Conseslus Kipruto confirmed his superiority over the world of steeplechasing with a classy, almost cocky display to win in 8:04.63 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rome on Thursday night. In a race that set out a swift pace – they passed 1000m in 2:37 – Kipruto nestled behind the pacemakers, biding his time. The pace inevitably slowed in the second kilometre, and when the field hit 2000m in 5:23, Kipruto swept to the front.
He pulled with him compatriots Amos Kirui, Jairus Birech, and Moroccan newcomer Soufiane El Bakkali. Kipruto, just as he did in Rio, then refused to surrender the lead throughout the final lap.
Just when it seemed he was coming under threat, as El Bakkali ranged up alongside with 100 metres to run, the Olympic champion shifted gears impressively, cruising clear and crossing the line almost nonchalantly with the night’s first world lead.
El Bakkali took nine seconds off his PB to finish second in 8:05.17, with Birech third in 8:07.84. Two-time Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi made a disappointing return, trailing home 17th in 8:33.07.
“I always try to keep the speed for the last two laps and when I have enough power, it pays off,” said Kipruto. “I started this season as planned – 8:04 is a good time.”