
Abebe is the oldest of Ethiopia’s steeplechase competitors, although being only 19 years old. Lomi Muleta, who ran a personal best of 9:14.03 this year, and Zerfe Wondemagegn, who ran a national U20 record of 9:16.95 in Hengelo, will be competing with her in Tokyo.
All three ladies will be making their Olympic debut at a relatively early age, yet they all represented Ethiopia at the 2019 World Championships.
Emma Coburn, the Current US Champion, will Compete for Medals once more.
Coburn is consistently around the top of the podium at major competitions. He won bronze at the 2016 Olympics, was crowned world champion in 2017, and won silver this year.
At the final pre-Olympic race, the Wanda Diamond League meet in Monaco, she finished fourth in 9 minutes, 9.02 seconds after falling at the final water jump.
She had seen Kiyeng’s mistake and was beginning to reel in the Kenyan, but there’s no guarantee that Coburn would have won had she remained on her feet. Coburn will still be in the medal chase if she avoids that error in Tokyo.
A another formidable champion performer is Gesa-Felicitas Krause. The German has two European gold medals (2016 and 2018) and two world bronze medals (2015 and 2019).
She has a season’s best of 9:09.13 as she travels to Tokyo, but she’s certain to improve upon that; in all but one of her 10 seasons between 2010 and 2019, Krause’s fastest times of the year were made in championship finals.
After falling short of the medals in the World Championships in Doha, Bahrain’s Winfred Yavi found some measure of redemption at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in the Qatari capital earlier this year, where she ran a personal best of 9:02.64 to defeat Kiyeng, Coburn, and Krause.
Aside from the defending champion, North American record holder, and 2017 world silver medalist Courtney Frerichs, other contenders include the defending champion, Slovenian record holder, and North American record holder Marusa Mismas-Zrimsek, Purity Kirui (2014 Commonwealth champion), Genevieve Gregson (Australia), Zhang Xinyan (China), and Peruth Chemutai (Uganda) all have national records.
A Male 3000 Metre Steeplechase
A consensus exists that the men’s 3000m steeplechase has been Kenya’s strongest track and field discipline.
Since 1968, the east African nation has been a powerhouse in athletics, with its athletes winning the event all but twice (in the Olympics, of course) due to the country’s boycotts.
It will be the first time in the country’s recent history that its Olympic team does not include a current world or Olympic champion.
Former world and Olympic champion Conseslus Kipruto did not finish his race at the Kenyan Trials last month and will therefore not be defending his title in Tokyo.
Kipruto’s victory in Rio five years ago was his first of two consecutive World Championship victories. That puts the weight of the country on the frail shoulders of Leonard Bett, Benjamin Kigen, and Abraham Kibiwott.
Bett won the Kenyan Olympic Trials on June 19 with a time of 8 minutes and 17.26 seconds in Nairobi’s high altitude, raising expectations for the 2017 global under-18 champion, 2018 African champion, and 2019 World Championships finalist. Since he hasn’t raced much so far this year, his true form won’t be known until the first round begins on July 30.
Kibiwott, 25, also competed in the finals of the 2019 World Championships, where he placed eighth, thus he brings significant competition experience to the Japanese capital like Bett.
The 25-year-old boasts a sub-8:10 best of 8:05.72 from this year and has five other sub-8:10 performances on his resume. The most recent was on July 9 in Monaco, where he ran a 2nd-place 8:07.81.
Kigen, 28, is a proven commodity on the world scene, having finished sixth at the most recent World Championships and first in the African Games earlier in the same year.
He also has multiple victories to his name in the Wanda Diamond League and the World Athletics Continental Tour.
The official at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Monaco rang the bell one lap early, prompting Kigen and a few of other runners to launch their final kick with two laps to go, resulting in a season’s best 8:15.09. Until the runners realised there was still one more lap to go, Kigen was in the lead.
The Kenyan trio has a winning record to maintain, but they must first defeat a handful of established players who will come into the game as heavy favourites.
Moroccan Soufiane El Bakkali, 25, is the quickest of the Tokyo entrants with a 7:58.15 career best and a dozen sub-8:10 performances to his name.
He won silver and bronze at the last two World Championships. He hasn’t raced much this season, but when he has, he’s done well: he won the Golden Gala in Florence in 8:08.54 and, more impressively, he ran a personal best of 3:31.95 in the 1500 metres at the Doha Diamond League.
Meanwhile, Lamecha Girma made his international debut with a sensational performance at the 2019 World Championships, where the then-18-year-old fought fiercely with Kipruto to the line before losing the gold by a mere 0.01.
Girma ran just one outdoor race in 2021, but he made it count, taking first place in Monaco on July 9 with a time of 8 minutes and 7.75 seconds. This was the fastest time in the world in 2021.
Despite turning 19 the day after the Olympic final, Bikila Tadese Takele won the Ethiopian Trial race in Hengelo with a personal best of 8:09.37 and then placed second at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Florence.
Getnet Wale, who was once listed in the steeplechase but now appears to be focusing only on the 5000m, is a compatriot and the 2019 Diamond League champion who finished fourth at the World Championships later that year.
The Ensuing Stats Chart is Less Certain when they are Accounted for.
France had the third- and fourth-place finishers from the Monaco race, Djilali Bedrani (8:11.17 SB) and Mehdi Belhadj (8:12.43 SB, PB). Bedrani, who ran 8:05.23 to place sixth at the 2019 World Championships, is also likely to place highly.
Hillary Bor, who won the United States Trials, finished eighth in Rio and seventh at the most recent World Championships, so she may also be in the medal hunt.
Ryuji Miura, a 19-year-old local hope, has already broken the national record twice this year, once in Tokyo in May with a time of 8:17.46 and again to 8:15.99 when he won the national title in Osaka a month ago.