Heir to the throne?

Kenya’s budding steeplechase runner, Kipkemoi Bett, is hoping to follow in the footsteps of the ‘King of Steeplechase’ – four-time world champion, Ezekiel Kemboi.

Bett superlatively clocked the fastest time in Heat 2 to sail through to Sunday’s final of the boys’ 2000m steeplechase at the ongoing IAAF World Under-18 championships at Moi Stadium, Kasarani.

He clocked 5:46.66 to win his Heat, beating Girma Diriba of Ethiopia to second place in 5:47.86.

Compatriot Kandie Meyan, finished second in Heat 1 in 5:51.83, behind Ethiopia’s Alemu Kitessa, who timed 5:49.79.

With his impressive and tactical skills in clearing the barriers, Bett believes he has what it takes to be a future champion after the Kasarani event offered him a platform to launch his career.

“I have cherished Kemboi’s skills. I have started my journey hoping that I will, one day, be the world’s best in steeplechase running,” Bett explained.

The Form Three student at African Gospel Church, Liloch in Kericho County said Kenya is revered in steeplechase and with the older generation phasing out, he is hopeful of extending the country’s dominance.

“You know, steeplechase is in the heart of Kenyan runners, even if one is participating in a different discipline. Everybody is aware that Kenya is the best in it. We are learning the tactics from our older and top athletes,” he added.

Tomorrow, he will team up with Meyan of Kirobon Secondary in Nakuru County who started his running career while at Chebugar Primary in Baringo County.

“I have trained well on how to clear the barriers since January and I found it easy. I promise Kenya a medal,” Bett said.

Kenya has ruled the international stage since Amos Biwott became the first Kenyan to win an Olympic gold at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico as Ben Kogo took the silver medal.

Three-time world 3,000m steeplechase champion, Moses Kiptanui and Patrick Sang, then took over, winning gold and silver medals respectively at the third edition of the World Championships in Tokyo in 1991.

The baton has passed through many other runners through the generations with Kemboi, a multiple World and Olympic Champion taunted as the ‘Greatest of All Times.’

However, Kemboi has announced his retirement after the 2017 World Championships in London next month.

Olympic champion, Conseslus Kipruto and Continental Cup champion and two-time Diamond League winner, Jairus Birech, have already warmed up to the mantle, with Bett hoping to join the fray.

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