South Africa hoping Semenya has saved best for last

2009-08-19 00:00

KENYAN teamwork and a limited strategic arsenal put paid to Ruben Ramolefi’s and South African hopes in the 3 000 m steeplechase final on the fourth day of the World Athletics Championships in Berlin.

Adopting his traditional front-running style, Ramolefi had the lead for the initial 700 m before Paul Keoch and Ezekiel Kemboi commenced their disruptive tactics of leading and slowing. The South African extricated himself to the front for the completion of the first kilometre in 2:41,90, but was simply overhauled again by the Kenyan trio. This time there was no coming back as the field moved past the destroyed 31-year-old, who had fallen to 11th with three laps remaining.

Kenyan mastery had Kemboi, Koech and Richard Mateelong up front with only Frenchman Bouabdellah arrogantly taking them on, while the defending world champion Brimin Kipruto controlled the pace of the chasing group some 10 metres adrift.

The Athens Olympic and current Commonwealth Champion, Kemboi added the World title to his CV in a new championship record of eight minutes and 0,43 seconds.

Ramolefi finished a distant 13th in 8:32,54, the sort of time he had long put behind him.

South Africa will be hoping Caster Semenya has saved the best for last when she takes on an impressive field in the 800 m final. Having twice accounted for defending world champion Janeth Jepkosgei, the Kenyan should hold no fear for the Limpopo-based youngster. However, Britain has two useful contenders in Jennifer Meadows and Marilyn Okoro, who would become an even bigger threat in a slow race where they could use tactics to kill Semenya’s pace. Although she has the fastest time of the year, the 18-year-old faces many experienced big kickers and her best hope lies with a fast race. Without question the new kid on the block provides South Africa with its best medal chance in the championships to date, and it will keep South Africans on the edge of their chairs. If successful, it will be the first world championship medal since 2003.

Today’s SA finalists (SuperSport1) 9.35 pm: Caster Semenya in the 800 metres.

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